One Way to Shop to Create an Eco-Friendly, Stylish and Budget-Conscious Wardrobe

August 7, 2015

Last night I rewatched the shocking and heart-wrenching documentary, ‘The True Cost‘. It records the story of what is behind the fashion industry and what we are doing to our planet and people because of our obsession with fashion, our demand for cheaper clothes and our tendency to see our wardrobe as disposable.

As stated in the film, the world consumes 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year which is 400% more than we did just two decades ago. The ‘Fast Fashion’ industry has exploded and the repercussions to both the environment and human life are devastating. Of course, it is impossible to fully see and experience all that when you are shopping. The backstory is conveniently hidden from the racks and shelves at the stores, but this documentary doesn’t miss a thing. I bought the DVD to support the company and also so I can watch it several times.

This does not mean you have to stop buying clothes or only buy what is considered eco-friendly (most of us over 25 wouldn’t be able to get dressed if that were the case since the eco-friendly market (like all of the fashion industry) is driven by or created for those who are very young). It does mean that we have a responsibility to others and our planet to be as mindful as possible in our choices. This doesn’t always feel easy, however, which is why I recently shared my 3-part series ‘Eco-friendly Wardrobe Secrets You Never Knew.’ Here is the link to Part 1.

Viewing ‘The True Cost’ documentary inspired me to share one of my very favorite ways to shop and make a difference. Consignment shopping is like a special treasure hunt—a way to find unusual items at a fraction of the cost—all pre-owned so no new materials were used to create them. While you can go to a brick and mortar consignment store, you will also find online consignment stores and some who have both. Here are several ideas:

My two favorite jackets are Armani jackets and I got them at The Turnabout Shoppe in Wellesley, MA. They also have a very active online store. Here is an example of an Armani jacket at an amazing price ($105) – instead of the more usual $1,000:

Here I am with my dear friend, Elaine who is also (with her husband) owner of the Turnabout Shoppe. I am wearing one of the Armani jackets I got last year at her store for about $250—easily a $1,000 jacket. And, Elaine is wearing an amazing Carmen Marc Valvo jacket from her store – I found it while I was looking and suggested she put it on – isn’t it perfect with what she is wearing! It still had the original tag on it ($450) and they had it priced for $220—and with their big summer sale (through August 15), it would be much less!

One of my clients has had great luck at The RealReal. This stunning Diane von Furstenberg red dress is from there and it’s only $75

In addition, I found this Stella McCartney handbag on The RealReal. I HAVE this bag. I got mine at the Turnabout Shoppe several years ago and I still use it every winter. It’s amazing. It still looks as good as the day I got it and it has seen lots of use. Mine still had the original price tag of $895 on it so it’s a super big bargain at The RealReal since they think the original price was $695. This bag is black with bronze so it goes with everything! And, the other benefit of this handbag is that it weighs almost nothing when it is empty!

You can get it here for $195! And, they have the same Stella McCartney ‘Polly’ bag in several colors on the site.

Try this fun Express tunic for $11.99 from ThredUp.

Their selection runs the gamut. Here’s an Armani blazer (originally priced at $1,245 and sold here for $238).

ThredUp also carries plus size, petites and maternity clothes. Here is an example of a pretty summer plus size dress for $20.99

ThredUp offers free shipping (over $70) and free returns!

There are also online stores that let you list your items and sell them. They take a small percentage, but it eliminates the middleman. When you sell an item on, the site will send out a pre-paid envelope with which to mail the item, so you do not have to worry about shipping costs.

ThreadFlip is another such store although much higher end. If you feel inspired to sell your clothes, this is a great way to make that happen. It means that many fewer things end up in a landfill or at a charity where it floods other economies with our castoffs.

Rebagg is a company that knows its strengths. They focus solely on designer handbags and rather than list your bag on consignment they pay you outright for it. Plain and simple. Check out their site – this link lets them know that you know me:

They have another site where you can purchase the handbags they buy. Check it out. Here’s a beautiful Stella McCartney clutch:

The return policy for most consignment shopping (both in the stores and online) varies significantly from no returns accepted to returns up to 30 days. They have to pay their consignors so it is reasonable that the return policy is limited. Bear that in mind when making your purchase.

If you have found that your clothes are becoming too predictable from going to the same places all the time, consignment shopping can add that extra spice to your experience and your wardrobe!

Most importantly, remember that the number one thing you can do to reduce your fashion footprint is to buy less and wear it more. If you have a closet full of clothes you aren’t wearing, it could be that you need some help figuring out what really works for you and what you love to wear. That is what I help each of my clients do. I would be delighted to talk with you. There is no obligation to do anything – just a time to explore the possibilities to helping you create a streamlined wardrobe that makes you excited to get dressed every morning.

Please note: All garments pictured here (and in the catalogue) are vegan-friendly (made from fabrics that did not harm any animals).

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