I have a hate-hate relationship with work. I’ve never had a paid job that I loved—I know, I know, no one is entitled to loving their job, but I really struggle with the idea of suffering for a long time in a job that holds no purpose for me beyond a paycheck. Call me a dreamer, or lazy, I don’t really care (That’s not true. I care. I cry about it a lot).
Graduating from college marked the first time I had ever made a long-term commitment that required dedication and sacrifice, and followed through all the way. I graduated from college people!!! Then three days later I started another barista job. While it temporarily felt good to secure immediate employment (no one has that luxury anymore) and there were things I liked about the job (like it being a small, local business, and working with my best friend) it started to grate on me pretty quickly that I was doing the same type of work I had always done to get through college. I was still making minimum wage… and people were still yelling at me about white chocolate (rich, white people really need to get some perspective). I could not do it. I tried and I failed, and as a result I have been (fun)employed for over a year.
What I really, really want for my life is to be able to write and shop. You might think this makes me spoiled. I blame my parents. They told me I was a princess—I believed them. Anyway, writing and shopping. As far as shopping goes, my friend Rachel put it best, “Shopping is my hobby. I am good at it and it brings me joy.” Amen, sister! You might have golf, or needle-point, but for me it’s all about finding my textile soulmate.
Unfortunately I don’t make any money, and shopping usually costs money. Time to get creative! I have to preface what I am about to say with this disclaimer: NOT ALL THINGS CAN BE BOUGHT CHEAP! It’s just true and you need to accept it now. Sometimes you have to save up and shell out the cash for the right thing. BUT I supplement a large portion of my wardrobe with items found in these three places:
Buy Nothing: Buy Nothing is a self-proclaimed network of “hyper local gift economies” that seek to combat waste and consumerism while building community. Lofty. Basically you join the Facebook group that corresponds with your neighborhood and you give away the stuff you would normally sell or take to Goodwill. Other people do the same and you request that their items be given to you. Sometimes you ask for specific things and people see if they have what you need. When it is working, like it does in my community, you get/give some pretty great items.
The Bins: The Bins is the Goodwill Outlet’s nickname. It is a warehouse filled with rows upon rows of “bins” piled high with regular-Goodwill rejects. I was afraid of shopping here for a long time. It took a seasoned friend to teach me that the Bins are an awesome adventure. It can be dirty. I have heard horror stories. But overall, my experience digging through the chaff for a few sprigs of wheat has been pleasant. And I have found the wheat!!! My personal goal is to find Free People in the bins (which I do). If I find Free People (or J Crew, there is tons of J Crew) I feel I have won the lottery.
Buy/Sell/Trade: Unlike the Podunk consignment stores of my mom’s underprivileged youth, I have access to a few really awesome Buy/Sell/Trade shops within a few miles of me. I am no professional picker so I don’t tend to make very much money selling but sometimes I get a little bit of store credit bringing in items I no longer love, and I always find something to take home. Local spots like Urban Xchange and the new Scorpio Rising are full of carefully curated vintage and used pieces that actually work. I don’t have to be SOOOO creative when I shop here and there are always great labels that I love (Free People!), and occasionally some designer! This is where I find a lot of statement pieces.
Having nice clothes on a tight budget is hard. It feels wrong to want things that are expensive—somehow superficial and like my priorities are skewed—but this is what I care about and if I can find a responsible way pursue it I see no harm. These options make me feel good about not buying cheaply made new stuff, reusing what might otherwise have contributed to a landfill, and (stylishly!) living within my means (which makes my husband like me).