This past November I pledged to buy nothing new for the entire month. It started as my own personal challenge that I embarked on to help me grow more conscious about how and where I was shopping. Shopping second hand is one of the best ways you can join the slow fashion movement while simultaneously curating your style and maximizing your budget. Hence, why I decided to partake in the Nothing New November Challenge this year as well.
One the most common concerns millennials have about stepping away from fast fashion (Missguided, H&M, Zara, etc.), is that they can’t afford to purchase new clothing from sustainable brands. Fast fashion is only able to offer such low prices on their garments at the expense of the millions of women who work in factories to create them, so when you buy that $14 shirt from Forever21, you’re actually helping to propel the unjust system of overworked and underpaid makers in countries across the globe. Not to mention, the environment is also taking a toll.
The beauty of second hand shopping is that it offers an affordable way to practice sustainability. In order to lower the amount of clothing going into landfills, we need to keep garments cycling through multiple generations of wearers. Second hand shopping and donating helps enable this, because even if you’re done with a piece of clothing, someone else can continue to put it to use.
I wear used clothes not because I have to, but because I choose to. I choose to exercise my spending power to do good. I wear my values. I feel good about my purchases knowing that I’m contributing to the circular economy, reducing waste, and decreasing the demand on the fashion industry to produce faster and cheaper clothing.
Thrifting and scouring consignment shops is one of the most sustainable ways you can shop. Second hand fashion is sustainable fashion.
So how does one score the best finds when second hand shopping? Rounded up below are all of my tips and tricks for finding the best second hand garments and styling them like a professional.
How to Thrift Shop Like a Pro
New to second hand shopping? Here are some vintage shopping tips that will help you up your shopping game the next time you step into a consignment shop.
Buy quality: if there are brands you know are questionable, such as most fast fashion brands, my suggestion is to pass on those. They’re less likely to hold up for the long haul.
Multitaskers: the items you can mix and match the most are going to give you the most bang for your buck. The more wears you get, the better for you and the planet.
Buy only the items you need and want: to keep me on track, I keep an album of looks on my phone that I’m actually in need of. It’s also a good reminder to resist the impulse buy.
How to transform secondhand looks from drab to fab
Sometimes it’s not just about the clothes, but how you wear them. Remember to accessorize and personalize! Add your own unique touch by mixing and matching in your favorite tried and true accessories already sitting in your closet.
For instance, I have a small collection of antique jewelry I’ve gathered over the years from trips to the Paris Flea Markets. No matter what my outfit is, if I’m wearing one of those pieces, I get the most comments. Unique and unusual things like that can elevate a look in an instant.
One of the easiest ways to make average clothing look extraordinary is by accessorizing.
Think street style chic. I recommend doing a search for ‘street style’ on Pinterest or Instagram and seeing how the street style girls are dressing. Take notes. Save some screenshots on your phone of your favorite looks.
Oftentimes you’ll see a lot of pieces like belts, scarves, and blazers. Additional accessories like statement shoes and hats go a long way in completely reinventing a look and adding individuality.
With the money you save on shopping secondhand, it’s easy to justify spending a little more on tailoring to get that perfect fit. Let’s face it — we wear the clothes we feel best in, which equates to clothing that is comfortable and well-fitting.
If we love what we have in our closets, we are less likely to continue shopping for excess garments that we don’t really need.
Even if you second hand shop only 50% of the time, you are still making a difference, having a positive impact on the environment, and conserving resources that would otherwise be used up on the sourcing, production, and shipping of brand new items. Nothing New November offers one opportunity to put yourself up to the challenge of buying less and buying thoughtfully, but the truth of the matter is that shopping second hand never goes out of style, no matter the day, month, year, or season.
If you’d like to participate in the Nothing New November Challenge, it’s easy! If you choose to shop, shop second hand. Style a look using your second hand finds and/or items you already own, snap a pic, post it, tag @iamlauramadden + @remakeourworld + use #nothingnewnovember for a chance to be featured!