Today I’m participating in my friend Brita’s link-up, Getting to Know You. Especially since I’ve let this blog go on a little unplanned hiatus, I thought it would be a great way to get back into the swing of things!

Brita had a few questions for us this month…

What goals did you accomplish in 2016?

2016 was a really hard year for me. I ended 2015 with a week-long stay in the hospital for depression, so the focus of my year was recovery and self-care. I’m really proud of having come a long way over the past year in my recovery. I also wrote the majority of my master’s thesis, which I’m in the process of finishing up now.

And — I can’t believe I almost forgot! — I also started this blog at the beginning of 2016. I love how it’s developed and how I’ve grown into my niche. This blog has been the launching point of so many great friendships both near and far, and I’m grateful for everything I’ve welcomed into my life by putting some words on the internet.

Do you set New Year’s resolutions? Why or why not?

I did last year, when I decided not to buy anything new for a whole year. But for the most part, I use the new year to pause and reflect on where I’m at and where I’m going, to redefine and set goals, and to check in with myself about my priorities and how well I’m keeping my day to day life in line with what’s important to me.

One way I do this is by participating in Ali Edwards’s wonderful class, One Little Word. I’ll be blogging about my word for this year soon!

How do you work for what you want?

I’m extremely goal-oriented, but my fault is that I tend to look at the big picture rather than breaking things down into more manageable, quantifiable goals. For the most part, this has served me in the past, but it’s something I’m trying to recalibrate going forward.

I’m big on journaling about my goals, so that I can better verbalize to myself why something is important to me. My long-term goals literally get me up in the morning — I turn them into a mantra, and when I’m working towards something big, it’s often the thing I’ll say to myself as I wake up and get ready to attack the day.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I’m taking some time off from graduate school, but my plan is still to be finishing my PhD in Art History in about five years. One thing I’ve learned in my life so far is that the reality of achieving goals often looks a lot different than how I imagined it, and earning my PhD will be no different. But I’m confident in my own tenacity and dedication to earning my degree, even if the path to get there is more circuitous than the one I had originally set out to follow.

{ 1 }

For 2016, my New Year’s resolution was to buy nothing new. This didn’t mean not buying anything, but rather buying things used. Instead of shopping retail, I bought things from thrift stores, used on eBay, and other sources instead.

I had several goals:

  • Save money: I’m in grad school, and our budget was limited. I wanted to see if there were better ways to cut back on our spending that didn’t limit our enjoyment of doing things, like travel and going out to eat — the traditional things that people tell you to do in order to cut back on your budget.
  • Be a better consumer: It’s important to me to be a conscientious, ethical consumer, and buying secondhand rather than new seemed like a way to make this possible on a budget.
  • Become more of a minimalist: If it was harder to find the things I wanted, I figured, it would challenge me to reflect on whether I truly wanted or needed items.

Overall, I succeeded in my goal. There were a few things here and there that I decided were exceptions (food, medicine and toiletries, obviously, as well as printer ink and house paint), but otherwise, I went for an entire year without buying anything from retail stores.

How did I buy nothing new for a whole year, and what did I learn? Read on!

(You might want to start by reading my midyear update – Five Things I Learned in Six Months of Buying Nothing New)

1) There are nearly endless resources for buying things secondhand, thanks to the internet.

At the beginning of the year, I thought most of my shopping would be done at thrift stores, but I slowly discovered that the Internet is a nearly endless source of places where things can be bought secondhand. This includes sites like eBay, Etsy, and Craigslist, and apps like Poshmark. Facebook groups ended up being my main place for buying very specific items, like supplies for Project Life. If you can think of it, someone is probably selling it somewhere on the internet.

2) Community can be a source of what we need.

People are always looking for the things they no longer need to continue to be used and valued, so simply asking friends and family to pass along what you need and they don’t can be a huge resource. I also found some things I needed in my local Buy Nothing group and on Freecycle. Being upfront and honest about your consuming goals can end up being a win all around, because items not donated to thrift stores can help keep an overtaxed system from being further burdened (see the next item).

3) There are far more used goods than can be readily consumed.

My experiences at the Goodwill Outlets attest to the fact that there is far more donated to thrift stores that can readily be sold (and the vast majority of clothing sent to thrift stores ends up in clothing recycling, rather than being reworn). Simply put, thrift shopping helps keep things out of landfills — but so does thoughtful consuming from the get-go. The less we buy needlessly, the less we eventually discard.

4) Minimalism and thrift don’t always go hand in hand.

One of the results I expected from this project was to simply buy less. I also wanted to let go of as much as possible, and pare back what I owned. I dream of being able to fit everything I own in a suitcase, but in the end, that just isn’t me.
Whenever I could make something myself instead of buying it, I did. But DIY projects take a lot of supplies, and for the most part require a more maximalist lifestyle. It also gives me a lot of joy to buy things at the thrift store that others would likely pass over because they need someone to mend or reimagine them. As you can imagine, there are a *lot* of partially completed projects that I started because of all my thrift shopping this year.

