Wardrobe Revamp – Preloved Style

Since I wrote about not needing any more clothes No new clothes – learning to love the clothes I have and realising I actually don’t need more., and successfully extended my challenge to not acquire any new or new to me clothing from an initial 4 month period to 10 months, I have really fallen off the wagon when it come to clothes shopping.  Over the last 6 weeks I have acquired, I think, 3 new dresses, 3 new tops, a scarf and a necklace .

But do you know, I don’t feel guilty about it at all – all my recent acquisitions have been pre-owned and purchased in aid of charity, at a friend’s fantastic clothes swap party and the local Oxfam Shop.    These are great ways of having a bit of a wardrobe makeover without breaking the bank, and in a more sustainable way than buying cheap new fast fashion. And this is pretty much all I have bought over the past year.

Buying pre-loved is an easy way to be part of a circular economy, prolonging the life of items and preventing (or at the very least delaying) them ending up in landfill.  My new clothes were all acquired without a need for more resources going into clothes production, and in turn many of the items I no longer wanted were passed on to new owners.

Swishing Party (Clothes Swap)

This has to be my favourite way of looking for some new clothes. Even though I didn’t end up with quite what I wanted this time, it was a great social event.

A friend kindly opened her house to host a swishing party which was really well attended.  I had a bit of a wardrobe rummage and managed to come up with 2 coats, 2 skirts, 4 pairs of trousers, 1 pair of shorts, 1 cardigan, 1 blouse, 2 hats, 2 necklaces, 2 belts and 1 handbag to take along.  Wow, that’s 18 things I had in my wardrobe that I didn’t need or want!  And that’s not counting the ones I couldn’t quite decide about, some of which went later.  I hoped to come home with a dress, ideally a shirt dress.

Clothes swap parties work in a number of ways but for this one, there was a £5 entry fee with clothes sold at a flat rate of 50p per item.  I also took along a bottle of Cava for the raffle and some Prosecco for the evening.  All proceeds were donated to the Red Cross.

As you can see from the poorly focussed pictures above (and I was only on my first glass of prosecco at that point), everyone had managed to turn out a lot of things from their wardrobes, so there was plenty of rummaging to be done, with clothes and bags spread across several rooms in the house and bedrooms serving as shared changing rooms.  Some people knew each other, others didn’t, but trying on clothes together is a great way of breaking down any barriers and we were soon trying things and passing them around between us to see who they suited and fitted best.  A few glasses of Prosecco probably helped!  At the first round of trying things on I decided on a T shirt and was persuaded about a pair of jeans.  Remembering I’d been wishing I had a larger scarf to cover up with when I had caught the sun a week earlier I managed to find one of those too. Sadly, although there were lots of dresses, I didn’t find quite the one for me.

After much rummaging, chatting, drinking and trying on a few more things we congregated for the raffle – there were so many prizes this went on for a while and I eventually won a cute little manicure set.

20160513_212411

At this point in the evening the clothes rails were still bulging so, as some people were starting to leave, I suggested a second round of rummaging.  This turned up a couple of blouses, a T shirt and a necklace to add to my earlier buys.

A couple of the items did end up going straight off to the charity shop when I tried them on at home, where I am sure they got more for them than the £1 I had paid, along with a few extra items I cleared out subsequently.  In total I had spent £8 (excluding the raffle and wine) on a whole load of new things to refresh my wardrobe. And I did achieve my goal of coming home with fewer things than I had donated!

At the end of the evening I helped with the clear up and took a bag of items to the nearly new  shop in town where they earnt some additional money for the Red Cross Charity – the event raised around £350.  I would guess about 10 bin bags full of good quality leftover clothings  were also donated to a variety of charity shops around town from where they hopefully found a good new home as well as raising additional funds.

 

Dresses

Still on the hunt for a dress I popped into my local Oxfam shop and over a few weeks managed to pick up not one, but 3 lovely dresses. My wardrobe has definitely become more dress orientated over the past few years , primarily pre-loved.

The first is a Per Una dress from Marks and Spencer which cost me £6.99.  This is perfect for the office, and happens, by chance, to match perfectly the grey and green necklace I had picked up at the swishing party.

20160610_171703
Per Una Dress for work

My next purchase was a bit of an impulse buy , which I am trying to avoid. We were off out for a walk on my birthday and I spotted a lovely green cardigan in the shop window.  As I was still thinking about it when we walked back I popped in to have a look but sadly it had gone already.  As it was my birthday I had a bit of a rummage through the rails anyway and came up with this casual cotton dress from  Mistral which will be perfect for holidays.  I think this one was £7.99.

20160610_171741
Holiday Dress

I then received an invitation to a family wedding.  I wasn’t going to buy something new but having tried on a few things from my wardrobe,  nothing felt quite right, and I noticed I had put on a little weight round the thighs since a cycling injury last year  which had forced a hopefully temporary reduction in exercise. In a spare 10 mins on the way to pick son up from his town centre school I nipped into Oxfam again and found this lovely Phase Eight dress which is perfect for the occasion and also fits perfectly.  It even goes well with a grey cardigan I have already.  A top quality dress for £12.99.

20160610_171528
Phase Eight Dress for a family wedding

 

I admit to buying another unsuitable dress along the way from a local Facebook group for £4 which I donated to Oxfam along with a couple of old dresses replaced by my new items. and a gorgeous dress from Cancer Research UK’s ebay shop which didn’t fit so is on its way back to find a more suitable new home. You can also buy online from Oxfam

Together all these new items,  including the clothes swap and the items I donated straight on again, set me back less than £40. This is all I have spent on clothes since last July.

