Sit down. You need to do some big picture thinking.
Shopping is cheaper than therapyAnonymous
Well, do you? Thrift?
I never really did growing up, thrift stores don’t exist in Nigeria. And this isn’t coming from a self-righteous, fifty-foot umpire-type seat but Nigerians have too much pride for it, I think. Second-hand clothes are not something you sell, they are given away and they exist only in the world of orphanages and refugees.
2014 brought the term or at least the idea to my attention. I spent a lot of time on Wattpad, deeply submerged into the world of bland white girls living out their Disney-esque lives through “bad boy” jocks that thought they had nice boobs.
I was really into that type of… content.
The Tumblr years, I know you remember them. They made vintage cool. I’m sure the millennials just laughed in our faces; they way we were blindly drawn to an aesthetic they had discarded like used condoms.
Wow, I’m 2 for 2 with these lurid comments today.
But you get the point. Thrift stores were such a vibe and they still are. But take it from me, it’s more than just about the aesthetics. So, how about I give you five reasons to start thrifting if you don’t already.
And let’s hope I get to five because I never know what I’m writing until I actually write it.
- It’s cheap.
I know you saw me coming with this one.
There is NO greater reason. Honestly. Do you love shopping? I love shopping. I hate the anxiety that trying to allocate my funds to ensure a satisfiable level of content I get when I go shopping but nothing feels better than when you grab that jacket that is so cute and you put it on and it fits.
Actually one thing is better… when you look at the price tag and it says $6 even though it looks like it should be $30.
And we’ve talked about this before, I’m a broke college student, you probably are too. If you aren’t, you were one and you’re probably still broke now, so what’s better than a little retail therapy that doesn’t leave you starving for the next month?
2. It teaches very valuable skills.
No this isn’t like that boring field trip to the… I don’t know, atmosphere lab or wherever they’re taking kids to these days.
Education transcends math and science. There’s things they don’t ever teach you, not even in college. They tell you that first impressions matter and that you should dress formal (nice, basically) for professional advancement, but if you either have no sense of style or just a really really bad one, then how can you professionally advance yourself?
They don’t teach you how to shop. This sounds like exactly the kind of thing a lazy, self-entered Leo would say; well, that’s exactly who I am but it’s true. Shopping isn’t just about knowing what looks right or what looks right on you. It’s about the persistence. Ross (the U.S-based retailer, for those who don’t know) has a pretty bland exterior, sometimes it will even have the most disorganised and trashy layout but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing worth finding. Thrift stores, because they have this intrinsic one-in-a-million nature teach you to hunt for your clothes as a lioness hunts prey. You have to be instinctive, you have to be specific and you have to be persistent.
It’s the only way to do it.
3. In some cases, it will involve encouraging small businesses.
Goodwill has left the group chat.
I’ve never actually bought a thing from Goodwill. I haven’t been bothered enough to walk all the way to the Goodwill on Iowa because ATC (Arizona Trading Company) is much easier for me to get to despite the distance and is so cute and yes, aesthetically pleasing.
I also just really like the ambiance, the creaking floorboards are quite soothing.
In most cases, thrift stores will be small businesses relying on their personality and the general attitude towards their nature of business to reel in customers. They will of course, also be relying on customers like me to keep coming back for things like the ambience, the style (because thrift stores have their own specific style) and to tell others to come as well.
Supporting small businesses is necessary because in case you haven’t noticed this is a disgusting capitalist society (depending on what country you live in) and the H&Ms, Asos’, (not Forever 21 because, they’re going broke) and the Fashion Novas will run everyone else off the market. The only people really guaranteeing their survival and having an actual effect on their livelihood is you.
Besides small business are cute; they’re such a vibe, they care about customer experience and retention, quality product and in most cases will embody the spirit of the town in which they exist.
Does that make me sound like a college student who is actually pursuing an education?
4. Thrifting encourages you to broaden your horizons.
Because thrift stores have their own style and they essentially have single copies of each item of clothing, you have to make compromises. Look, you’ve walked into a thrift store already, you’re here for the benefits of affordable clothing and accessories, you’re here because there’s just something about being here that makes you feel good.
Thrift stores are seriously good for your mental health.
But it’s not H&M– that’s a fact. You can’t ask the store attendees for those cute boots in size 8.5 and you can’t dig through a pile of jeans for a pair of whitewashed jeans in size 4.
I didn’t even know I was a size 4 until I had to do a mad scramble in a crowded H&M (because what H&M isn’t crowded?)
Thrift stores however, will bend you. As much as you have to be persistent to find the right things for yourself, you have to keep an open mind. You have to be prepared to admire what’s available and see them for what they are rather than what you’re looking for. Because thrift stores will have a wide variety of things on sale, they may or may not be just what you had in mind but there will be something you maybe never thought of buying or wearing that suddenly could look like a great idea.
And the true fashionistas never say never.
5. It’s good for the environment!
First of all, yay, we made it to 5! Second of all, I saved the best for last.
This one’s easy and my eyes are drying up writing this so I won’t waste your time. Fast fashion is wasteful. I love H&M, Zara, Bershka, Nasty Gal, etc. I love these brands for their style but I am aware of the disregard for ethics where production is concerned and I am aware of the cost to the environment. I understood this on a more up close perspective last summer when I found myself visiting multiple H&Ms all across Germany and saw just how alike they are, I saw how similar their layouts are, how they have the exact same things in abundance all across stores. Things I didn’t buy in one store because I thought they were too expensive would crop up in another one to torture me.
There’s so much of this stuff being made and so much that isn’t bought, where does all that clothing go? It’s definitely not going back to the underage, underpaid workers who are directly responsible for the production of these clothes.
Aside from the way that fast fashion culture directly and very obviously links to waste, the production of these clothes in response to meeting certain production quotas has a damaging effect on the environment. Clothes these days are made with synthetic fibre, these are not renewable materials, they are not biodegradable. They are made from non-renewable resources that through our washers, find their way into our water, into the bodies of fish ultimately polluting the food chain.
Thrifting promotes a sense of environmental consciousness. Once you get over the irrational fear of wearing someone else’s clothes, you start to lean more into the environmental pros; which make the whole experience far more enjoyable and leaves a good taste in your mouth.
All in all, I think its important for people; especially as they get older, to adopt new patterns and lifestyles that not only reflect on us, but leave behind some kind of positive and recognisable impact on the world.
Also did I mention I got some cute stuff from ATC last weekend?