5) … but thrifting well takes foresight and planning, which is very compatible with minimalism.

I love the idea of a capsule wardrobe, but never thought I could really achieve one. As I carefully planned out a list of clothing items that I was hunting down at thrift stores, I realized inadvertantly that a capsule wardrobe was exactly what I was creating. I became more of a maximalist in some areas, and more of a minimalist in others.

6) It’s important to know the difference between what we need and what we want.

Sometimes it’s easy to confuse the two, but when it takes more effort to track down and purchase the things you need, it becomes clear that some of those items are merely wants. Living without things I needed until I found them at the thrift store definitely made me a more creative problem solver, and helped me rediscover the utility of what I already owned.

7) If budget is the main concern, buying secondhand isn’t always the best option.

I mentioned this in my midyear post, but the rest of the year continued to drive home the absurdity of this for me. Probably thanks to sites like eBay, a lot of thift stores tend to mark up items that they deem — for whatever reason — to have a higher value, which means that newer items or nicer brands can be shockingly expensive when purchased secondhand. It’s often cheaper, and far easier, to buy something new at Walmart or H&M than it is to buy it thrifted. The ubiquity of fast fashion and budget retailers means that thrift shopping is a choice regardless of your budget, which is a good thing, but it means that at the same time that produciton of new items is soaring, there’s less reason to consume used, meaning more and more stuff in landfills (see #3).

8) There is beauty in what is old, fixed, mended, and remade.

I have always believed this, but find it to be even more true after the past year. When I started thrifting a decade ago, barely worn, high-quality vintage clothing was plentiful and easy to find. Now, thanks to the rise of fast fashion, good quality vintage is harder and harder to come by, and what I do find is often worn or damaged. I’ve come to love these pieces — which were still made far better than their contemporary counterparts, often by union workers in the US — and have upped my game at removing stains and mending small flaws. In 2017 I’d like to get back to sewing, so that I can better reimagine some of these pieces as contemporary garments.

9) The things we want, buy, and discard reflect who we are and how we change as people.

The past year has made me incredibly conscientious of what I consume, both what I’m buying currently and what I’ve purchased in the past. As I try to pare down my belongings, I’ve become keenly aware of what I donate myself to thrift stores, what’s likely to be purchased by someone else, and what will most likely end up in a landfill. But I’ve also started to notice the succession of items I bought through the years, and how they reflect my interests, tastes, and stages of life. I can’t beat myself up for no longer wanting the books or clothes I purchased in my early 20’s, because I’m not the same person anymore.

10) The sum of much of the above: privilege is important.

I spent the past year trying to be a self-reflective as possible about my own economic privilege — even if I don’t have a lot of money in the bank currently, I come from an affluent background that still shapes my consuming practices to a large extent. There were times when what I was doing felt extremely problematic, and I wondered if I should stop.

Was I being disrespectful by thrift shopping by choice, rather than necessity? (No – as long as I’m not creating scarcity, which would be hard to do.)

Is the kind of minimalist lifestyle I covet just another bougie trend? (Yes – but if I truly believe minimalism is a good consumer practice, what can I do to change that?)

Would I already understand much of the above had I come from a less affluent background? (Probably – and that’s why it feels important to be upfront about my privilege.)

These are still questions I’m continually thinking through, and I am completely open to thoughtful critique and conversation.

So what are my plans going forward in 2017?

I’m going to continue to buy secondhand as much as possible, adding into the mix supporting local and independent businesses. My goal is to limit my spending at chains and big box stores as much as I can, and to continue researching how I can be an ethical consumer on a budget. One of my goals for this blog is to do the research to help make ethical consuming available to anyone, on any budget. Look forward to more posts on these topics in the future!

{ 4 }

Earlier this year, I found a huge box of vintage Christmas bulbs at the Goodwill Outlet in Boston. I put them away until the holidays, excited to eventually make them into something beautiful. Here’s what I came up with! This super easy ornament DIY only needs a few supplies, and can easily be embellished with whatever you have in your stash, such as ribbon or yarn.

Crystal and I love decorating our tree, and every year I’ve tried to add some new vintage ornaments to our collection. I love how these handmade ones add vintage charm to our tree while also incorporating my own handiwork. Once you’ve made a few, they become extremely easy to make in batches — so make a few for your tree, and then a few extra to give as gifts!

Supplies needed:

  • Vintage Christmas Bulbs (these can be found at thrift stores, or purchased on eBay).
  • 20 or 22 gauge Craft Wire in copper or gold (such as this one).
  • Scissors (I love how well these ones can cut craft wire).
  • Embellishments, such as vintage ribbon, yarn, and tinsel (like this).
  • Optional: glue gun (such as this one).

