Posts Categorized: thrifting

An Argument for Consignment Stores


One of the most eye-opening and alarming facts I learned from watching “The True Cost” was about thrift stores. I already knew that some of the clothing that gets donated ends up somewhere other than on the racks, but I had no idea how much. Do you? Well, around 80% of donated clothing ends up going to textile recyclers because thrift stores receive FAR more clothing than they could ever house and sell. And although 55% of that 80% is recycled into industrial materials like insulation and pillow stuffing, 45% is exported to developing countries. The film pointed out that when this influx of clothing arrives – relatively new, sometimes trendy, and definitely affordable – it can cause local clothing makers to lose business. Or be driven out of business entirely. And the sheer amount that shows up is more than most communities can handle, so much of it ends up in landfills.

I will never stop shopping thrift stores. All of my local thrift stores support charities and many provide job training and paid work for people in need. The work they’re doing and the need they fill are both important. But I’m beginning to think that consigning castoffs may be better for the world than donating them. We think of donation as the easy absolution for overconsumption: I don’t want it, but someone else will! And they’ll be able to buy it at a thrift store. But we donate SO MUCH. There’s no way the stores can keep up. So donating may be better than chucking something in the trash can, but it doesn’t guarantee that your used items will find a new life in someone else’s closet.

Consignment stores vet all of the clothes that come through their doors, checking for damage, recent manufacture, and trendiness. They’re doing this to ensure they’ll turn a profit, to ensure that what they’re buying from you will sell. And although a percentage is bound to end up not-selling and getting donated or trashed, the vetting process means that consigning gives your old stuff a better chance of being bought and worn again. Plus, ya know, you make a little money back from the stuff you’re giving up.

My main point is that taking the trouble to consign your culled clothes may be a more sustainable move in the long run, but the secondary points are to buy less in the first place and avoid buying cheap crap that you’ll have no shot at consigning later down the line. Easier said than done, perhaps, but worthy goals to bear in mind.

Image courtesy Rebecca Schley

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Thrifting for Trends: Fall/Winter 2015 Edition

It’s time, once again, to examine the hot “new” trends for the season, and remind ourselves that fashion recycles EVERYTHING! Here are just a few of the garments, colors, and styles that are trending for fall and winter that you can easily track down at your local thrift and consignment shops. (Note that all of the on-trend items I’m wearing below have been thrifted. Already.)

Chunky knits

chunky knits fall trend

Now is the PERFECT time to hit your local thrift stores in search of some cozy, chunky knit sweaters and sweater dresses. The winter stock is already out, and you’ll be able to score some heavy-duty knitwear. As you can see, pastels and light colors hit the runways, but thick knits in just about any palette will do the trick.

Dark florals

dark florals fall trend

This one has certainly made the rounds several years running, but that makes it all the easier to thrift. What you want here is a print that has a dark color as the background. Floral prints in which the blooms themselves are done in dark prints will look lovely, but a black, eggplant, burgundy, or navy background with botanicals of all kinds will capture the somber mood you want here. Dark florals will be mixed in among the brighter and lighter ones at your local Goodwill. When you can, opt for large-scale florals over ditsy styles.


turtlenecks fall trend

I find turtlenecks to be pragmatic, but a little tricky to style. Designers showed them as stand-alone tops – my preference – and also layered under sleeveless dresses, which I feel can get a little schoolgirl-y. But this style of sweater is certainly pragmatic, and can be very elegant when worn simply or with a statement necklace. Turtlenecks are eternal, so you’ll find them in a rainbow of colors and array of sizes on the thrift store racks.

Mini skirts

mini skirts fall trend

Mini skirts are marvelous for fall and winter since tights are typically part of the equation. Even if you feel a little too exposed in this style of skirt with bare legs, add a nice pair of opaques and some boots to the mix, and you’re good to go. Leather is also big this season, and if you love the look of a leather mini, by all means go for it – I’ve seen many in my thrifting excursions. But more sedate materials – wool, rayon, ponte – will all be available in secondhand abundance, too.

Layered crop tops

crop tops fall trend

So this is a two-parter, but it’s the crop top that’s the essential piece. And although crops are a fairly recently revived trend, they are definitely thrift-able. You can also consider thrifting and cropping yourself or with the help of a tailor. Designers showed crops layered over button-front shirts, but they also layer beautifully over dresses, creating fun proportions in the process.

Why buy new when you can update your wardrobe with a handful of affordable secondhand pieces? Now get out there and thrift!

Image credits all, Altuzarra, Burberry Prorsum, Thakoon, Saint Laurent, Rosie Assoulin

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Thrifting for Trends: Spring/Summer 2015 Edition

It’s time, once again, to examine the hot “new” trends for the season, and remind ourselves that fashion recycles EVERYTHING! Here are just a few of the garments, colors, and styles that are trending for fall and winter that you can easily track down at your local thrift and consignment shops. (Note that all of the on-trend items I’m wearing below have been thrifted. Already.)

Leather and suede


This one might sound familiar because designers have been showing leather and suede for spring and summer several years running now. And not just jackets – we’ve got dresses, skirts, pants, even tops sauntering down the runway. Thrifting for leather is a piece of cake, and you’re likely to find tons of leather pencil skirts and moto jackets. Many thrift stores will also have leather pants, but some will be in outdated cuts and styles, so choose carefully.

Wide leg pants


Both of these pairs are exaggerated wide legs with high waists, but really any flowy style will do. Various iterations of wide legged pants have appeared each and every decade, so you’re bound to find some options on the thrift racks. If the volume makes you hesitate, pick a dark color that won’t be as attention-grabbing. Balancing out the pants with a fitted or structured top works for many figures and styles.



Pantone’s color of the year for 2015 is marsala, a variant of burgundy (and of oxblood which was a recent color of the year, too). This is a classic and incredibly versatile color, so if you don’t already have some in your closet head to your local Goodwill and pore over the racks. As is the case with all color trends, these ones will be among the easiest to thrift!

Bold stripes


Another classic, though these stripes aren’t your typical French sailor shirt stripes. Think broader strokes, high contrast, unusual placement … and items besides long-sleeved tees. Thrift stores will have an abundance of striped shirts and sweaters – which are always a good buy – but peek around for striped blazers, pants, skirts, and dresses, too.



This is the surprising one, if you ask me. Gingham has been a preppy staple for ages, but seeing it done up on the runways was unexpected and fun. You’re unlikely to find floaty gingham wrap dresses or other high-fashion-esque iterations, but a simple gingham shirt or skirt will help you cash in on this trend. And since this print is far from new, you should be able to find many options at your favorite secondhand haunts.

What trendy items will YOU thrift for this season?

Runway image sources: Derek Lam | Balmain | Victoria Beckham | Tibi | Diane Von Furstenberg

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