If you’re an avid reader of No Kill than you may be aware of ReFashion Week NYC. Hosted by donateNYC and the Sanitation Foundation, it spotlights secondhand and sustainable fashion across New York City. The week is full of events, that focuson teaching attendees how to mend and repair their clothing to avoid throwing it out as well as providing a space for clothing and accessory swaps.
During the week I attended a panel event hosted by Faye De Lanty, an Aussie Salvation Army thrift stylist who recently released her book, Opshopulance: How to make thrift store look like couture and save the planet.
This panel featured Faye along with fabulous thrifters featured in her book. Jess who goes by @The.Thrifted.Gay on Instagram (and was featured in our 3 days/3 ways series), Kaitlin, the creator behind @WindyCityThrifter, and the mastermind Kate who runs @ConvertedCloset and finally, the colorful and true to herself Sabra, @MyStyleIsMyBrand.
Faye De Lanty’s book is about her journey of thrifting as well as sustainability, she says, “I wanted to be a shapeshifter, I wanted to completely change how we see secondhand, how we see the discarded”.
She opened space for the creators who spoke on the panel, to talk about their own journeys in her book as well.
Advice on How To thrift And style secondhand clothes from the experts!
How many plain white t-shirts do you really need? Don’t you already have a pair of jeans in that exact wash and the same silhouette? Figuring out how to combat that problem is Kaitlin’s specialty. Kaitlin spoke first about thrifting with intentions. She shared a bunch of tips but here are my favorites.
Start within your own closet
She says, “I am a true believer in that there is so much untapped potential in what we already own.”
She recommends having a friend come into your closet and let them play around with what you have, as it can help you look outside of what you would normally wear the clothing as. And our tip: using an app can help you see what’s in your closet as well.
Make a budget
Kaitlin says its pretty obvious but for some people, it might not be! Compulsive shopping is a real struggle and especially looking at the prices thrift stores offer us! She recommends bringing in a thrift list while you go shopping so you always have sight of what you’re looking for.
Thrift seasonless pieces
We are biiiiiig (extra I’s for emphasis) fans of layering over here. We’re Brooklyn based and similar to Kaitlin, we know a thing or two about cold weather. Truthfully, anything can be seasonless. A turtleneck can be worn under just about anything and fleece-lined tights are a person’s best friend.
Up next was Sabra and she was just a ray of sunshine. What was different about Sabra was her origin story. I think a lot of people turn to a sustainable lifestyle because of some crazy statistics that they were told. Not Sabra, the thought of saving the planet was one of the last ones to cross her mind. She was drawn to thrifting from the fashionable standpoint, the idea that the thrift stores held some real gems.
Sabra hit home for a few different reasons but the main one was her relatability. She reiterated multiple times that thrift stores are intimidating. I believe that’s something anyone new to the game can agree with. She said it was easy for her to start online thrift stores and then slowly graduate to the real deal. She shared her discovery with attendees that, “what made thrift stores so intimidating was there were no rules, nobody there to tell you, ‘this has to be worn a certain way’ ” That is how Sabra developed her personal style from thrifting.
Kate flew all the way from London to speak and did she have some life-changing advice! She specializes in repairing and redesigning what she has on hand already. She shared stories of her childhood where she struggled with finding clothes that fit the vision in her head and also fit her.
She said, “I found it easier to adapt clothes that I wasn’t paying full price for into what, I thought, looked better on me.” She says this was all going on in her own head and reminded us that it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, as long as you are happy. In doing so, she gained confidence and found joy in wearing whatever she wanted to, she was able to grow her closet from thrifted clothes that still fit her personal style.
Finally, we ended with Jess, the person who welcomed everyone as they walked into the room with a bright smile and familial energy. Jess focused on sharing their favorite tips for an androgynous closet from the thrift store. They began with a story that made us picture Jess back in college with an everyday look of joggers, a sweatshirt, and their hair in a bun. They said they struggled with constantly comparing themselves to other people on campus, always wondering why they couldn’t dress like them. Jess said it wasn’t until they attended an event that exposed them to queer representation, changing the game entirely for them. Jess said they had cleaned out their closet and wanted a fresh start. They say, “I went to the local goodwill and gave myself from grace. I deserve to look in the mirror and love what I see” Words to live by.
Overall, the event reminded me that everyone starts somewhere. You don’t just wake up and become an expert or a master right away, it’s okay to feel intimated or scared when it comes to thrifting but just remember, the purchase of pre-loved clothes gives a small breather to mother earth.
Finally, I want to end by saying I highly recommend Faye’s book! It is full of advice and inspiration and I can’t put it down.
Group photo of panelists and book by Diana Biryuk, individual photos of panelists from Instagram
3 Days, 3 Ways with The Thrifted Gay
Thrift the Runway –Dior Style Inspo
How to Shop Secondhand + Vintage Like An Expert
Our Guide to Avoiding the Landfill
What are YOU doing with your old masks? (from fun DIYs to recycling campaigns)
Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize powered by 52HZ