Thrifting, Consignment and Reuse: How-To and The Recycled Wardrobe Week

A Half-Baked Life had an interesting post about Freecycling, and a point about not wanting to go shopping.

So this week I decided to talk a little about how to buy for longevity, and what I buy at different stores, thrift stores and consignment shops. Also, what to keep in your closet and what to throw out. And, I back up my words with actions with my wardrobe this week.

I had a friend who always looked so chic and pretty. She tended to look timeless, wore what made her figure look good, and her clothes looked expensive yet, of the moment. I finally asked her what her secret was. She took me shopping to demonstrate. She taught me to buy a lot of dark, solid colors, which didn’t pill or show stains as much. She told me to buy the most expensive fabric I could afford (cashmere at the top, then silk, then wool, then blends, then cotton), she mentored me on the value of an excellent white button-down shirt and she told me that a lot of trends recycle, and advised me to keep the classics: animal prints, black cashmere, good purses, and stylish shoes, which she considered works of art, akin to fine paintings.

I also entered the world of thrift stores: in Montana, I found the brown cashmere coat featured below from the 50s with cool buttons and a fur collar. (Probably real: I don’t buy fur, but reusing old fur from 70 years ago is OK for me. YMMV.) It was $3! A friend in the fashion business appraised it for at least $300, so that was cool. When I thrift, I usually am looking for things that are silly to purchase at full value. (For example: this spring I bought a pastel-colored wool sweater and cream colored blazer, items that will wear and show stains easily. I feel guilty and foolish buying such items new, both for the planet and for my pocketbook.)

Items I will buy at full price: a black cashmere turtleneck sweater, an excellent-fitting pair of jeans, a flattering pair of black pants, well-made Italian flats, a perfect black pencil skirt and: a camel colored trenchcoat that wears beautifully. I have never found the latter, by the way. It’s an obsession.

Items I will buy on sale: gorgeous shoes of all colors that make a statement, colorful coats, designer clothes and jeans for special occasions, well-fitting dresses that flatter.

Things I’ll buy at Target, Payless or Wal-Mart: pajamas, scarves, bathing suits, exercise clothes, fun shoes on trend.

SO, those are my shopping guidelines. Here’s this week’s wardrobe, inspired by my vision board and mostly using clothes not bought this year.

I am loving the trend of graphic black and white prints and this sweater, bought by Darcy last year for me at Anthropologie on sale. (And which went missing until I did the closet reorg.) The black turtleneck, silk, INC, I bought full-price in 1999. Leggings, H&M, from 2010. And, the Tod’s suede studded flats which I bought in 2006.

Orange = fall, right? This sweater was another Darcy purchase for me at Anthropologie last year on sale. Tank top, Marc Jacobs, 2010. Jeans, Old Navy, 2011. Necklace, Banana Republic, 2010. OK, so the short boots (Payless) and the cuff (H&M) I bought this year 🙂

It was HOT yesterday! So I brought out a dress I bought in London in 2011 (from Jigsaw), my Pareo from Target (bought this year) and a pair of shoes I found on a consignment shopping trip with Bodega Bliss last year. They are Cole Haan. Not sure the year?

And today, it was drizzling. Bizarro. I threw on my raincoat as a dress (Marc Jacobs, 2010) a pair of black tights (not pictured) and my Cole Haan loafers from 2009.

Friday’s outfit is pure fantasy, again. We don’t have a sitter, and we don’t have anywhere fancy to go. But if we did: I’d wear this animal print dress from 2000 (Jones New York), my wedding pearls, my $3 cashmere coat from the fifties (consignment store in Hamilton, Montana) and these cream shoes I bought at Karen Millen in London in 2002.

What rules do you have when you shop? Are there certain things you will never buy on sale? Do you thrift? What are your tips?


Filed under My Favorite Things

7 responses to “Thrifting, Consignment and Reuse: How-To and The Recycled Wardrobe Week

  1. I am totally dying to do a wardrobe revamp now. I’m afraid my baking will have to suffer this weekend. 🙂

    I love Wednesday’s ensemble, especially the Cole Haan shoes. And Tuesday’s orange sweater.

    I’ll buy anything on sale, as long as it meets my guideline: will I wear this more than once, or is it just cute enough to talk me into impulse buying? My clothes have to be me, because I will keep them *forever*. I don’t wear stuff out in weeks like Ian does. I still have clothes from the 80s. Not many, but I do.

    So coincidental about yours and Justine’s posts; I was planning one on dumpster diving.

  2. justinelevine

    I can’t wait to read April’s dumpster diving post!

    I like classic, plain clothes that will last a long time. We were just talking today about the oldest piece of clothing we own … I actually still own and wear a shirt I had in high school! (It was baggy then, luckily for me.)

    I probably wear shapeless clothes, too, when I’m not showing up at an office. Maybe I need a makeover reality show to come revamp my wardrobe. 😉

  3. I love your fashion posts. I’m taking notes. And I could use all the notes I can get!

  4. Just wanted to say I’m really enjoying these posts! This is what I love about blogging – finding people who in some ways are so different from me, I’d probably never get to know them in real life, and learning about then. It always turns out we really do have a lot in common, too.
    I pick my clothes mainly based on their ability to not require other components (i.e. needing a cami underneath) and low prices. So this is all fascinating.

  5. I’m enjoying these posts so much too. You have great taste and I’d never think to put some of those outfits together! I can do an ok job with the outfit, but I fall down with the shoes and accessories.

    I typically shop at Loft, but I’ve discovered eBay is a great place to buy gently used or NWT items for much, much less from Talbots, JCrew and Ann Taylor.

  6. Pingback: Curbside Reclamation and Dumpster Diving « R. Sativus

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