Monday Monthly Mission #9

January 4th, 2010 - filed under: Furthermore » Monday Monthly Mission

On the first Monday of every month, we take on a ‘mission’ – a shift or habit or inspiration – to work on together. There’s strength (and support) in numbers! On the last Thursday of the month, we reconvene to see how far we’ve come.


I’ve written quite a bit in the past about my idea of ‘Ethical Sartorialism‘. A huge component of the ES lifestyle involves buying almost exclusively secondhand – a seemingly daunting task to many style mavens. But now I’m putting the challenge to all of you!

Pretty straightforward: no buying new textiles. No new clothes! Stay out of the mall! Avoid the big box store!

If it sounds difficult, here’s some inspiration –
1) The Year Of Living Thriftily is a blog by an uber-fashionista who vowed to shop exclusively secondhand for an entire year. She’s got a great sense of humor and there’s lots of fun fashion pics, too.
2) The Uniform Project tracks one girl as she wears ONE dress for an entire year. An interesting exploration of abundance, and this chick has mad style.

So if you’re not shopping at your old retail standbys, where will you get that blazer you need for work or the perfect cocktail dress for your new hot date? Well, you’ll have to be a bit more resourceful. But thrift stores and secondhand boutiques are awesome, often undiscovered, treasure troves! I suggest you get to know your local spots and try to visit often.

You can also do a lot of secondhand shopping online, from Amazon to Ebay to Etsy, these sites offer great opportunities (especially if you’re into vintage).

And what about me? Are you wondering how I’ll participate if I already live this way?

Well let me tell you, if you think thrifting is hard, try maternity thrifting! I’m big and pregnant now and it’s a challenge keeping myself styled. I’m also in full-on baby prep mode, which unfortunately means a lot of consumption – from baby clothes and blankies to bibs and burp rags. I’ve got a lot of stuff to accumulate here!

So, I’ll be working doubly hard to make certain I stick to my principles. All the baby textiles I purchase will be secondhand. That’s my challenge this month.

And what about you, my wonderfully well-dressed friends? Are you with me? Do you choose to accept this mission?


  • http://www.lostinoversettelse, Kirstin

    I LOVE this challenge!
    I’ve just moved to Norway from Washington state, and there is a serious lack of second hand organizations here, but I’m very up for trying as much as possible to make this challenge work! I’m all about reusing thus reducing, and my Husband and I aren’t in the family way just yet, but I’ve been researching the most eco-friendly baby options already, and totally excited!
    Thanks for the mission, and good luck with your nesting!

  • EroSan

    Well… seeing how not-buying new clothes is good for my economy, I’ll definitely it.


  • Staar

    This challenge fits in with my big goal for this year. I’m not buying any clothes or shoes for all of 2010. I am however allowing myself to sew my own clothes. So this month I’ll make sure to buy only second hand fabric and patterns.

  • Eric Normand


    Your site is such an inspiration. We buy too many clothes! Not only does it waste so much, it makes us lazy and uncreative. I’m sure you’re going to love this challenge.

    Good luck.

  • sarah

    Yes! I already do this one! Actually… that makes me kinda sad. No challenge… oh well ;)

    Because of your blog and my other research I already feel a moral opposition to buying new clothing (check out, except for certain items that you kind of need to be unused lol. I appreciated your post on where to buy those certain items last month ;)

    Honestly, I hate shopping anyway… but thrift stores? OK… I enjoy that. It’s like a treasure hunt every time, and fortunately we have a lot of secondhand stores around here, including a great one right around the corner from my house. (Anyone new to this in KCMO email me and I can point you to them).

    Also, check out (basically it’s just Yahoo groups), but it’s like Craigslist only everything has to be free, and the groups are all over the States.

  • sarah

    Holy crap… the Uniform Project is AWESOME!!!!!!

  • Laura O

    Kirstin: try setting up a clothing swap with your new Norwegian friends. Almost everyone has stuff they don’t want anymore, and I’ve come away from swaps with bags of stylish, new-to-me clothes. It was perfect for when I was in AmeriCorps and living on a VERY limited income! Plus it’s also an excuse to have a potluck.

  • Laura Burris

    When I was born all of my clothes were second hand. I see no problem with it, children grow so fast, why buy new? It’s also so much cheaper.

  • Katie

    I love this Mission. I’m relatively new to my area, and it’s pretty thrift-store-bereft, so it’ll be a challenge, but I’m excited about it! No need for my relocation to force me into the mall, I say…

  • bashtree

    I like this idea! I don’t really buy many clothes but I DO like the idea of buying secondhand when the opportunity or need arises. We just moved to a new, MUCH colder climate, and the winter has brought along a need for some new gear. