Day 1 of Secondhand Style: Wearing Clothes Dropped Off in Garbage Bags

Day 1 of Secondhand Style: Wearing Clothes Dropped Off in Garbage Bags

Day one of Alden's Grist dareLast week, LearnVest Editorial Assistant Alden Wicker took a challenge on behalf of the environmental news blog Grist. This is her first entry in the series, which was called, "Grist dared me to make a change." Check back every day this week to see how she did!

For one week, I'm going to wear nothing but clothing and accessories that I can rustle up from thrift stores like Salvation Army and Goodwill. That includes clothing, shoes, belts, hats, and purses. It does not include underwear. I draw the line.

The challenge will explore whether one can dress fashionably from the thrift store. Not only would it be cheaper than getting everything new, it is also more green!

But I'm pretty nervous about how I will do. There are a lot of hipsters here in New York City who wouldn't bat an eye at crazy, ironic combinations. But me, I like to stick with the classics. I am an East Coast girl who likes her black cropped pants and ballet flats. I'm a coward when it comes to edgy combinations. Also, I'm short, so creative, weirdly shaped items don't work on my frame.

Shopping At Goodwill

Going into this challenge, I thought my first shopping trip would be an all-day affair. I was pretty sure I would have to go to at least three different stores to find seven wearable outfits. But I hoped I would up my chances by checking out the new Goodwill in New York City's Greenwich Village.

When this first-ever curated Goodwill opened at the end of April, it got a huge amount of play in the local fashion blogs, accompanied by an enticing picture of a rainbow of assorted Keds. The PR copy promised "Ferragamo, Burberry and Dior, as well as brands such as Anne Taylor, Mossimo and Nine West, all at super reasonable price-points."

When my friend Casidhe met me there, I was already knee-deep in dresses, none of them designer brands. I'm sure this place has been thoroughly picked over already by the downtown hipsters, leaving behind the usual "Holy-crap-what-on-earth-is-that" leopard-print hoochie dresses. In short, this is still a Goodwill, not a high-end consignment boutique. But it's much larger than the Upper West Side branch where I usually drop off my old duds, and I found that with some thorough scouring, the racks would yield up some not-so-bad finds.

Take for example the dress I'm wearing today. It's a perfectly chic Club Monaco sweater dress for the price of a Forever21 top. It just needed a black tank to wear underneath, which is the kind of foundation piece I thought I would never find. Score! I'm going out to dinner tonight with my boyfriend, so this hot little number fits the bill nicely.

Even Casidhe, who was just there for moral support, tried on a nice blouse and told me that she wanted to come back on a day when she had a little bit more energy and do some serious shopping.

What About Accessories?

On the purse and shoes: These seemed to be the hardest items to find. I'm guessing that's because you never grow out of shoes and purses, or realize that they make you look fat. This purse looks pretty good from far away, though it would be better with a longer chain. And the shoes are great. I'm just worried that if they aren't comfortable, I'm going to have a very painful week, as they are one pair out of only two I found that are fit for public consumption. (Those Keds are long gone.) Any tips for finding shoes and purses, and — while I'm on the subject of accessories — jewelry?

Stay tuned tomorrow, and I'll tell you more strategies and challenges I discovered for shopping at Goodwill, gauge the reactions of my coworkers and friends, and reveal my next outfit.

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