My journey with fashion, started somewhere in the 70’s. I’m not sure exactly how old I was before I became aware of fashion, but it was really early in my life. My mother taught me to knit when I was around 5 years old, and the very first thing I knitted was a halterneck dress for my Kewpie doll? Anyone remember them? But I digress…
Needless to say, I have had many different ‘styles’ through the different stages and ages of my life. My mother made most of our clothing growing up. It was how things were done back then. At that stage of my life, my sister, who is 17 months younger than me, and I, were often dressed the same. We were never mistaken as twins though, as we looked so different. I grew up thinking this was normal, but soon found my own identity when I was around 12 years old. This was when I went off to boarding school. Oh how I loved creating different outfits back then. I went to an all girls’ school and we had so much fun with our ‘civvies’ clothing. We wore a uniform to school, but the weekends proved to be a fun time where my growing love of fashion was concerned. We used to borrow each other’s clothes and come up with some pretty cool looks.
Fast forward to when I left school and went off to study. I studied nursing for 4 years. My entire, minuscule salary, was spent on clothing after rent and food was paid. I wish I had some good quality photos to share with you all from this time of my life. Our group of friends also shared clothing and this provided some great pieces to create some outrageous outfits. This was back in the 80’s. You could pretty much wear anything and be in fashion. A fun era, although, looking back, not a very stylish time in fashion. I did have one friend who had a classic style. She seemed to always look polished and timeless and even back then, when most of us were wearing neon, crazy leopard print and Boho clothing, this one friend, always managed to stand out.
In 1989, I finished with my diploma, and I had a baby. I was a single mother, and all ideas of fashion flew out the window as the reality of single-motherhood set in. Anyone who has ever navigated parenthood alone, especially if they were young, knows that it’s financially tough. My money was spent on my daughter and on making a home for us. For many years to come, there was no extra money for fashion and clothing. It was a humbling time in my life. Many friends would gift me their second-hand clothing. They never gave me anything that wasn’t in perfect condition and to this day, I’m so grateful for their generosity. However, this was the beginning of me losing my own style.
And so, my perception around second-hand clothing, was cemented. People who wore second-hand, in my opinion, were poor people. This idea stayed with me for many years. When I could eventually afford to buy my own clothing, you bet they were new and so started many years of wasteful shopping. You know the feeling – I am certain of that! We have all been there where we don’t really need an item, but we buy it anyway because it might look good with that nice skirt hanging in our closet, or there is a possibility we will wear it to an event. This is not my own unique experience for sure.
Fast forward to the beginning of this year. After giving away so much of my clothing to friends, and becoming increasingly aware of how much I discard without getting proper use out of my pieces, I made a decision to only buy one item of clothing and one pair of shoes per month from January 2019! This was HUGE for me. I am a shoe-holic. But the thing is, after a year, I’m giving away shoes that are practically brand new. I needed a mindset change. So came the self-imposed ‘slow-fashion challenge.’ And it worked.
Within a few months, Matilda joined MSJ and we started on a far more sustainable journey. I started to watch videos about thrifting, and I loved the outfits the women were creating. They could express their own unique flair, without compromising on style! Because we had started to be more mindful in all areas of our lives, even watching where we were buying from, and trying as much as possible to support local brands, sustainable and ethical brands, thrifting began to appeal to me more and more.
So why do I thrift? The main reason is to keep clothing in the loop/cycle for longer. It is more sustainable. Buying new feeds into that whole idea that I have to have new and pretty things. I no longer believe that. Another reason I thrift is to spend less on clothing. I was becoming increasingly wasteful with my budget, and I want to travel more internationally. In order to do that, I need to save more. Thrifting helps me to do that. My final reason is that I get to find unique items. I draw inspiration from the current trends and I shop pre-loved to help me create similar looks, but with my own signature twist!
For the first time in my life, I am thinking about the outfits I put together. When you shop fast fashion, you don’t have to put much thought into how the outfit comes together. Everything is new and you just throw it on – or at least I did. Now, I take time creating curated outfits from old and new pieces, putting them together with much care and thought. I am loving the variety I have added to my closet since I started thrifting. I might have a tweed jacket, but it’s nothing like the ones now available in store. I love finding trendy pieces for a fraction of the price. It excites me when I find an item pre-loved that is on my ‘list’. Yes, I have a list of items I want to add to my closet!! Can you believe that? My previous shopping style was completely spontaneous. I put so much more thought into it now.
I will end this segment with this quote: “I love it when someone else pays full price for the item I now wear.” I don’t remember where that quote came from, but I do love it.