The summer of no new shopping

Thrift Store Sign

The other day, Matt and I were taking a walk around DC when he spotted a Dress Barn. He pointed it out to me, but I didn’t feel very enthused about it. I have nothing against Dress Barn, and even bought a very lovely purple dress for a wedding at a Dress Barn outlet store. It’s just… every time I go into a retail shop lately, I have a difficult time finding something that fits me nicely.

This train of thought led me to an idea: a swearing off of shopping for new retail, mass-produced clothing. For the months of May, June, and July, with August acting like a sort of grace period before the start of fall, I will adhere to the following chain of command:

  1. Make or craft it myself. New purchases, like yarn or fabric, are acceptable.
  2. Find it at a thrift shop. Ebay and Etsy count, as do local clothing swaps.
  3. Commission a custom piece, like a made-to-fit shirt from an independent Etsy shop.

The above rules not only include clothing, but also accessories, jewelry, and bags. Certain items are excluded, like socks, bras, and underpants. Shoes are tricky, as I really would like another pair of new, comfortable walking shoes.

While I have traditionally found it difficult to snag good-fitting items at the thrift shop, I’m hoping to put my new sewing skills to the test. I’ve often hesitated to make alterations to items bought new for $60, but perhaps I wouldn’t feel so terrible about fixing up a $5 Goodwill dress.

I am allowing myself three passes, because sometimes things come up! I had a weird thought I would be invited to some formal affair, and would have no summer outfit waiting in my closet for it. In that case, if none of the above benefit me, I’ve got three times to call an out.

With this experiment, I’m hoping to learn more about working with my body’s shape and size to find more clothing I feel comfortable in and comfortable wearing. I want to gain more confidence in my sewing, and finally pull out that shirt pattern that’s been sitting on my table, intimidating and taunting me for weeks. There’s creativity to be had!

I know there are other bloggers who’ve written about similar experiences and experiments. Have you ever put a limit on your spending? What are your preferred methods of clothes shopping? Do you enjoy hacking stuff to make it fit?

Photo credit: “Thrift Store Sign” from S Jones

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4 thoughts on “The summer of no new shopping

  1. I know exactly what you mean about feeling more at ease with altering a thrift store item than something that cost a heck of a lot more. If the idea doesn’t go so well, then you spent less money and I personally feel like I wasted less that way.

    I love buying most of my clothes from thrift stores. This is partly because I tend to not have much spare money on hand and have never paid that much attention to fashion and styles (and I also see little point in paying $25 for a t-shirt when I can get a similar one for $5 elsewhere), and partly because like the freedom to experiment with alterations sometimes. Especially with embroidery. I love to take plain items like single-colour shirts or pants and skirts and add some custom embroidery designs to them.

  2. I’m loving making my own clothes. I am learning a ton, and everything fits! And, I have way more choices in fabric/styles. The only problem is I had to set myself a new fabric budget… that stuff is addictive!

  3. Mia says:

    A dress sat in my closet for nearly a year for the exact reason you mentioned above–I bought it on eBay, yes, for a significant discount, but it was still $80 and I was sooooo scared that I would permanently ruin it by trying to make it fit better in the torso. (Which I finally did last month, to much applause from myself.) On the other hand, a $3 skirt from Goodwill that had a terrible non-fitting lining got hacked up pretty much as soon as I came home from thrifting, and I wore it three days later. Go figure.

    This is an awesome challenge you’re giving yourself–especially in regards to making your own clothes–and I’m looking forward to seeing how it proceeds.

  4. I’m not sure what I put in Google to find your blog, but I’m glad I did. I really like, and APPRECIATE, your personal style. It’s so hard to come across ‘plus size’ style blogs where the blogger isn’t some magazine-worshipping, skin-tight-EVERYTHING trend follower. It always makes me wonder if I am the crazy one for not blogging about skinny jeans and bodycon miniskirts and platforms. So when I chance across blogs like yours, where people dress like they are going to work, and not Adams Morgan on Saturday night, I feel so relieved!

    I love your style, your honesty, and just your entire blog. I’ll be watching it!

    I’m also in DC — ugh, what’s up with the weather lately?

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