thrifting

an ethical outfit: thrifting

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This outfit may seem a little too put together for thrifting, but it's a good fit for a few reasons: 1. Slip-on shoes are a must for trying on shoes and clothing, 2. two piece outfits are preferable to dresses when you're trying to get a sense of how tops and bottoms will look with items you already own, 3. a crossbody helps you go hands free when you're hunting through the racks, and 4. earrings are a better option than a necklace or rings because they won't get in the way while you're shopping.

Preparation is key!

Outfit Details: Green 3 Sweater, Rag & Bone Jeans, Mata Traders Earrings, The Body Shop Tinted Balm, Parker Clay Bag, The Root Collective Flats

the moral wardrobe: low back

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Outfit Details: Top - thrifted via the Schoolhouse Thrift Shop; Skirt - Old Navy (old); Shoes - thrifted

I'm emotionally exhausted over the disappearance of local student, Hannah Graham, and spent the week being snippy with people I love. I'm feeling a bit down, but am encouraged by the way the Charlottesville community has stepped up to comfort one another and aid in the search.

This week is birthday week and I'm determined to count my blessings. I have lovely plans for Friday and am going on a hike in Shenandoah National Park on Saturday, so there's a lot to look forward to. I'm also excited to work on some new pieces on my banjo; I'm painfully inexperienced, but I think my guitar basics will transfer well enough for now.

tradesy: secondhand shoes galore


I know that the thought of wearing used shoes makes some people nauseous, but I've never taken issue with it. In fact, probably 1/3 of the shoes I own are secondhand. In a consumer culture dominated by 5-week trend cycles, people are doomed to impulse buy, which leaves a lot of gently used stuff on the secondhand market to trawl through.

I've typically thrifted or searched ebay to find secondhand shoes, but the popularity of online shopping has resulted in all sorts of new places to shop for secondhand goods.

I discovered Tradesy over the weekend. It's a mashup between the Ebay/Etsy, direct-from-the-seller approach and more curated sites like thredup and Twice. Basically, an individual lists items, which are placed both within their personal shop and within the larger marketplace. Once an item sells, the Tradesy team processes the order and sends the seller packaging materials, which the seller then uses to ship the item to the customer. Items ship free and returns are free, as well.

Tradesy's setup isn't perfect. Items that sell out are delayed from removal while the site waits to confirm the order with the seller, which means the customer has to scroll through a lot of extraneous listings to find something she can actually buy. But they're the best I've found when it comes to shoes. Prices tend to fall in ebay ranges with the advantage of avoiding the auction and having your item ship free.

the moral wardrobe: mauve

personal style pink hair ma6ma2
 Outfit Details: Top - very old / Skirt - thrifted / Sandals - old / Necklace - handmade via etsy

No, I didn't re-dye my hair. It just faded into a unique shade of coppery pink over the past couple weeks. I like how well it matches the bricks on my house and the colors in my skirt.

We did a major overhaul of the thrift shop layout over the weekend. It was a lot of work (way more physical labor than I'm used to), but I can already see positive results. Customers gushed about the ease of their shopping experience now that the clutter is gone and everything has its place. I love being able to see the fruits of my labor. That sort of direct feedback can be hard to come by outside of school.

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Fashion Project


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fashionproject by fracturedradiance on Polyvore

Fashion Project is a new-ish online secondhand clothing retailer with one important difference from other companies in its market: 55% of proceeds go to charity.

The company focuses on well known, mid to high end designers and the site is distinctively modern, with clean lines and minimal use of color. It's a cool place to be. From a quick sampling of items within several categories, clothing is priced in about the same range as Thredup's higher end pieces (but noticeably lower on designer shoes), but the site layout and product images and descriptions are considerably better.

I don't tend to buy much from Fashion Project's preferred brands (Trina Turk, Elie Tahari, Anne Fontaine), so I don't really know where to start, but I think they're capable of appealing to a unique niche within the secondhand market, and that's a great thing. The more the merrier.

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the moral wardrobe: primarily patriotic

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I've always liked primary colors together; when I saw this shirt at the thrift store, I noted the nice colors and interesting cut, but didn't really notice that it screamed The Fourth of July until I put it on at home. I considered adding yellow to the outfit to move it away from the Team America feel, but in the end decided it was fine to look a little too patriotic for the day.

The past few weeks have been consistently good. Sure, there have been ups and downs (including a health scare that was quickly resolved), but I'm having such a good time at the coffee shop, hanging out with friends, singing in the choir, maintaining Platinum & Rust, and learning how to use twitter. I also had the opportunity to attend an interfaith community organizing rally on Monday and feel really encouraged by the work they're doing to improve the Charlottesville community for everyone. To top it all off, my boss gave me the go ahead to set up an informational booth for World Fair Trade Day this Saturday. I'll be serving samples of Equal Exchange coffee and answering questions about the fair trade process.

