Thrifting is my Cardio

Living on a waitress salary can be tricky when you’re lusting after Mansur Gavriel bucket bags and a pair of Celine sunglasses. Trying to stay fashionably fulfilled on a budget can be difficult. It drives most twenty-somethings like me to one (or both) of these options: fast fashion or second-hand shopping.

Fast fashion big-names like Forever21, Zara, and H&M thrive off of young women on budgets who want to wear designer but can’t. Although this sounds like a great alternative to spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on clothes, fast fashion comes for a very different price. Fast fashion is environmentally, socially, and economically irresponsible. Check out this article by The Fashion Law to learn more about the specifics of fast fashion.

After learning about fast fashion my freshman year of college (thanks, Julie!) I decided there had to be a better way to shop. Since then, thrift shopping has been the main way I accumulate my clothes.

There are plenty of different places to buy your clothes depending on budget, what you’re looking for, and your own personal taste.


Vintage stores have high-quality clothing from previous eras. To be considered vintage, clothing must be between 20 and 100 years old. Since fashion is just a reappearance of old trends, this can be one of the best places to shop. Pieces can be pricier because of their age and quality. Oftentimes these items come with great stories since buyers work one on one with their sellers. The designer items are always authentic, and you truly get what you pay for. Vintage stores are my favorite place to buy old jeans (especially Levis), old band tee-shirts, and interesting party pieces.

Vintage items are investment pieces meant to be treasured.


Stores like Playtos Closet, Buffalo Exchange, or Style Encore are all great places to buy on-trend items. It’s a good place to find name-brand clothing for much cheaper. They often have brands from American Eagle to True Religion to Forever21.

Depending on which of these stores you’re shopping at, there may be a lot of fast fashion to sort through. It’s impossible not to stumble on a fast fashion item you really like. If you do choose to purchase one of these, just make sure you aren’t overpaying for the quality of the garment you’re receiving. While fast fashion is never the best option, buying it resale is more desirable than purchasing it directly from the seller.

A common problem I encounter at stores like this is that shopping for something slightly off-trend can be difficult. Because they’re only buying clothing that is in style right at the moment, it can be tricky to find something other people haven’t quite caught on to. For example, most resale stores in the area are not buying wide-legged jeans yet, although within the next few years we’re going to see them become much more popular than the skinny jeans we’ve been wearing the last decade.

Thrift Stores

Stores like Salvation Army and Goodwill can have some of the greatest wardrobe staples around. The only downside to stores like this is it takes a lot of patience and stamina to scour the racks. Sometimes an all-day successful haul at one of these stores can include one pair of jeans and a sweatshirt.

This kind of thrifting is not for the faint of heart. The stores are usually dirty and the clothing is often unorganized. It takes a creative mind to see the potential in some of the worse-for-wear pieces.

That being said, there’s nothing more rewarding than finding a Calvin Klein jacket for $8 when it retailed for over $150. These stores are great places to find interesting pieces that no one else has.


Land’s End pants and Budweiser sweatshirt, brand unknown



With so many alternatives to fast fashion, just remember that ethical consumerism matters. Every time we say no to the clothing that is ruining our environment and creating unsafe work environments, we make a difference. As consumers and people who care about fashion, we have to demand more from the people who produce our clothing.

What are some of your favorite alternative places to shop? What are some of your favorite pieces and finds? Share in the comments or send me a private message to talk more!

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