And the quest for a shirt dress?  Well I’m about to try dyeing one I have already to give it a new lease of life. Will see how that goes.

What is your favourite way of buying new clothes?

 

 

 

No new clothes – learning to love the clothes I have and realising I actually don’t need more.

Full wardrobe
Full wardrobe ( and I don’t just have the one)

I have always been a bit of a shopaholic and a bargain hunter when it comes to clothes.

A few years ago I spent a year not buying new clothes – there’s a little about it on my separate (now discontinued)   blog https://prelovefashionandrecycling.wordpress.com/

That time my challenge was to only buy second hand clothing for a year.  Excluded from this were shoes and underwear, and things bought with birthday gift vouchers.  As I went through the year I found I couldn’t get leggings second hand so allowed these new (loosely under the underwear category since I tend to layer them under dresses).

Actually the challenge was far easier than I expected and by the end of the year I had amassed loads of “new to me” clothing, along with far more new shoes and underwear than I possibly actually needed.  And I felt good because I had spent lots in charity shops. Although I went back to buying some new clothes, I continued to get well over 50% second hand.

Back in September last year I signed up for zero waste week and shortly after decided that perhaps it was time for a new clothes related challenge.  This time I was not just going to not buy new clothes, but not buy, or acquire, any additional clothes, shoes or underwear, whether new or pre-owned ( with one exception – see below).  Because this was a tougher challenge ( certainly one my husband thought I had 0% chance of sticking to), I set a more modest timescale – until Christmas, and set myself one exception which was a pair of specialist shoes needed for an arthritic toe as the old pair had started giving me blisters.

Actually I had only bought one item of clothing since July – a second hand dress which turned out not to fit and was donated back to charity.  So effectively my challenge began in July.

Allowing myself an exception for shoes in advance was perhaps not such a great idea as I quickly ordered a pair online (mistake to browse ebay after a glass of wine – I should know better) .  In the end I didn’t keep them – my old boots turned out to just need breaking in again for the winter and soon became comfortable again, and the new shoes didn’t really fit so after a few weeks I listed them back on ebay and sold them on.

Christmas came and went.  My only challenge really was a Christmas do at work which required a posh outfit.  I already had a gorgeous black satin fishtail wiggle skirt from Coast in the cupboard, picked up in a charity shop a few years earlier and never worn as I had struggled to find any shoes to go with it that I could actually walk in (I’m usually in either summer Birkenstocks or clumpy MBT boots).  A friend came up trumps with a pair of flat pointy court shoes she’d picked up in a charity shop which she lent me for the evening.  And my auntie lent me a lovely black lace top and a silver scarf (since we had a black/white/silver theme).  My auntie is a bit skinnier than me so the top was a bit on the tight side but altogether I was really happy with the outfit and I could even walk (and dance) in the shoes which friend now has on standby for me to borrow again should the need arise. And I had a lovely evening.

So, I made it until Christmas, and do you know what, I still couldn’t really think of anything I needed or even particularly wanted by way of clothing.  I unexpectedly received a gift voucher from work for long service and really struggled to spend it. After buying some things to help with my zero waste journey such as lush deodorant bars and storage tins, a loofah, a soap dish and replacing a really scratched wok with a hopefully longer lasting enamelled one,  I could only think of looking for clothes for the remainder  (I was limited to a specific shopping centre) but really wasn’t inspired by anything so aside from a nightdress ( as I had got rid of 2 just before starting zero waste – as my mending efforts had failed)  I bought some “functional” items – a thermal underdress, a pair of leggings and a couple of pairs of bamboo socks.  Aside from those I have still not acquired anything new, or even second hand.

At the start of this I shared my challenge with the folk over at the  Zero Waste Heroes Facebook Group to give me some motivation.  Someone commented that I would learn to really love the clothes I had.  I wasn’t sure, I thought I might get bored , but actually they were spot on.  I have culled quite a few things I wasn’t so keen on ( to charity shop) and most of my wardrobe is now things I really like (including the purple woollen dress in my post from a few years back).

So, my challenge has extended to cover 9 months, and I have to say that it has really changed my attitude towards buying new clothes.  I found that:

1)  I already owned way too many clothes

2)  I could donate some and still have more than enough

3)  Asking whether I need something really helps, and has extended way beyond clothing

4)  Because this attitude has extended beyond just clothing I have saved an average of £250 per month on my personal spending.  Considering I was mainly buying cheap second hand clothing to start with that is a phenomenal amount!

Going forward I will continue to ask myself how much clothing I really need and when I do need something be sure it is something I really love, and which fits me really well.  I like the recycling element of buying second hand so will continue to do this but where I do need new I am going to focus more on buying such new items from ethical companies – it may cost more, but I will be buying fewer items.

I have been invited to a charity clothes swap party next week (arranged by the good friend who kindly lent me her shoes).  So I am going to have a day off, at least, from not acquiring anything new to me.  But I am determined that I will bring home fewer items than I donate to the swap.  More about that in a future post.

I am still sorting out items to swap but so far have picked out 2 coats, a pair of velvet trousers (freshly dry cleaned and embarrassingly still unworn from the last clothes swap a couple of years ago) and a skirt to go:

Starting to gather items for the clothes swap
Starting to gather items for the clothes swap

What is your approach to buying new clothes and how often do you clothes shop?

You can now follow me on Facebook and Twitter using the links at the top.

Post featured on  Thrifty Thursday

thrifty-thursday-badge