Hi there! Thanks for joining me for a discussion on the many benefits of purchasing vintage, pre-owned and secondhand items. I bet there are more than you think!
- First off, it's incredibly sustainable and better for the environment! This is because no new resources or energy are being used to create the product, lessening the burden of what goes into the trash and what the factories put out that pollutes the air and water and that exploits the workers or animals involved.
- Vintage and antique items (especially furniture!) are almost ALWAYS made better, of higher quality materials and are built to last! You'll be hard-pressed to find too many vintage tables and bookshelves built out of flimsy plastic or MDF (I absolutely hate MDF - you'll probably hear me mention that a lot on this blog!).
- Secondhand shopping has become easier and more accessible than ever before! Search your area for garage sales, yard sales, thrift shops and consignments stores, and there are even several online options as well, like shopping this site with The Mustard Dandelion! There are also sites like ThreadUp, Poshmark, eBay and Etsy.
- Shopping vintage and secondhand is typically cheaper than buying new! Unless of course you're looking for a certain Eames mid-century chair, you can find furniture sets for entire rooms for a fraction of what it would cost to buy new.
- Buying vintage and thrift lets you cultivate a beautiful and unique home over time so that you can really collect and display items that you love, instead of just a closet full of vases and frames that you bought on a whim for each trip you took to TJMaxx just to fill up a space (I'm definitely guilty of this, haha, but I have since gotten rid of a lot of items in my home that I don't truly love!)
- Vintage clothing lets you have a truly fun and unique closet, and you basically get to wear a piece of history! And with pre-loved items you might just be able to find a previously sold out item that you've always had your eye on, like the items found in my Modcloth Clothing/Accessory/Home Collections and my Anthropologie Clothing (click here, here, here and here) & Anthropologie Accessory/Home Collections.
- As people are growing more and more concerned about the environment and being sustainable a lot of attention has come to what clothing brands out there are actually ethical and sustainable and what are just "fast fashion". The most sustainable wardrobe is first of all the one that you already have - is your closet so stuffed right now that you can't even see everything that you own? I know I've definitely had that problem before! Try taking a deeper look and thinking about new ways to pair things up, or give a Capsule Wardrobe a try. The second most sustainable thing you can do isn't necessarily to shop the sustainable brands - it's by purchasing secondhand and vintage clothing. Many people are worried that buying sustainable fashion and staying away from the cheap and mass-produced brands like H&M, Forever21 and Zara is expensive, but purchasing secondhand has been proven to be way more cost-effective, proving that shopping sustainable is NOT expensive. And of course there are a few sustainable clothing brands out there with more and more popping up all the time. Just make sure that if sustainability is important to you that you check on a brand or store's ethics and transparency.
- Many pre-owned and secondhand items in thrift and consignment stores and online still have their tags attached and are brand new! I'm sure all of us have purchased something in a store because we thought we loved it (I really do!), that it would match sooo many other things already in our wardrobe (nope), because it looked so good on us (but somehow only in that store's dressing room - darn you, Anthropologie lighting!) only to have it sit in our closet for months or even YEARS with the tags still on. In fact, most of the items listed in my Anthropologie, Modcloth, and New & Pre-Loved Collections still have their original tags attached! You can shop all of these sections by clicking here and scrolling down the Collections menu on the left.
One of my favorite vintage finds ever, and it made for the perfect accent to this outfit:
And here's another one, spotted at an antique store:
And no shade to TJMaxx at all! I have plenty of things in my home that I have purchased from that store that I love, including one of my favorites, this lamp:
So many great details!
So if you're asking yourself what do I do with items I no longer want, I'm here to offer a few tips and suggestions!
- Trade with a friend or family member or give them away! Clothes Swap parties are becoming increasingly popular, and it doesn't have to be limited to clothing and accessories - throw in some pillows, rugs, frames, vases...anything! Just sending a group text to friends with a photo and a "hey - does anyone want this rug?" can work wonders and help clear your clutter in no time. Even if they don't need it they might know of someone who could use it, like someone who is moving out on their own or purchasing their first home.
- There are many places locally that accept donations, and specific donations can be mailed as well. I like to find places that are especially in need of items instead of just trekking up to my local Goodwill to drop off everything, but if one stop is all you have time for, then great! Better that then those items ending up in a landfill or taking up valuable space in your garage. Check out your local APL to see a list of items that they accept - popular items include sheets & towels, blankets, cleaning supplies, unused cat food and dog food, and even office supplies. Women's shelters or shelters for displaced people can use any number of items, such as clothing, personal care products, children's clothing and toys, books and food. Google one that's located near you! There are also Wildlife Rescue Habitats that accept items like old fur coats for soothing orphaned wild babies. (Besides, who wants to wear a fur coat these days?? You're likely to get dirty looks or paint splattered on you anyway!). Children's hospitals also accept donations, but please double-check with the hospital first to see what items they accept and what condition they must be in. Habitat for Humanity will arrange for pickup for your furniture and other items in most places. There are also websites you can check out where you can find out where to drop off or mail wedding dresses, formal dresses, business wear, coats, books, art & craft supplies, CDs & DVDs, sports equipment, musical instruments, bras, cell phones, eyeglasses, and more. Please note that it's important to double-check with each organization first to make sure of what items they accept, the condition the donations need to be in, and any set drop off limits or scheduled times. Local schools might also take donations of supplies. Being specific with our donations and intentions might be slightly more work in research, phone calls and travel but it feels SO GOOD to give to places and people that really need those items. I remember getting a thank you card from the children at a local hospital after I dropped off a few bags of things and it was so special and sweet and made any work I had to do completely worth it.
- Have a garage sale, sell items online or on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. Keep in mind that a garage sale is a lot of work, but if you have a whole household of items (say if you're moving or downsizing) then this might be a great solution. You can always invite friends or family to participate and bring in items that they'd like to get rid of as well. Selling on eBay or Poshmark is quick and easy. Selling on Etsy requires you to set up a shop and you can only list items for sale that are vintage, handmade, or craft supplies. Just remember that these options require some time, effort and shipping supplies and you have to take photos of the items too.
Dressed in head-to-toe vintage for a 1960's-themed party!
Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you found these tips helpful! I have a few books that I use as refreshers from time to time when I'm cleaning out my closet or getting rid of items that ask great questions, and I plan to share some excerpts from the books in future blog posts. What about you? Have you found any tips or tricks to reducing your clothing and home purchases that you'd like to share? Leave a comment below!
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