When To Thrift and When To Splurge

My grandmother used to say, "when you have enough real diamonds, no one suspects the fake ones."

I don't wear diamonds and am not someone who cares much about status fashion, but, the point is that there's a time to invest in fashion and time to be playful with fashion.

I think about this often with my own style. Obviously wearing sustainable fashion is like, super important to me, but it isn't practical for me to buy new sustainable everything every time I go shopping. And since fast fashion is not an option I am willing to explore, I often end up going the second hand or swap routes when it’s time to add to my wardrobe. I've found some real treasures in my pre-loved adventures but certain things can be tricky - like shoes. I've had a lot of trouble finding vegan shoes that are the right size and fit and style on the second hand market, so, in the spirit of my grandmother, now I spend more on shoes and less on other areas of my wardrobe. This means swapping and thrifting for many things, and saving and splurging on shoes that I know won't hurt people, animals, or the planet.... or my feet.

But just in case you thought this means I have to sacrifice my style and roam around in ill-fitting, unattractive cast-offs to afford my (beautiful) shoe collection, this week I'm sharing some of the benefits of pre-loved shopping, along with some second hand looks directly from my own closet that I think perfectly compliment my designer Bhava Shoes

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create your style

One of the things I love most about thrifting and swapping is that you get the opportunity to try things that have nothing to do with trends and rules, and find what you actually like. It allows for a lot of creativity and individuality. Second hand shopping is the perfect place to experiment with things outside your comfort zone, or even outside your usual style or size. This sweater is three sizes above what I normally wear, but since it was the only organic cotton option available I decided to try it - and now it's my favorite sweater ever.

Sweater: second hand
Pants: swap
Vegan Shoes: Dita by Bhava Shoes

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learn to personalize

The secret to impeccable style is alterations, either professionally or by getting handy with a sewing machine. (Trust me, it's what all the celebrities do)

Online shopping can be tricky when it comes to sizing, especially with second hand. While these jeans were labeled as the size I usually wear they turned out to be a bit big in the waistline. However, I liked everything else about them so I just had them taken in. Even with the cost of alterations it was still much less expensive than a pair of quality new jeans (and much more sustainable, too! Denim is a dirty industry).

Blouse, Vest, Jeans, Scarf: second hand
Vegan Boots: Ranger Hiker by Bhava Shoes

Second-hand stuff leaves you more open to whatever your own personal style is rather than feeling dictated to by shops.
— Sophie Ellis-Bextor
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There's enough unwanted clothing in America for every single person to only wear second hand. So, second hand fashion is an incredibly sustainable way to shop, but maybe that's not always enough to meet your own personal sustainability requirements. Luckily, you can still find what you're looking for, especially online. Most online shops have search options where you can look for ethical brands that you know you love or certain fibers that are important to you. I found this organic tee, vegan blazer, and Made in Los Angeles jeans all from online second hand shops!

Tee, Blazer, Jeans: second hand
Belt, Jewelry: swap
Vegan Boots: Blondie Bootie by Bhava Shoes

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build a designer wardrobe

I know that second hand tends to (unfairly) have a less-than-glamorous connotation, but a lot of amazing stuff ends up in pre-loved shops. I found this designer jacket online and it's in perfect condition, fits beautifully, and was a fraction of the original price. Just remember, if you have enough real designer pieces...

Dress, Belt: swap
Jacket: second hand
Vegan Boots: Editor Boot by Bhava Shoes


Some of my favorite online second hand shops:

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connection through stories

I love storytelling, and second hand fashion is like magical fashion that always comes with a story. While often we may not actually know what the story is, when you do a swap with friends it's easy to find out the history of a garment. And when the piece no longer fits your body or lifestyle, you can pass it along to someone else to continue on the story!

Top: swap
Jacket: swap
Jeans: second hand
Vegan Boots: Sylvia Bootie by Bhava Shoes



I only work with brands who I genuinely believe in, and was gifted the shoes in this story. All opinions are my own. I may sometimes (but not always) use affiliate links in my blog when talking about products or services that I truly suggest, which means that I may get a small commission if you end up buying or trying something through a link I share. This is one of the ways that I continue to fund the stories and programs that Bead & Reel creates and supports.