Secondhand September: How I Incorporated Secondhand Fashion Into My Life
This month is Secondhand September. The campaign, created by Oxfam was created to encourage people to avoid buying new clothes for an entire thirty days. Now full disclosure- I haven’t adhered to this. This is because I only recently learned of the monthly campaign. But shopping secondhand has become a huge part of how I shop and has been for nearly a year. And so I wanted to talk about how I myself have incorporated secondhand and sustainable fashion into my sartorial life.
A bit of background on me: I used to shop almost exclusively vintage when I was in my early teens. And then in my early to mid twenties I owned an eBay store that sold vintage clothing (I did this for nearly two years). During that time I wore a TON of vintage. But after closing my store I kind of fell out of the habit.
Over the last year and a half I have been taking a long look at my wardrobe. My return to secondhand shopping was pretty organic - I wanted to be able to purchase more quality items over quantity. I used to buy, buy, buy and then get bored of the items I owned. I wanted to create a wardrobe with less items but with things that I really loved, Things that fit me. Things that were unique to my sense of style and that inspired me. And as a result my shopping habits changed. I still occasionally buy fast fashion. But I am more conscious of what I purchase when I do. I recently purchased three items from H&M as well as a few basics like tights and leggings from Forever 21. These are items that I genuinely love and staples that I will get a ton of wear from. But other than that I haven’t purchased a ton of fast fashion in awhile. So what have I been doing?
I have being purchasing from sites like TheRealReal for gently used designer goods, ThredUp and I have been renting - yes RENTING clothing. I recently wrote a review of Rent the Runway’s Update monthly rental service. In August I upgraded my membership to Unlimited. This allows me unlimited rentals during a 30 day period (four items at a time). I have rented pieces from Martin Grant, MSGM, Sachin & Babi to name a few. What I have really loved about this service is that I get to wear designer and higher end items and when I’m done with them I send them back and can try something new. I get bored easily with clothing which is one of the reason why I shopped so much fast fashion - it was cheap and easy. But again- this resulted in me having a bloated wardrobe full of…stuff. With a few loved pieces thrown in. I like that I get to switch things up with new pieces every week or so. As a result of this my desire to shop for new things has diminished quite a bit. Why buy new items when I can rent a few pieces for a couple of weeks and save some money?
The items that I have bought have been really great investment pieces that I can have for awhile and when I’m done with them can re-consign or resale if I want to. As I stated above I have purchased a few “fast fashion” items. Two of those items were from H&M’s Conscious line, which focuses on creating pieces using sustainable fabrics and practices. I also picked a skirt from the Richard Allen x H&M collaboration that I stewed over purchasing for a few weeks. I am excited about these pieces and they will be great staple items in my fall/winter wardrobe. And two pairs of cowboy-style ankle boots from ASOS that I have been drooling over since last month.
I had two big tickets seondhand purchases recently: I purchased a pair of Phoebe Philo for Celine pumps that I have been eyeing and searching for since last December. As well as a pair of Loewe ankle boots. Both were purchased on TheRealReal for a fraction of their retail prices. From ThredUp I recently purchased a pair of J.Crew ankle boots and a Vince Camuto quilted fall jacket. Again- really great wardrobe staples that I will get a lot of wear out of. And that has been the extent of my fall fashion shopping. That may seem like a lot to some, but for me it’s not. For me it is a nice curated list of pieces that I can incorporate into my existing wardrobe and a few pieces that function as statement items - like the gold ASOS boots and the Loewe booties.
My goal this past year has been to be more conscious about what I am buying. To not impulse shop and to ask myself tough questions about the items I spend money on. It’s one of the reasons why I love online shopping: I can add an item to my online cart and then close the tab out and think on it for a bit. A few of the items I wanted from H&M sold out. That gave me time to really think on if I wanted them. And I did so when they came back in stock I ordered them and felt good about my choice. It didn’t feel impulsive or without thought. I recently had a few extra items in my only cart from Forever 21 (where I buy my winter tights and leggings). I looked hard at each item. Did I need it? How would I incorporate them in my wardrobe? What pieces would I wear the with? Did the items excite me? And the answer for most of them was a resounding no. And so I removed them. The pieces that I have purchased that aren’t secondhand are all items that will fit seamlessly into my wardrobe and that I know I will get a lot of use of.
I am not an all or nothing person an I feel like those types of standards can be hard to live up to. Will I continue to purchase fast fashion or new items? Yes. But again, it’s all about being conscious of how I shop and what I buy. And also not buying too much of anything whether it be new or secondhand.