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Monthly Archives: April 2014

Second-hand Style

As a teacher at an all-girls’ school, I am very conscious about the way I dress. I rarely wear makeup because I want the girls to know that bare faces are socially acceptable. I dress professionally to show my students what appropriate work attire looks like, but I also love to wear bright prints and colors because I want to demonstrate that you can always find ways to let your personality shine (and, I enjoy wearing cute work outfits!). In addition, I try to be socially conscious about what I wear. I believe in fair labor practices, and it feels wrong to pour money into companies who mistreat their labor forces. In addition, the sheer volume of clothing that Americans purchase as a whole is also startling – much of our barely-used clothing ends up in landfills, which also impacts the environment. Obviously, shopping less is one way to help curb this problem, and I figured that second-hand stores would be a first step in becoming a more conscious shopper. In addition, I continued to hold hope that I could be stylish AND a good citizen!

I used to be a big thrift shopper in college, but hadn’t been back since. I’m sorry I stopped because I was AMAZED at the variety of styles and quality of the clothes offered! First, basics are super easy to acquire. Button down shirts and jeans come in every color and style, so you can pretty much find whatever you want. When Bermuda shorts became a hot item on the style blogs last year, department and chain stores were a bit behind the trend, but on my first visit to Crossroads, I snagged a pair of Gap shorts for $10 🙂 They were well-constructed and fit like a glove! Below, you can see the shorts on the left, and a button-down men’s shirt I snagged at the Goodwill for $7 on the right.

Gap shorts on the left, button-down shirt on the right. I wear them all the time!

Gap shorts on the left, men’s button down shirt on the right. I wear them all the time!

One of the things I hate shopping for is going-out attire. It’s not that I dislike that kind of attire – I just hardly go out! And then I spend on a lot of money on an outfit that I wear maybe once or twice. It did take a little more effort to find those kinds of outfits second-hand, either because they’re popular or because I don’t have the same taste as most teenage and 20-something girls, but below are two pieces I adore.  The first is a zig-zag tube top that is goes great with either white pants or a skirt. The second is a sheer, pleated skirt that is super fun – it’s light and breezy and can be dressed up or down. I love that they’re both unique (one of them has a tag from some random boutique store I’ve never heard of), and I paid less than $20 for both pieces!

Zig-zag tube top paired with a white skirt borrowed from my mom. Also featured - my fabulous dance moves.

Zig-zag tube top paired with a white skirt borrowed from my mom. Also featured – my fabulous dance moves.

My favorite piece of clothing ever! Super feminine, trendy and, above all, comfy.

My favorite piece of clothing ever! Super feminine, trendy and, above all, comfy.

Lastly, there is the opportunity to buy high-end items on consignment, and I will never pay full-price for a designer piece again. Purses are especially easy to find on ebay or in local consignment stores, and each are good about screening for condition and authenticity. Besides the fact that you obviously save money buying second-hand, most brand-name handbags remain classic in design, so there’s no reason you need to buy the latest style to keep up with the trends. And although designer goods are obviously high-quality, you are really paying those extra big bucks for the name, and I loathe that. This lets me feel like I’m sticking it to the man a bit 😉

Below is my Christmas gift to myself – a limited-edition Coach purse. It was originally $425, but I got it for $100, and it looked brand new. The best part is, they had it available in coral and black, so my mom now owns the matching one 🙂

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I’m not normally a big Coach fan, but I couldn’t pass up on this color or hardware. I love unique finds!

What I like best about this exercise is that I learned that I don’t necessarily have to compromise my style or budget with my principles – I just need to be more creative. It’s easy to feel powerless when dealing with a global issue, but I really think if we all make small steps, we can make a bigger difference. I’d love to hear about your socially conscious shopping finds!