This weekend, I cleaned out my closet. No, not in the way that Eminem meant it, but I literally cleaned it out to make space for a new dress. As my bed started to disappear under a landfill of garments, I kept saying, "I forgot that I had this!" or "Wait, is this even mine? When did I buy this?" That's the problem with being a thrifter. I indulge because the prices let me do so. My dear mother even told me that my weekly trips to Value Village were starting to get "out of control". I would roll my eyes and respond back with something sassy like, "Well at least I'm not spending $100 on a pair of jeans!" Nope, instead I was spending $100 on ten pairs.
After "cleaning" out my closet, I realized that I had become somewhat of a thrift hoarder and that I had an unhealthy addiction to thrifted woman's blazers and Levis jeans. The first tell tale sign was the fact that I had difficulty throwing anything out. "That's cute. I might wear that again." And soon enough, everything, and I mean everything, found its way back into my closet. I thought I shut the door on my shopping problem, but I knew I hadn't when one of my favorite bloggers, Suze, announced on Twitter that she would not be do any shopping for the next six months. This self-acclaimed Diva of vintage was walking away from the sport of finding a good deal for half a year. Her willpower sparked my curiosity and I decided to contact her, as I wanted to find out how she planned to stick to this resolution.
Suze's decision to document her non-shopping journey reminded me of my two favorite fashion blogs. One is called New Dress A Day, which started when Marisa Lynch decided that for 365 days, she would buy then re-design 365 pieces of clothing on a whopping budget of $365. That's right, each garment she wore would only cost her $1. With her trusty sewing machine by her side, she would embark on one of the most creative fashion challenges that I have seen to date. The Uniform Project began when Sheena Matheiken pledged to wear the same little black dress for 365 days. Sheena took it a step further and made it into a fundraiser for a cause close to her heart, helping send underprivileged children in India to school. To date, the Uniform Project has raised over $100,000.
When I read Suze's first blog post about her challenge and its' rules, I was hooked. While similar to the challenges of Marissa and Sheena, hers was more obtainable for me. I can't sew, nor do I want to wear the same garment everyday for the next year. However, I am up for saving a few bucks and revisiting the many treasures hanging in my closet.
Suze's passion for thrifting was instilled in her from an early age. Growing up with parents who loved to restore old cars, her first vivid memory was of her parents fixing up a rust bucket into a pristine '55 Chevy, which led to spending many weekends at car shows. Growing up the youngest of three kids, hand-me-downs were considered the norm. Back-to-school shopping consisted of going through what her older sister had outgrown. But, Suze didn't mind. She laughed and said, "I was an 80's child that grew up in the 50's. I was the only kid on the block with a black and white TV!"
Her reason for taking on the challenge was simple, "My husband and I are trying to save up for a house." She admits that it has been hard to not spend on anything frivolous (not even that new book that she wanted from Target), but she knows that it will be worth it in the end. So how does one create a new look a day, as she even admits that she won't wear the same outfit twice? You go shopping in your closet.
Here are Suze's tips on managing the challenge. Let me say that they are so simple, anyone can do it!
1. Clean out your closet. Get rid of everything that you don't wear. Get your girlfriends together and do a clothing swap, and before you know it, you'll have a whole new wardrobe. You might also find some hidden goodies that you totally forgot about.
2. Go through your email. Delete email blasts and unsubscribe to auto-mailing lists. You won't be tempted to spend money on the SALE you were just e-mailed about.
3. Get creative. You can do this by picking out the elements of a certain look that you already love and see how you can recreate it with what you already have.
See, I told you, it's simple! Fashion, although evolving, is always repeating itself. There are so many elements of style that find their way back on the runway. Look at the impact of Mad Men, for example. That 60's style is starting to re-emerge in collections. When broken down, the look mostly consists of blouses and pencil skirts, wardrobe essentials that has been around forever. You just have to find what elements you really love about it, and it might even mean having a little fun and getting your hands dirty.
A pair of shoes redesigned by Suze and
Sometimes a look requires a simple DIY project. Just look at these amazing shoes that Suze made. She wanted to recreate stylish Miu Miu maryjanes, and knew that it wouldn't cost her an arm and a leg. All it took was some paint, stencils, and the willingness to be creative.
By no means do I think that I am going to stop shopping for the next six months - I haven't reached that level of commitment yet. But, bloggers like Suze and Marissa have helped me look at my clothing in a much different light. How many times do we find ourselves saying, "Ugh! I have nothing to wear," and find ourselves driving to the mall to spend money we may not have. The fact is, we all have plenty to wear; we just need to look at our clothes a bit differently, just as Suze has.
Sign up to receive a weekly dispatch from
The Genteel is committed to delivering quality journalism, unearthing the forces shaping international fashion and design, through the lens of business, culture, society, best kept secrets and street style. As multi-dimensional and stimulating as its readers, The Genteel is the inspired destination where informed readers converge with in-depth fashion and design coverage.
A worldwide collective of contributors currently form The Genteel. On a daily basis our team dispatches thought-provoking and insightful articles from the streets of Oslo, Toronto, Beirut, Moscow, United Arab Emirates, Seoul and beyond.