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.
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 Yes, the clothes you buy in thrift stores were probably originally made by slave labor when they were purchased new, but buying second-hand clothing removes you from the market of supply and demand.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.
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!!