Recycling, Upcycling, Vintage?

by Guest Writer

Ask any of my friends and they will tell you I adore vintage clothing, antiques, furniture…the list goes on. I moved from Indiana to NYC after college to start my architecture career. I remember watching Sex and the City with delusions of buying a pair of Manolo Blahniks with my first paycheck. Ha! I could barely afford to pay rent, let alone $500 shoes. I had no money and so badly wanted to dress as fabulous as the other New Yorkers. I soon realized, worse than not being able to afford the clothes I wanted was being dressed alike a stranger on the subway or at a concert—this lead to my fascination in collecting vintage, reused and upcycled clothing. Eventually, as I built up my expertise in the arena of vintage shopping, I started a blog called Exquisitus to showcase my endeavors. Since starting my blog, I have had an epiphany—my wardrobe of reused clothing is very sustainable! I am diverting fabulous clothing from landfills. Much of the time, I am also avoiding purchasing clothing from companies whose process for harvesting raw supplies, making and shipping are not exactly eco-friendly.

Whether seeking out shoes, accessories, purses, dresses, coats or pants, with a little patience you can find exactly what you’re looking for that someone else has discarded. These items can be passed down from generation to generation, swapped, bid on, revamped, found at rummage sales, stores and markets. We all know the saying “One person’s junk is another person’s treasure.”

Fashion trends typically come back around in cycles. Right now we are seeing a revival of fashion from the 90’s. What better way to be eco and original than to find something vintage? This is also the reason why I have a bad habit of never throwing out clothes and accessories because I know they will come back in style or someday I will be able to revamp them.

Recycling is defined as converting waste into reusable material. Buying clothes that might otherwise been pitched into the garbage, finding a fun/creative ways to wear and give them new life and a new home is very eco-conscious. I am not the only one recycling fashion these days as it seems to be quite a trend. There is one blog in particular, New Dress a Day, where the blogger revamps a vintage dress every day and turns it into something new, useful and beautiful. Upcycling is a lot like recycling except that you are converting clothing into completely new designs of better quality. if you don’t have time to upcycle your own clothes, check out Zachary’s Smile and Uluru who revamp vintage clothing and sell them in retail stores.

Other people have taken recycling fashion in another direction by doing “frock swaps”. A frock swap is an event where a community of women swap clothing. Clothes that women no longer want are brought to a specified location and traded. Whatever is not selected gets sent to the local thrift shop. Swapping is a great way to get a new wardrobe, be green and thrifty. Punky Style is a blogger that has a lot of great information about swapping clothes.

This discussion would never be complete if I didn’t mention checking out your local Goodwill or Salvation Army for recycled fashion. In my opinion, there is no reason to ever be throwing clothes in the garbage. Do the environment—and me—a huge favor and drop it off at your local thrift shop. Drop off a bag of clothes and go searching for more treasures. You can even make money off recycling your fashion at consignment/thrift shops like Buffalo Exchange and Tokio 7. Vintage, reused and upcycled clothing is not for everyone but as you can see from my blog you can find some amazing clothes, at a great price and the best part is that it’s one more small change you can make to help the planet.

There are a lot of places to find vintage clothing but that my darlings is for another post! So the next time you think “I won’t wear that dress”…think again! Email me and maybe I can come up with some creative ideas to how to recycle and revamp your garments!

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