After my baby was born, I needed a whole new wardrobe, but as a self-employed person on parental leave, I had no income. I had been meaning to try secondhand shopping for a while but was intimidated by the idea of sifting through a lot of stuff to find anything good. When I heard about Nicole and her thrift stylingshorts, I hired her. We got me a whole new wardrobe for under $200, and I’ve never looked back.

On this month’s Breakfast Television Edmonton ‘Do Gooder Lifestyle’ segment, Nicole and I will be showing off the spring wardrobe we recently thrifted for me. It also happens to be a ten item wardrobe – a concept that has significant impact of its own. Scroll down below the video for more info on why and how to do this.

Sustainability Wins of Thrifting and Buying Less:

  • North Americans consume an enormous amount of clothing every year. It’s cheap, easy to find, and easy to discard when we want the next thing
  • There are huge ethical issues with the production of this fast fashion. For example, a garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh in 2013 that killed over 1200 workers and injured over 2500 more. The owners knew it was likely to collapse. The other businesses in the building were evacuated, but not the garment workers. (source)
  • There are huge environmental issues with the production of fabric cheap enough for mass consumption. Water pollution, resource consumption, and manufacturing waste are just a few of the impacts. About 10% of the agricultural chemicals used worldwide are processed by the cotton sector alone. (source)
  • Thrifting, secondhand shopping, and buying less puts a wrench in the works of this fast fashion machine. When you thrift your clothes, you reduce the demand for more to be purchased. You also reduce the flow of discarded fashion that is filling up landfills and getting dumped on overseas markets, causing havoc with those economies. The average North American throws out about 80 pounds of textiles a year. (source).

How to do it:

  • Buy secondhand – consignment or thrift.
  • Take the time you used to spend in the mall in the thrift shop. Turns out, it’s just as easy to sort through a store worth of secondhand items as it is to sort through a mall or big box store worth. Once you get used to it, you will be amazed you were ever intimidated by the process.
  • Do a little homework beforehand – search the internet to identify what kind of things you are looking for. I use Pinterest boards to keep track of looks that would work for me in terms of what I like and the functionality I need.
  • Buy less by building a ten item wardrobe: a combination of shirts, pants, skirts, dresses, and shorts. Blazers, cardigans, layering tees, accessories and shoes do not count in the ten. Get a few of those extras to increase the versatility of your basic ten items. Buy ten things of high quality that you love and will not mind wearing a lot. Mix and match to create many outfits.
  • Get comfortable with being a little dressier than you’re used to sometimes. If dresses are 20% of your wardrobe, they can’t be just for special. It’s ok to look nice to go to the store or cook dinner, though, right?

Lifestyle Wins:

  • COST!!! We got the ten items for this spring fashion wardrobe for only $75. If you add in extras (3 blazers, a pair of shoes, earrings, a purse), it still came in at only about $105. This is the ONLY way to get an entire wardrobe for that kind of money.
  • Happiness factor: having too much stuff has been proven to make us less happy. Clutter, not enough storage, trying to keep it all clean and tidy, what to do with it when we are done – it’s a source of stress (source).
  • No more fights over closet space.
  • It’s incredibly easy to pack for a trip.

The Ten Items:

  1. Cargo pant/cropped pants (Nevada) $3.50shorts
  2. Navy shorts (Banana Republic) $5.60
  3. Orange skirt (Vince Camuto) $7.00
  4. Black and white print dress (Jessica) $7.80
  5. Colourful print dress (9&Co.)$7.80
  6. Colourful paisley top (Talbots) $7.00
  7. Anchor print top (Ricki’s) $4.20
  8. Green top (Reitman’s) $4.90
  9. Striped top (Chances R) $4.20
  10. Gingham top (Joe) $4.90