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"Slow Fashion" is Ethical Fashion

| 1/26/2020 5:32:00 PM

I was a new mom with not enough hours in the day to think about my wardrobe and not enough money to buy new. A charity re-sale shop was my destination shopping spot. So when my mother invited the family for lunch with a distant relative visiting from Sweden, I can remember puzzling—no, agonizing—over what to wear. The woman worked in fashion design! I loved my mother and didn’t want to embarrass her. I finally went to my closet and grabbed a blue and white striped cotton long-sleeved shirt I’d  found in a thrift shop and put it under a white pullover sweatshirt. And jeans—part of my daily uniform. Simple was the best I could pull off in this situation.

The Swedish fashion designer was elegant, of course—beautiful, and not at all over-dressed for our very casual family. Over lunch my sister asked the inevitable question, “So what is the ‘in-fashion’ in Sweden now?”

She thought for a moment and then pointed to me, “Much like what Mary is wearing—simple, layered….” I don’t remember the rest of her comments, but she made my day!  I still have that striped cotton shirt, some 35 years later, even though the cotton has worn quite thin.

That experience was part of what made me into the re-sale shop junkie I am today. Apparently, many of you are, too. High-end consignment shops and big box thrift stores are popping up faster than tattoo parlors next to taverns.

I’ve been chasing down re-sale shops for almost 40 years. I’ve gloated over finding an almost new Ralph Lauren black sweater for a few dollars, and I’ve cried over a beautiful knit turquoise throw I bought for the sofa. Somewhere between the washing machine and the living room, it turned into 50,000 cute little spider-sized shawls.

refinished trunk from thrift store
This was one of my first finds in a thrift shop over 50 years ago. A coat of varnish on the wood, and a dark green paint on the body brought it back to life. It's been a terrific storage unit since then.

Having babies was my introduction to bargain hunting. Babies grow way faster than weeds. Mine never had a chance to wear out clothing, even when they were crawling, and their pudgy little knees were red by bedtime. Every three months I was moving them into a whole new set of clothing.  We were living on a tight budget, so by the time they began to wear out clothing faster, I was ready for those thrift shop runs. Kids’ clothing was expensive—but not where I was shopping.

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