Kingdom Thrifting

Is it weird to speak of thrifting in a spiritual way?

It’s become more popular in the last few years with hipster trends rising at alarming rates, but beyond jumping on the bandwagon just because it’s fun, thrifting has spiritual significance as well. Here’s how.

Shirt - silk from Banana Republic, $2. Wool cardigan - also $2. This may not be the most attractive face, but this picture was taken in Scotland, so the coolness makes up for it.

Shirt – silk from Banana Republic, $2. Wool cardigan – also $2. This may not be the most attractive face, but this picture was taken in Scotland, so the coolness makes up for it.

1) It’s good stewardship of your money. I can buy a pair of Guess jeans at Guess for $100, or I can buy them at a thrift store for $5, and theoretically give the other $95 to someone who needs clothes more than I do. In a culture that demands a different sensational look every day, we can easily spend thousands of dollars building a trendy wardrobe. OR we can go thrifting and afford to experiment, mix and match, and just maybe fall in love with a timeless ugly sweater that we’ll still be cuddling with when we’re 90. Like this one. —>

2. The money goes to a good cause. Most thrift stores are nonprofit and support a variety of causes, from homelessness to domestic violence to pet shelters to overseas missions. Don’t advertise for Abercrombie and thereby advertise elitism and discrimination; advertise for a cause you believe in. Let your wardrobe declare that you are an advocate for justice.  Your money becomes about so much more than your own appearance. Plus, as I said, it gives you a chance to experiment. You decide that the new shirt doesn’t really match your style? Put it back in the donation bin and rejoice that your ‘wasted’ money fed a starving child.

3. It does not perpetuate slave labor. As Brett Dennen sings, “Slavery is stitched into the fabric of my clothes.” Slavery didn’t end with the Emancipation Proclamation. We in America, the top 1% in the world who think we need more, more, more, keep slavery alive with our demand for low prices, with blood diamonds and the latest technology and clothes made by suffering people in India and Bangladesh and Pakistan. Our self-indulgence is oppression to others. Yes, the clothes you buy in thrift stores were probably originally made by slave labor when they were purchased new, but buying second-hand clothing removes you from the market of supply and demand. The more clothes we buy new in stores, the more the stores will order in bulk, and the more labor is required to meet the demands of the consumers. Especially as clothes are made more cheaply and wear out sooner, and as demand becomes greater for an updated wardrobe each season, there is far more clothing being produced than there needs to be. You can simply take yourself out of the equation by choosing to shop second-hand.

And if you think you can’t live without the latest styles, think about it as a creative spiritual discipline and give it a try. After all… “Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58:6).

This fall, I chose to update my wardrobe from thrift stores — and for $25, I got a total of 9 shirts (2 with the tags still on), a pair of nude pumps in perfect condition, and a nice pair of boots. The pictures below depict a few of these outfits, but if you don’t like the hipster/ugly sweater style, don’t worry, that’s not all that thrift stores have. In the past I have purchased Guess, Banana Republic, Express, BCBG, Free People, J. Crew, etc. However, I would encourage you to try on something ugly that you normally wouldn’t. You might be surprised how cute it can be when paired with leggings and boots.

What my roommate affectionately calls "the tablecloth shirt." Just a basic lightweight buttondown -- pair it with any color tank top and coordinating scarf. I also got a very similar linen one originally from Gap -- each for $1.25.

What my roommate affectionately calls “the tablecloth shirt.” Just a basic lightweight buttondown — pair it with any color tank top and coordinating scarf. I also got a very similar linen one originally from Gap — each for $1.25.

$1 -- cotton and rayon blend buttondown, perfect for fall. It looked a bit old-ladyish on the rack, but once I put it on with a pair of dark brown leggings and tan boots, I got more compliments on it than my new Express sweater.

$1 — cotton and rayon blend buttondown, perfect for fall. It looked a bit old-ladyish on the rack, but once I put it on with a pair of dark brown leggings and tan boots, I got more compliments on it than my new Express sweater. Go figure.

Okay, I can't pull off the serious face tree pose. But nothing says fall like cuddling up with a soft ugly sweater and scarf.

Okay, I can’t pull off the serious face tree pose. But nothing says fall like cuddling up with this soft ugly sweater, leggings, and a scarf.

Tan 3/4 length sleeve shirt for $1? Basic? Perhaps, but also very soft and very versatile.

Tan 3/4 length sleeve shirt for $1? Basic? Perhaps, but also very soft and very versatile.

So add a pair of $2 boots...

So add skinny jeans and a pair of $2 boots…

...and you've got a pretty cute fall outfit.

…and you’ve got a pretty cute fall outfit. Thanks to Julia Elliott Photography for this collection of pictures.

Also this dress was $2 (Free People).

Also this dress was $2 (Free People).

And this one.

And this one.

And many others as well. So go visit your local thrift store as the cold weather approaches. Spend less, give more, and take a stand against a consumerist culture. UGLY SWEATERS FOR EVERYONE!!

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Published in: on October 17, 2013 at 11:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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  1. I am totally obsessed with thrifting and have been doing so for quite some time. I hardly ever buy anything new anymore, what I do buy new is inexpensive pieces like accessories that are on trend….Most times though, I get just about anything and everything from the Goodwill. Not once have I looked out of style, all my clothing, the biggest majority of it at least, is name brand and if you didn’t know about my obsession with thrifting, you would more than likely think that I throw down major cash at the mall. Just like you too, I love that my money is supporting my community and people that need help. Plus, you can score a ton of things for very little money. All you need is to make sure you try things on for fit, examine clothing for imperfections, and have an eye for fashion! It’s absolutely my favorite thing to do!


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