Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Why I'm Buying Only Secondhand, Vintage, and Thrift For 2014

Happy New Year!!!

What are you doing here?

Likely, you have some interest in fashion or ecology or both...or you're a friend I forced into following me to support my new cause. In any case, read on because I am fashionable, ecological, AND also your friend (maybe)!

Secondhand Swaggy is an account of my year of buying only secondhand clothing for 2014.

I realize this is a crazy thing to do, especially as we are currently living in the Golden Age of "fast fashion." Fast fashion is like fast food; you can buy it quickly and conveniently, it satisfies your urge, and it's cheap.  You can go on Amazon Prime and search for it. You can pop into Forever 21 at the mall and grab it. You can go to Target during lunch and come back with 3 new outfits.

And fast fashion is even better  than fast food because it's cute. And you can Instagram it so everyone admires/"likes" you. And you can keep it or lend it out to a friend. And you don't just enjoy it once and then expel it into the sewers to be lost forever. You can wear it, like, one or two more times at least.

So why go all secondhand swaggy now?

The reason this blog exists is that I am a voracious shopper. I am like a storm of sharks riling up the ocean and eating everything, but instead of eating all the fish, I'm buying up all the dresses. It all started when my parents used to shove me into plaid skirts and cart me off to the St. Thomas Aquinas Academy for Girls Who Study and Don't Shop Ever. The point was to make me concentrate hard on school and not worry about my clothes. It didn't work. I tried to amp up the look with crazy socks and hair bows and glitter jelly shoes on the daily (this was the 80s) and then finally, FINALLY, my parents had to move and take me with them (was not sad at all to ditch the nuns).

Since being freed from the confines of  Catholic school uniforms in fourth grade, I, in typical hyperbolic character, rapidly embraced my new freedom by wearing WHATEVER THE HELL (worth two Hail Marys on my baby rosary) I wanted from the age of 8 'til...now.

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Seriously, I love shopping. I shop online constantly. I know all the good websites and where to find sales and coupons and discount codes and my e-mail inbox makes me look like the most popular girl in school, except instead of cheerleaders and football players, it's Tobi, Nasty Gal, ModCloth, and Pixie Market sending me love and asking me on dates. I even have a talk radio show on AM Radio that consists mostly of me discussing outfits and where to shop with my trusty co-host. See, that's me below on the left at the radio station wearing a For Love or Lemons dress from Nasty Gal.

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I HEART CLOTHES SO MUCH I BROADCAST IT EVERY WEEK! Hear my shows at http://amnradio.com/esl/

That's about 25 years of wearing whatever the heck I wanted, and while I immensely enjoyed expressing myself through my wardrobe, I couldn't help but notice over the years that my closet has become increasingly harder to navigate. Basically, you can drown in a pile of dresses if you get lost in my closet. Even a shark like me has trouble finding the right fish in that ocean of fabric.

Around the time this long overdue realization hit, I coincidentally started to hear more about eco-conscious products (i.e. e-mails about organic cotton that didn't get filtered to my spam folder). Some mildly thorough research revealed that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated 13 million tons of clothing in landfills as of 2010. With the recent success of new clothing websites worldwide, I can only guess how much more clothing has been mass-produced and subsequently dumped in the past four years.

And then there are the GMOs used for producing cotton, chemicals used for dying clothing, the huge amounts of water required to produce the clothing, the incredible amounts of labor and energy spent toward manufacturing, the harmful gases emitted when burning non-recyclable clothing at landfills, and the resulting poisons released into the ocean and land after clothing is disposed of. That's all of it in a nutshell and also in the picture below (in case words are getting too boring for you):

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YAY COLORS! Garment Life Cycle from the smart folks at gypsy-witch.com.

I'm a shark that's ruining its own ocean! So this is my attempt to reduce textile landfill waste. Or at least stop contributing to it. I think if everyone does a little, we can accomplish a lot.

My Secondhand Swaggy ground rules are:
    • buy only secondhand/vintage clothing if I want new work/casual/party clothes;
    • buy new shoes only if necessary and try to buy organic/secondhand shoes if possible;
    •  undies and swimsuits can be new;
    • occasion wear may be new, but try to buy vintage first;
    • hang up my shopping shark fins and act very restrained and pious at clothing stores (high difficulty level).
I'm excited about this new venture. I've found some good pieces at thrift stores in the past. My favorite find so far is in my header image. That's a Dolce & Gabbana dress from the 90s that I found for $40 at Buffalo Exchange.

There will be more good finds this year; I'm sure of it. And I'll be here to document it. Come back soon and say hi!


  1. woohoo! so excited to see all your dope finds. :)

  2. Does this relate in anyway to Swaggy P?

  3. Awesome goal for 2014! Way to lessen your fashion carbon footprint.

  4. @narminshahin, thanks! I'm excited to shop!

    @zhushiegau, the blog isn't related but I like his hair

    @stephanie zoet, thanks for coming by!

  5. While I'm the furthest thing from a "shopping shark" (I have the fashion sense of a doorknob.., seriously, I would probably just wear a sandwich board that says "Do Not Disturb" if it wasn't so socially awkward), I am trying to proactively be a conscious consumer. Thanks for sharing your journey…. and good luck achieving your goal.

    1. Thanks for reading and good luck to you too!

  6. used kids clothes Australia

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  7. Thank you for sharing this interesting blog that you have shared with me. I'll be back for more stunning information. Keep on posting!


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