It’s that time of year when the television and newspapers are full of “Back to School” sales and circulars. Although I am well past the age of having to buy new school clothes, losing 65 pounds can diminish the wearability of one’s existing wardrobe. I have have had to purchase new clothes a couple of times already, and with my goal weight still 40 pounds away, I am again needing to — literally — downsize my wardrobe.
I probably don’t have to tell anyone that replacing a larger size wardrobe with new and smaller clothing can be both fun and an expensive undertaking. For just about every 15 pounds you lose, purchasing smaller clothes often become a necessity. Pants start falling off, and I’m not really at an age where the jeans around the knees is considered fashionable.
When I started this journey, I was wearing 48” waist pants that had the little two inches stretchy expander that was stretched to the limit. So I figure in reality, I was had a 50” waist. Today I am sitting here in 42” pants that definitely need a belt to keep my modesty intact.
My friend and blog partner, Kimi, has introduced me to the world of being and Eco-Fashionista. Now, I know you are asking yourself, what exactly is an Eco-Fashionista? Simply put, I have been introduced to the wonderful world of thrift store shopping. Yes, the places where most of us have been taking our cast-offs can become the place to replenish our own wardrobe needs at incredibly reasonable prices. Plus, it’s very good for the planet because I’m recycling vs. buying new.
Goodwill hunting is not only doubly green, it’s also good for the community. Supporting goodwill supports work programs and helping people help themselves.
In other words, it truly is All Good.
Getting Thrifty With It
I am happy to report that I was wrong, wrong, wrong! Here’s how I got started:
Eco-Fashionista Step #1. Get a large box or bag and take all the too large clothing out of your closet, dresser, wardrobes and those boxes hidden under the bed. Prepare to recycle and reuse. Call it going green if you want to, but if nothing else, you are about to be saving some green for sure. Plus, doing this accomplishes a major step in keeping the weight off long term, because there is no “going back.”
Eco-Fashionista Step #2. Decide where to begin. Pick a store and just go. Kimi and I started at the Goodwill that’s about a mile away from our Tuesday night Weight Watchers meeting. Goodwill is perhaps one of the largest nonprofits in the country and runs hundreds of thrift stores. Most towns of any size will have one or more. You can, of course pick any thrift store as a place to start. There is a multitude of them ranging in size from a one room church run store to upscale, larger organizations. Consignment stores are a little easier to navigate as they’re set up like normal retail stores, but the prices tend to be higher than stores run by nonprofits. Of course, there’s always selection to consider as well. At Goodwill or any of the larger thrift stores, your selection will probably be better.
Eco-Fashionsita Step #3. Take someone with you. In my case, I needed someone with more patience than myself, someone with enthusiasm and someone with some fashion sense. Thankfully, Kimi volunteered.
Eco-Fashionsita Step #4. Know what you are looking for and stick to the plan. If you are there for pants and shirts don’t let the DVDs, or house wares distract you. Stay focused!!
Eco-Fashionista Step #5. Be patient and persistent. Thrifting requires digging and imagination. Think of it as a treasure hunt. If you don’t find what you’re looking for today, consider trying another store or trying back another day. Plus, throw a lot of stuff in your cart to try on. Sizes are inconsistent across manufacturers, so it’s important to try everything on before you leave the store. Be sure to look at items closely for any hard to remove stains, missing buttons or unlivable imperfections. Check the return policy as well, just in case you find a problem with the merchandise once you get it home.
Eye on the Prize
On my first trip, I knew I needed two things: new shirts and new pants.
Look, I’m a guy. My office wear and street wear are basically the same. Khaki pants and polo shirts make up 80% of my wardrobe. T-shirts and shorts are the other 20%.
So the search was on. Right out of the gate, I scored two name-brand polo shirts in my new (smaller) size. Soon Kimi had a stack of new shirts on my arm and was rapidly going through the rack. It was at this point when I started noticing that many of the items still had original tags on them and was informed that some stores actually use thrift stores to get rid of over stock items.
Brand new and gently used items? Now this is shopping that I can work with.
Speaking of gently used, as noted in the rules above, absolutely take the time to inspect your finds closely. Even at these low prices, getting something home and discovering a unrepairable hole or stain is no fun. Also, the Return Policy will be different at all stores. At this particular store we were happy to find a 7 day return policy so long as the tags and receipt accompanied the return.
How did I do? In about 30 minutes, I left the store with five new shirts which cost me a total of $24.00. Just one of the polo shirts would have cost me that if purchased new.
Why Cycle the Wardrobe on the Way Down the Scale?
Some may question why bother to purchase new wardrobe before reaching your goal weight?
First off, when losing a large amount of weight it becomes a necessity. No joke – clothes are literally falling off of me after each 15 pound loss.
Perhaps more importantly, nothing feels better than putting on the smaller size that reflects all the hard work you have been doing. The day after my visit to Goodwill, I wore my right-sized clothing to work and barely made it through the door before people noticed the difference.
Okay. To be real about it, walking up the side walk I couldn’t help but notice myself in the mirrored windows, and my friends, it felt very good.
Wearing the smaller sized clothing to reminds me of how far I have come and how good it makes me feel and look.
So get out there to a local thrift store by some right-sized clothing. Put it on, look at that person in the mirror and say, “Damn, I look good!”
Yep, I did that. And it was FUN!
As always, today is just another day in my journey to a healthier and happier me. I am not done yet, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.