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Thoughtful Style | Thrifted Polka Dots

Ethical Details: Thrifted top and cardigan; Everlane jeans and shoes (on sale); Retrospecced vintage glasses

At some point a few months ago, I got it in my head that I wanted a navy, polka dot, wrap top. I half-heartedly checked my favorite ethical brand websites, knowing that there wasn’t a high likelihood I’d find that precise combination. I also scanned local thrift shops weekly to see if anything fitting that description had been donated. At one point, I snatched up a long sleeve, dotted blouse, by J. Crew at a Richmond thrift shop, but, while it suited my needs in cooler weather, it wasn’t ultimately what I was looking for.

Then I went on a lucky thrift excursion on a last minute trip to Baltimore, and found this blouse! I would have preferred a stretch cotton rather than this polyester, but the drape, cut, and fit is beautiful. It’s (almost) exactly what I wanted. And (likely) the closest match I was going to find given the ethical guidelines that limit my shopping options.

Thrifting can be magic, and the longer I’m at this task of shopping ethically, the more grateful I am for secondhand options. It is undeniably true that part of the reason thrift shops can offer such a good selection is because of mass overconsumption in the first place – and as a thrift shop manager that’s a complicated reality I have to negotiate every day – but there is something so wholesome about being able to “give something new life” even if it amounts to a drop in the bucket on the global scale.

I am also realizing, due to other things going on in my life, that I’m the kind of person who benefits from having fewer choices. I’d rather get in my head what I want ahead of time and then strategically reduce my available options so that I know that the choice I made is the best choice I had within those metrics. What I mean is that thrifting – and shopping on the secondhand market more generally – gives me a nice set of parameters to move within so I don’t get overwhelmed.

Shopping from fast fashion retailers is, sort of by design, overwhelming in its overabundance. I’m such a perfectionist in the first place that I’d rather sit in the “good enough” space than feel that I must make it my life’s goal to find the perfect thing.

Plus, when I do find that exact thing I’m looking for nestled into a rack at the thrift store, I’m even more convinced that life is a wonderful mystery and not just a meaningless set of circumstances.

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