A vintage storefront featuring 40's style of dresses

There’s a lot of heaviness in the world right now and it can feel overwhelming and endless.

When I came across this article over the weekend, it sparked some fond memories so bear with me as I redirect my thoughts and share a little about fashion.

As far back as the mid 80’s, I’ve been a thrift store regular. Nearly all my clothes come from consignment or the Sally Ann (aka Salvation Army). I mostly have my mother to thank for this approach to fashion. A local leader in thrifty shopping, she produced (she’s also an amazing needleworker) lovely cloth bound books with lists of the best shops in Calgary to find gloriously well-made clothes for professionals. She showed me the value in a beautiful wool coat from the 70’s, lined pencil skirts, and supple silk scarves. We used to spend hours in far flung thrift shops, scouring for deals. Some of my fondest memories involve thrifting with her and when I moved to Vancouver, one of our first outings was to Value Village.

In the early days of the pandemic, riddled with anxiety, I fell into a retail therapy trance online and ordered some new blouses from a major retailer for Zoom meetings. Weeks later, they arrived. When I opened the package, the flimsy fabric and shoddy seams almost gave way as I ran my hands across the buttons. The fit was way off. Rather than sparking a feeling of smart confidence, these shirts felt like an afterthought. I folded them carefully back up in the package, put on my mask, and walked to the post office to return them. Lesson learned.

The truth is I have plenty of great clothes. And besides, if lockdown has taught me anything, it’s not what you wear but what you know. So this campaign from Oxfam is amazing.

It comes at a time when we’re taught to believe now is the time to descend on the mall for new sweaters and pants and dresses and shoes and whatever else we think we need. It really isn’t. As much as I feel bad for smaller shops, the bloated dominance of most retailers in malls isn’t sustainable. On the rare times I do shop new, I frequent Branches and Knots, a lovely little shop here in Kitsilano with realistically designed clothes that don’t require a line of credit.

But I digress. The premise of this article is to pledge to only buy that which already exists. I’m already a huge fan of Michaela Coel (I binged Chewing Gum on CBC Gem) and now I can fangirl even more. If you’re feeling pressure to spend money at a time of so much uncertainty, please know you’re not alone and take a note from Michaela. There’s so many great reasons not to shop fast fashion and instead, find something one of a kind that won’t set you back in your budget.

I’m fortunate and grateful to have everything I need so won’t be buying anything new in September. Maybe in October, if it’s safe, I’ll take my Mom for lunch and some retail therapy at Turnabout.

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