How to Make a Vintage Christmas Bulb Ornament:

Step one: Cut lengths of the craft wire to approximately 10″. Twist the ends together to form a loop.

Step two: Holding the twisted end against the base of the bulb, use your other hand to twist the wire in place. Try to make as small of a loop as possible so that the wire stays secure.

Step three: Bring the larger loop forward, fitting it into the grooves of the bulb. Twist it again, several times, as tightly as possible.

Step four: Carefully shape the wire into an oblong shape. This will be how your ornament hangs on the tree.

Step five: Embellish your ornament! I used silk and grosgrain ribbon, tinsel, and scraps from my favorite yarns. This is a great project for using small amounts of supplies left over from other projects.

If you prefer, use a glue gun to secure your embellishments in place.

That’s it! If you make your own ornaments, I would love to see how they turn out.

 

{ 1 }

I had so much fund doing my first thrift haul, I decided to do a second! Doing these videos has been a much bigger challenge than I anticipated, and I have a newfound respect for all the thrifting Youtubers I watch now. But it’s also getting easier as I go along. I think I’m getting the hang of it!

In this thrift haul, I talk a little about some of my recent finds at my favorite thrift store, Circle Thrift, as well as my favorite online platform for buying and selling secondhand clothing, Poshmark. I also shared a few items I found at a new store to me, the Savers in Willow Grove. I recently took an awesome thrifting class with Nadene of Thrifty Business with Jay & Nay there, so I’m sharing some of my finds from that class.

In this thrift haul, I talk a little about finding two of my ‘holy grails’ of thrifting — things I have been looking out for for months, even years, and finally found. This time, I managed to find my first Burberry piece and some amazing gold-plated flatware similar to the set I’ve been coveting at West Elm. What are some of your thrifting holy grails? Have you ever found one?

I’m realizing now that I have so much to learn if I want to keep doing these videos — lighting, equipment, editing, etc. But I hope you enjoy these early vlogging attempts as much as I loved making them! As before, I’m completely open to constructive feedback, and I’d love to know what sorts of things you’d like to see in future videos.

If you liked this post, you might want check out my first haul video! You can also read more about my favorite places in Fishtown, or how to get started buying and selling on Poshmark

{ 4 }

This post was generously sponsored by JORD Wood Watches.

I’m one of those weird people who loves winter — the cold, the snow, the holidays, all of it. And I particularly love winter style, with cozy sweaters, sleek jackets, and lots of layers.

Vintage Winter Style paired with a JORD watch

A few weeks ago, the folks at JORD generously sent me one of their watches for review. I’ve been wanting to do a vintage fashion post for a long time, and I thought this was the perfect opportunity to finally show off my vintage style.

Vintage Winter Style paired with a JORD watch

My key to wearing vintage is to mix it with modern basics — here, a vintage 60’s jacket and scarf with jeans and a tee. The scarf is from my collection of vintage tourist scarves, and shows a map of Paris — although I happened to stumble upon it in New York City. The jacket, in a cobalt blue that doesn’t feel dated at all, was a Salvation Army find. The inside label reveals its provenance as being from Erlebacher Washington DC, a high-end store that was a favorite of Jackie O. The best part of thrifting for vintage, for me, is getting to wear these pieces that abound with stories and history.

The beautiful JORD woman’s watch I selected is perfect year-round, but particularly easy to pair with outfits that epitomize my winter style, and looked right at home with my vintage pieces. I love the play of colors between the blues and greens in this outfit.

Vintage Winter Style paired with a JORD watch

From the moment I opened my JORD watch in its beautiful box, I was impressed with how beautiful and obviously well made it is. I chose the Dark Sandalwood and Emerald women’s watch, which was an easy choice because it pairs two of my favorite colors, and was so excited to start pairing it with my thrifted and vintage finds.

Vintage Winter Style paired with a JORD watch

Another of my keys to wearing vintage is selecting timeless, high-quality pieces that look at home with any outfit and wear beautifully over time. This vintage Coach purse is one of my favorite items in my closet, and only looks better year after year. I love mixing black and brown, and the gold details on the unique watch and the classic purse tie them together beautifully. I know they’re going to be my go-to winter style accessories.

Vintage Winter Style paired with a JORD watch

outfit details: Jacket: vintage Erlebacher Washington DC / Scarf: vintage map  of Paris scarf/ Purse: vintage Coach / Jeans: Madewell  / Watch: c/o JORD

If you’d like a JORD wood watch of your own, you can enter here to win a $75 credit towards a watch of your own. Giveaway closes 12/4!

I hope you liked this vintage winter style post! If this is something you’d like to see more of in the future, I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments.


Wooden Wristwatch

{ 4 }