COLUMN: Whose story is your outfit?


BP Graphic by Ezra Helfand, BP Photo by Ella Hoenig

CREATIVITY: For Zoe, wearing thrift-shopped clothes showcases her authentic self.

Over the last four years, I’ve mastered the art of second-hand shopping. As a fashion lover, learning that clothing production is the third-biggest factor contributing to climate change was calamitous for me. I could no longer justify supporting the corrupt fast fashion industry, so I took my business elsewhere. 

The first time I walked into a thrift store, I was overwhelmed. I didn’t yet understand the beauty of the search, the euphoria attached to finding a vintage patchwork grandma sweater. Thrifting is an art form and it certainly has a learning curve, requiring meticulous strategy. As I gradually honed my craft, this hobby that began with hopes of maintaining a more sustainable lifestyle became a source of pleasure. 

Thrifting is an art form and it certainly has a learning curve, requiring meticulous strategy.

There are other benefits as well! In a school where dress code can often unintentionally stifle individuality, a thrifted, vintage, one-of-a-kind piece of clothing has the ability to expand the bounds of self-expression far beyond what you’d imagine. I’m no longer limited to the current trends in retail stores, but rather have access to a far more eclectic selection. As I learned from the wise Phoebe Buffay, purchases with stories behind them are far more interesting.

Since beginning to shop secondhand, my closet has become an accurate representation of the creativity I wish to express, and which in turn expresses my true sense of self. The time spent picking out clothes to wear to school is no longer a bother, but rather an artistic practice that allows me to take on the day head-on. I begin my day knowing my outfit is responsible for the retelling of someone else’s story, while allowing me to add my own chapter.