Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The Intentional Thrifter: Three years of culling the closet

About three years ago, I went "back to school" on getting dressed in the morning. The only thing I was sure of was that I wanted to stop wearing black jeans with everything.  I was also tired of freebie clothes that I'd stretched as far as I could.  Even when I did buy the odd new sweater or blouse, I couldn't figure out what to do with it...except wear it with black jeans. Or blue jeans.

Over those three years, I've shamelessly cycled a large number of thrifted clothes into my closet and out again.  It wasn't hard to get rid of what I didn't like; it was harder settling on what I did. My life does not normally require me to make a business impression or dress like something I'm not, and I'm grateful for that. I've admired photos of expensive (to me) new clothing, but, especially lately, I often get pulled up short by finding something nearby and secondhand that does just as well.
The $2 scarf I bought last week and wore today.

On time spent shopping, I think I spend an average amount, maybe more than some (because quite a few of my friends don't have the time or inclination), but less than women who spend hours browsing malls.  I do like reading a few style websites for fun, and there are a couple of You-tubers I follow, so I guess you'd count that as shopping-thinking time, even if they're not selling anything. Treehouse readers know how often I post photos of new things, but those are usually found in a quick few minutes after a thrift shift.
Silk and linen navy blazer with 3/4 length sleeves (I think). It's a size 14 petite, which should be totally not my size, but it it's a perfect fit. The accompanying pants, however, seem made for a giant. Sometimes you have to buy the package and use what you can.
Things I've Learned

I've learned to be cautious of fast-fashion fabric, new or used. Mass-market "modal" can be just as cheap and disappointing as regular stretchy synthetics. But thrifting is a good antidote for synthetic blahs, especially if your limited budget keeps you away from more inventive (read $$) makers. Used clothes often span a wider variety of price points and fabrics.

I've discovered I'm old enough...and young enough...not to have everything machine-wash-and-dryable. We've always done a lot of line-drying, but I tended to avoid hand-washing when our household was bigger--too much fuss. Like many jobs that initially sound too time-consuming, it's really about having the tools in place to make it a habit. For me, those are dishpans, a timer, and drying racks, plus those extra hangers I mentioned. I think I've ruined just one white top by handwashing it, and that's because it accidentally picked up pink stains from something else.

I've bought some bright colours, but I'm finding I like certain neutrals (grey, off-white, not-too-dark navy) just as much. I've learned that oversized isn't my best friend, and neither is beige of any sort. I keep hoping those beige caterpillars will magically turn into beautiful taupe butterflies, but it's pretty hopeless. I've also learned to stay away from crispy menswear, and pants designed for retirees.

The biggest thing I'm learning recently is to cut the closet fat a bit more, or at least slow the train of comings and goings. As time goes on, I'm recognizing more long-haul clothes "friends," and I feel less like shifting them off to make room for others.

And finally, thrifting isn't just about clothes. Recent book finds:
 I'm looking forward to reading Our Native Song as an addition to our local CM group's music study.
This one's a CM-era relic.

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