Self Expression. It’s important, right? Because humans are individuals, and everyday we express ourselves in a myriad of ways. Through how we look, how we act, and what we create, people come to know who we are. Strangers passing by rarely get a chance to know how we act and what we create, but they will see how we look. And while we have only limited control over our sizes and shapes, we have full control over what we choose to put on in the morning. The clothes we wear say a lot about who we are. Apparel can signify a person’s social class, culture, personality, and more. This is nothing new, and most everyone knows and accepts fashion as the multi-billion dollar industry it has become. Clothing is an important part of human societies.
Unfortunately, in many ways clothing is a very destructive part of human societies. Clothing production is responsible for huge amounts environmental damage. Makers of clothing suffer terrible working conditions. Sellers of clothing use profits to fuel unjust causes. Advertisers of clothing create insecurities among truly beautiful people whose beauty does not conform to their artificial ideal.
And self expression? Self-expression has been walled in by narrow standards of acceptable attire. Self-expression has become sameness commodified.
Thankfully, OLD MAKES GOLD!
It is completely unnecessary to contribute our funds to this harmful cycle. Clothing has been around for centuries – why would anyone need to buy it new? Thrift stores exist for a reason, and I for one am so, so glad. I will occasionally post pieces of my personal style that I have acquired second-hand as an attempt to prove this point and inspire readers to give up their [insert favorite new clothing store here] habit. Here are a couple of my favorite finds from last summer:
I bought this romper for $12 at Buffalo Exchange in Seattle’s University District. I really appreciate how rompers make it possible to sit cross legged in what feels like a dress, without flashing people! The tag says “Accomplice”. It is perfect for a hot day, and seeing it now is making me long for summer.
This was another find from Buffalo, I think just $10. I love the colors and the way it flows. I wore it as often as possible, and can’t wait to bust it out again in the spring. The dress is a size 14 and was made by Murray Meisner sometime in the 70s. It looks pretty boxy on me without the belt, which I took from me and my sister’s old costume closet. This dress also has pockets - in my mind a HUGE bonus.
Photo credit goes to my friend Darcy Noonan.