Ethical choices are bolded below. Retailers taking steps to become more ethical are bolded in gray.

  • Top - thrifted

  • Dress (worn as skirt) - H&M

  • Shoes - vintage Minnetonka

  • Lip color - Clinique Chubby Stick in Chunkiest Chili


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the moral wardrobe: no end in sight

winter look bean boots pr6pr3

I have never felt colder than I felt this morning on the brief walk from my car to the downtown coffee shop where I work. At 8:30 this morning, it was about 7 degrees outside, which may be nothing to those of you who are used to it, but it's incredibly low for temperate Charlottesville (and for me, a fairly recent transplant from Florida).

Anyways, I've been relying on my thrifted Bean boots whenever a walk through the snow is called for. With temps under freezing, the snow is hanging on.

Ethical choices are bolded below. Retailers taking steps to become more ethical are bolded in gray.

  • Collared shirt - thrifted

  • Sweater - old Delia's

  • Jeans - BDG

  • Bean boots - thrifted


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12 months, 12 goals: shop secondhand

secondhand shopping

It dawned on me, as I flipped and flipped through endless blouses at a local Goodwill on Monday, that thrift shops will never run out of items for me to add to my closet. Sure, there are a few items (like underwear) that I'd rather not purchase at the thrift store, but really, there's a lot to be found if you take the time to look.

A few of my prized thrift finds include LL Bean Duck boots, a BCBG Max Azria Flapper-style dress, and several items in pristine condition that I wear so much I forgot I bought them on the secondhand market.

And if that's not enough, internet marketplaces and local vintage shops allow me to shop curated collections when I'm not in the mood to spend 2 hours searching through crowded racks. I buy most of my shoes secondhand on ebay; I've purchased like-new Minnetonka moccasins and several pairs of sneakers for a third of their original price. I found my favorite vintage dresses on etsy and ebay.

The marketplace is flooded with piles of discarded clothing with plenty of wear left, so why do we insist on buying new? Secondhand shopping is easier than it's ever been - we can do it from our couches - so we really have no reason not to try it.

People are often confused about the ethical value of secondhand shopping, noting that many donated goods were likely produced in sweatshops. What they aren't connecting is that the thrift market doesn't operate according to traditional supply-and-demand principles; if you buy cast-offs, you aren't participating in the traditional market at all. Instead, you're opting out; you're boycotting; you impact it only because you're avoiding it. We're nowhere near operating in a market in which demand for secondhand items exceeds supply, so we can rest assured that we do no harm (to others, at least) when we make it rain at the thrift store.

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12 months, 12 goals: shop secondhand


secondhand shopping

"...thrifting is also the moral choice in a 'fast fashion' consumer culture that strips the earth of resources and people of their dignity to meet our insatiable demand for more. It’s time that we take responsibility for our purchasing power. It’s time that we’re made aware of how our weekend hauls at the mall impact and exploit workers at the foundation of the retail chain (from my article for Relevant Magazine, Why I Buy Secondhand)."

When I published my article for Relevant online last May, I was convinced that thrifting was the absolute best alternative to fast fashion retail shopping. Thanks to thought provoking comments and conversations since then, I realize it has its downsides. For one, we can't simply stop producing new garments, because this jeopardizes the livelihoods of milllions of individuals who work in the clothing industry. In the long term, it also thwarts creativity and innovation. But I do think we could stand to downsize the industry altogether.

Those arguments aside, there's no doubt that thrift shopping is a positive endeavor. When I buy something from my local thrift, I save money, recycle, give money back to my community, and avoid increasing demand for unethically produced garments.

thrift haul

On a recent trip to Goodwill, I bought a sweater, J. Crew top, lace crop top, and two striped shirts for a total of $15.00. Had I purchased these new, I likely would have spent over $100.00. I also would have implicitly contributed to unsafe cotton farming practices, depressed factory wages, and unethical sales practices (see my post on retail theater).

Secondhand shopping is the easiest, most immediately effective way to redirect one's spending, but it's not the end all, be all of the fair trade lifestyle. I see it as the foundation of ethical spending, which is why I placed it at the beginning of my 12 Months, 12 Goals challenge.

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the moral wardrobe: '90s 'tude

nineties vintage grunge styleg2

I found these awesome, super heavy chunky wedge sandals while on a vintage shop replenishment trip this week and couldn't resist trying them on with a nineties top I bought on etsy.

The polar vortex has passed over us, but it's still pretty cold outside. I'm currently wearing two pairs of socks and two cardigans inside the house.

Ethical choices are bolded below. Retailers taking steps to become more ethical are bolded in gray.

  • Top - vintage via etsy

  • Cardigan - H&M

  • Pants - BDG

  • Shoes - vintage


This is an example of how to incorporate secondhand items into one's wardrobe. Vintage pieces in particular make quite a statement.

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