Jun 2, 2015 - Things to Do

Lessons learned in six months of recycled clothes

closet consignment

closet consignment

Back in December I decided that 2015 would be my year of #NONEWFASHION, purchasing only resale and consigned clothes for 12 months straight. (You can read about that decision here.) Six months in, I’ve only had one strong and sudden urge to buy new clothes, and that was when stores started to roll out the bright new floral spring styles built and marketed by design to make us feel unhappy with what we already have so we buy more, buy more, buy more.

In taking this challenge (that really isn’t all that hard; people do it all the time), I’ve learned a lot about the ethics and economics of fast fashion and the artistry and importance of the American textile revolution. If I care so much about what’s in my food, where it came from and who got it to me, why do I not care equally as much about what’s in my clothes, where they came from and who got them to me? That has been the adventure.

I think I’ll write about all of those big issues one day, but for now, almost halfway through the year, here are five things I’ve learned about myself wearing only recycled clothes for six months.

Getting dressed is easier.

I had this same experience when I stopped eating meat 15 years ago, but basically the fewer options you have the easier it is to make a decision. One vegetarian item on the menu? Done. Easy. Limited clothing options in the closet? Looks like I’m wearing this again then. Works for me.


Keeping up with fashion pressure is gone.

There is tremendous freedom in unapologetically ignoring what’s “hot right now.” Don’t know, don’t care, not buying it.

Not everything should be disposable.

white jeans

I used to focus on getting the cheapest price I could find on clothes. This meant also getting the cheapest quality (think Forever 21). Rather than focus on investing in a wardrobe that would last, I bought cheap pieces I knew would end up destroyed but didn’t care because they were cheap enough to just toss (or donate) and replace. This is a very reckless way to live, especially if we extend this disposable mindset to things like, I don’t know, other human beings or our planet. Last month I took my white jeans to Anna’s Alterations to have the button replaced because this year my option to just go out and buy more is gone. I have to take care of things now. I like that.

Anna's Alterations Charlotte

Tailoring is your friend.

Prior to this year I have never had anything tailored because I used to have a whole slew of sizes to try on and get the right fit. Since resale shopping means you might find the piece you love but in the wrong size, I’ve been buying things big and having them altered to fit. I dropped two skirts off at Anna’s along with my white jeans. I find it all very satisfying and kind of fancy, which is funny since sometimes the alteration costs more than the garment itself.

I am more me.

I like fashion. I like to look cool (whatever that means) and play dress up with life. I like the power to put on who you want to be for the day. I like all of that. But at some point all the outfits become something of a costume to hide behind. With my limited and I guess less impressive wardrobe, who I am is easier to see than what I’m wearing. That’s kind of refreshing.

I’m directing my energy elsewhere.

Clothes just don’t matter this year so I find myself directing my energy into other things like decorating my apartment (instead of myself), reading more things and writing more things. I wouldn’t say fashion has ever consumed a substantial amount of my time, but shopping was definitely a default time filler. Now I do different things–not necessarily better, just different. Different is good.


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