The thrifting advantage

I started thrifting, or shopping in  thrift stores, after I went on a weekend shopping trip that left me unsatisfied, self-conscious and bored. For a while, I was feeling like my style, body-type and personality were not syncing with trends that were surfacing in all of the big stores. With my already unsure feelings toward the clothes all my peers were wearing, my wallet was also telling me the $75 top staring at me from the Anthropology sales window was not my friend.

If you’re wondering why, one reason is that said top is probably hanging in five of my friend’s closets at this exact moment. While being trendy is cool, it doesn’t exactly mark you as “unique.”  What I put on in the morning is usually a direct representation of how I’m feeling. With that being said, I dress how I want to be perceived. For me, that’s someone who is an individual with her own style. Once I realized what I wanted my clothes to say about me, the idea of going to resale shops came naturally to me because they presented the opportunity to create an outfit that is truly my own.

I started following thrift Instagram pages and realized that vintage clothes are pretty synonymous with the second-hand industry. Surprisingly, $500 Levi jeans are commonly found at your neighborhood Salvation Army. All of the fake “90’s fad” clothing stores are selling can actually be found in thrift stores. The kicker is they are actually authentic and probably made their debut at your parent’s high school 20 years ago.

While many people may turn their nose up at the smell of musty blazers and old tennis shoes, I found myself rolling my sleeves up and spending hours rummaging through my town’s hand-me-downs.

After about three months of making weekly trips to Goodwill and other local resale stores, I realized that over half of my closet had become secondhand clothes. I remember in that moment feeling proud that these items were things I worked to find.

I started to realize other positives my newfound hobby possessed. In many cases, we don’t think about the type of industry we are supporting when we buy from large stores. Brands like Victoria Secret, Adidas and H&M have been spotlighted for using questionable means to produce their fast fashion. Child labor allegations along with poverty-like wages are all things you risk monetarily supporting when buying from big name stores.

On the other side of the coin, choosing to shop at resale stores usually means supporting a non-profit organization. In most cases, the store is partnered with a local charity that directly benefits from your consumerism. How many other places can you shop at and say you just helped feed someone by buying a unique, knitted scarf? It won’t happen anywhere other than a thrift shop.

Last, but certainly not least, your bank account will thank you. Recently, I was at Urban Outfitters and I picked up a cropped grey sweatshirt. It was soft, sporty and gave off the “I’m not really trying, but I am trying” kind of vibe. I looked at the price tag and it was $45. My head quickly started mapping out how much It would cost for me to just purchase it from a thrift store. 5$ tops was my estimate. Needless to say, I didn’t leave Urban with the top.

The next time you drive by your local thrift store, try to remember that any item can quickly be transformed with some soap and cold water. The musty smell can be washed away, pants can be rolled and shirts can be cropped.