Sunday, October 6, 2013

Thrifting, swapping

Welp, between putting it in writing in this space and blabbing about it to others, there is some built-in accountability for this here clothing fast business. I showed up to a party on Thursday in a rarely-worn dress and Michelle gave me the side eye and said "Are you sure that isn't new?" My people are keeping me honest! (It was old, swear to God.) Mostly this is a breeze but every once in a while some objectively perfect dress creeps into my Pinterest feed and I click on it and then it invades my sidebar for days like a nasty rash. It is much easier for me to abstain from things than to do them in moderation so I feel "free from buying things" rather than restricted from buying things.

Some friends had a clothing swap at my prompting on Friday, so I was able to add a cobalt boatneck sweater from Loft with an asymmetrical zipper, a charcoal and black striped skirt from Gap, and a pair of all black hardly-worn saddle shoes to my wardrobe. And some of my ill-fitting or underappreciated clothing items got rehomed to friends. At the end of the evening, I loaded up everyone's unclaimed to-swap clothes and dropped them off at the thrift store. Even though I brought clothes home, it was not even close to the amount of clothes I permanently sent out of the house.

I have also been doing some thrifting under the guise of using clothing and sheets for quilting fabric, but I have bought a few items. I feel okay about this. I have a perfectly worn cobalt and black flannel (seeing a pattern?) now and a watercolor-y black and white polka dot blouse from the 80s that I will wear to work buttoned up all the way to my throat until around 10 a.m. when I realize that no trend, no matter how cute, is worth the sensation of near-strangulation all day.

Sadly, there's a whole shit-ton of non-clothing things to buy buy buy out there. I have been buying gorgeous quilting batiks, and some clothes for Nick (doesn't count!). I have also started my Christmas shopping because I am an incorrigible overachiever like that.

It will be interesting at the end of this to see if I do manage to save much money from not buying clothing. If anything, I think the benefit will be in my eagerness to savagely pare down my wardrobe and rebuild it with things not bought impulsively at an H&M just because my blood sugar was a bit low. A shift in behavior and approach to consuming is good for me, even if the amount of cash I save is not very impressive.


  1. In my last year of school I had a budgetary crisis and realized that the amount of money I spent on clothes I didn't particularly like was edging into shameful territory, and vowed to stop. I went on a fast for about 9 months (that was lack-of-rent-money induced more than a principled undertaking) and when I started buying clothes again, decided to only buy things that a) I love and b) are reasonably well-made. I probably don't spend much less money (although as a percentage of my income it's now much more reasonable!) but I'm rarely caught with that closet-full-of-nothing-to-wear feeling and it's easier to say I have a 'style,' although whether I'm particularly stylish is up for debate.

    I'm impressed by your thrifting, though - I never have any luck. Maybe I lack the patience?

    1. It's cool that you've done this, too! When I write these posts I wonder if I seem like a frivolous materialist type for needing an intervention in the first place, but it is reassuring that other reasonable people have found this type of thing necessary. My friend did this when we were in college (she did it for a year) and I thought I might give it a shot.

      I have thrifted some of my very favorite items. I have also brought home a lot of junk that I rounded up to okay because of the low-stakes of the price tag. I used to therapeutically go through the racks for hours and find the diamonds in the rough. Now I am more likely to keep an item in mind and look just for that one thing. Slouchy black tee, fitted flannel, gray cardigan, etc. I also buy a lot of nice newish women's trousers and alter the leg to be a slim fit, so I end up with good condition J Crew skinny trousers for work for $3.

      You shouldn't have gotten me started on thrifting philosophies! I could go on and on.