365 Days of Thrift Turns One!

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Photo by: Greg Thomason  Dress: $4 Goodwill blouse that I upcycled into the cutest…

I don’t think I ever told this story but it’s a vital one… A little over a year ago, I was shopping at my neighborhood Goodwill (obvi).  A sweet woman and her daughter were in the dressing room area with me, and every time I would come out of the dressing room this woman would go off (in the best way) about how much she loved my outfits.  When I say, “go off” I mean I would come out to hearing, “girl, you are working that belt!” and other such incredible style cheerleading.  This human interaction is one of the reasons I have always loved thrifting.  There is a certain sense of community when you go thrifting- this sort of instant family of thrifters and bargain hunters of diverse backgrounds and socio-economic status, all helping each other make decisions and often saying things like, “this didn’t fit me- but I bet it would look great on you…”  This woman asked me if I was in fashion and I mentioned my clothing line of upcycled clothing and my sometimes style posts on Instagram and my then art blog: The Queen Has Wings.  “If you had a blog I’d follow it.” She said.  And as I went home that day with 3 bags (approx 30 items that I purchased for around $100)  it struck me that not only did I have enough pieces from just this one shopping trip alone- to create a years worth of content- but that creating a blog based on thrifting would be an incredibly fun and worthwhile endeavor.

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Literally the very first picture I ever took for the blog (I was going to do a blog about- what to wear when you go thrifting, lol)  I never used it- since it’s somewhat terrible-  but I love it all the same.

I discovered the power of style about 5 years ago when I launched my upcycled clothing line: Monarch Couture.  I posted a poor quality photo of a half made dress on Facebook and people went crazy.  People related to fashion in a way that I had never before seen.  They were drawn to it, it was engaging, it was relatable.  It was at that time that I discovered the power of aesthetics and style to carry forward a pro survival message with ease and I realized that this was a platform worth investing in.  I always laugh at myself because- as style “obsessed” as I am- to me it’s always been simply a fun game to play.  There is a magic in having fun with style and clothing that can add beauty to a world that sometimes appears to be falling apart at the seams.  But I have never considered myself to be a classic “blogger” type. To be honest I have become more and more of a minimalist over the past year.  I’m very spiritual- and operate on the concept that you are not your body- it’s just the “car you drive” for the game of life- which if you think about it- makes fashion sort of frivolous and silly.  I care far more about issues like human rights, helping others, improving the environment, and factually changing the world than I do about hair, make-up and fashion.  I’ve just always felt that if you are going to rage against the world and change the status quo- you might as well do it in style.  And truth be told- times in my life when I have been met with the uglier  and more negative aspects of mankind, knowing that I presented a forward vanguard of style, creativity and elegance- allowed me to walk away with my head held a bit higher.

So enter: 365 Days of Thrift- an opportunity for me to weave together all of my creative skills and my lifelong love of style.  And also- as I have told my mom on the phone many times-  a way for me to encourage others to gently take responsibility for the environment and the world around them in a way that is fun and achievable. Perhaps not everyone has their life set up to afford the time to go out and volunteer for hours and hours (although I highly recommend it) but each one of us can, in our own small way engage in activities that create a world that is more peaceful, beautiful and alive.

This “little blog about thrifting” has brought me more opportunities this year that I ever would have imagined.  My role as an Ambassador for Goodwill has been such a joy.  I have really had the opportunity to get behind the scenes and learn so much about their mission- something I believe in whole heartedly and am very proud to support.  I have been a frequent guest on Talk of the Town– which has got to be the friendliest news show around. I have pushed myself creatively and discovered unique ways to express myself.  More than anything I have just been blown away by how much people enjoy checking in and the bottom line is that I’m just having so much fun.

So what have I learned…

*Blogging is a challenge- it takes planning and persistence. There is a LOT to teach yourself about shooting, editing, and the technical aspects of blogging.  Sometimes a project you thought would take 2 hours, takes all day. Sometimes you are busy.  Sometimes life happens.  Sometimes the world happens.  Sometimes you are completely un-inspired on the subject of writing.  Sometimes you are going to miss every single # day that instagram tries to shove down your throat (and that is beyond okay- your life should not be governed by what is trending on social media)

*I have become extremely good at Self Portraits- for those of you who don’t know, unless otherwise stated, all of the photos on the blog are self portraits taken with my iPhone 6 using a cheap little $12 tripod that I purchased off of Amazon and edited on my iPhone with either VSCO Cam or A Color Story.  Although I do turn out a lot of your standard commercial looking “blogger” fare- I do have opportunities to get more creative and find that self portraiture is a fabulous art form that I’m excited to expand with more high quality equipment.

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Recent Self portrait from my upcoming Thanksgiving dress makeover

*I know about a lot of cool secret and not so secret walls and spots in Nashville. I actually have a very busy life- so blog shoots are often done on the way from one thing to another- while I drive around with my eyes peeled for locations.

*Don’t live your life on the internet. If a tree falls in the forest and you didn’t snap chat it-  it’s totally okay- you are still a valuable person with a beating heart and we love you.

*You really can thrift everything but you undies.  In fact- due to the fact that I thrift exclusively- I have a wardrobe that is higher value, higher quality  and about 1/10th the cost of fast fashion.

Did I cheat?

Time for my confession… I did, only twice and it just re-enforces the fact that thrifting is boss.

about 6 months in I purchased 4 pairs of work out pants at the arch enemy: Walmart ( I was there to buy thread for my sewing machine and I got sucked into the vortex.) I was captivated by the $5 price tag and the bright exciting colors.  1 pair was marked a size M and actually seemed like they should fit a 4 year old.  I didn’t discover this till I brought them home to try them on, and returning them for $5 just seemed like a waste of time.  another pair ripped in the crotch the second I put them on- and the other two just felt weird- the fabric was uber synthetic and creepy and.. (this is TMI) since they are ultra-sythetic-chemical laden fabrics, they just smell bad really fast.

Also- in October I was in Chicago for my good friend’s wedding and had a few hours to kill before hotel check in so I wandered into arch nemesis #2: Forever 21 and was approved for a card (oh man).  I bought 2 pairs of high waisted pants, a sweatshirt and some overalls.  To be fair- its all cute AF- but it’s only 1 month in and although my high waisted pants are perfectly on trend-  they are already starting to lose their shape and I can tell they probably won’t last me through the year.  I would have certainly been far more intelligent to find higher quality items by thrifting and remodifying.

So I have learned- that without a doubt- fast fashion is fast, unlasting and throw away. You cheat yourself just as much as you cheat the environment.  So I won’t be making this mistake going forward.

I have really been on a path of becoming very minimal and eco friendly with my life, health and beauty, so I’m looking forward to sharing more of that moving forward.

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Let your environmental impact be soft and your actions be significant and meaningful

Ultimately I have learned that it really is possible to have so much without spending copious amounts of money or becoming caught up of in all of the consumerist “supposed tos.”  You will have what you create- and your ability to create- across any sphere, is factually infinite.   Do not underestimate the power of infusing the world around you with beauty- it is a worthwhile endeavor.

Thank you all for following me this far.

Love and Thrift,

Elisabeth

 


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