Why I started buying secondhand
Author: Anna Kate from AK Wears things.
From the beginning, fashion has been more to me than just a way to get dressed. It’s the best way for me to express myself to the world.
Having grown up glued to fashion magazines and cheesy 90s rom-coms, my understanding of quality style was built around labels like Calvin Klein and Coach and my taste developed from my 90s upbringing of choker necklaces, “iced” hair and wide leg jeans (anyone remember Levi pipes!?) This, coupled with my always-unconventional music taste, created a weird little green-haired oddball wannabe “rockstar” high school girl who wore both “popular” labels and emo fashion—all thrifted, of course. The kids in my grade totally didn’t get me #ugh
Thrift shopping allowed me to flow fluidly through these two polar opposite states, combining Hollister with Hot Topic (?) for half the price and none of the self-consciousness. I was able to play with my style and discover myself, and when I went to college and was strapped for cash, I was able to turn it into a lucrative Instagram store which helped cover a few art classes.
However, this passion began to shift when I entered The Real World and got A Real Job with A Real Paycheck. I found my ever evolving sense of style remained but instead of thrifting I turned to fast fashion. It was so easy to get exactly the look I was wanting by buying a full outfit at H&M, even though the impact on my wallet wasn’t the same. Despite knowing fast fashion was wrong, I was able to justify my habit by donating the clothes that invariably fell apart or I lost interest in (or so I thought). This habit increased dramatically after my breast reduction surgery in 2016, giving me more accessibility clothes that I wasn’t able to fit into before. I remember losing sight of that personal style I began to cultivate in high school and instead just tried to “look like everyone else” (whatever that means). I can’t even remember all of the clothes I’ve bought and donated... and some I’ve just lost entirely!
A huge career shift in the beginning of 2019 caused me to reflect a lot more on my impulsive shopping habits and overall mental wellness because of them. I realized I was broke, bored and burnout on buying fast fashion to help discover “my style”. I had battled a lot of personal anxiety and image issues the year before (shoutout to my therapist) and felt ready to just fall headfirst into wearing what made me happy. I started my account @akwearsthings and the #April10x10 challenge at the end of March as a way to distract myself from the time I would have previously spent strolling through the mall alone. And guess what—it worked!
Purchasing a clothing rack that I put in my bedroom that I was able to pull my capsule collection favorites for that week out of my dimly lit closet and into natural light. I had no idea that this would create a small “boutique” feel in my bedroom, making it feel like I’m shopping every time I get dressed. And that’s only one of the many ways I was able to break my habit of fast fashion! Overall, by redirecting my love of fashion into something I’m also passionate about, I’ve been able to use sustainable style to cure my withdrawal of shopping at the mall. I can focus on clothing challenges as a way to exercise my creativity.
I’ve since been able to find a massive gang of sustainable babes who not only welcomed me into the community with open arms, but were integral in me discovering the confidence I needed to Just Wear It™. Forget the Mean Girls days where being catty and sarcasm was the norm; we’re the Nice Girls* and everyone can sit with us.
Get in babe, we’re going thrifting!
* Working title because gender is a stupid social construct and everyone is welcome
Anna Kate “AK” Bryan is a thrift blogger and graphic designer who hopes to empower others to break the habit of fast fashion through thrift shopping and sustainable style to help offset the impact on the environment. She lives with her husband and two kitties in Charlotte, North Carolina. When she’s not blogging or thrift shopping, she can be found practicing yoga or hanging out with friends at a coffee shop.
Facebook: AK Wears Things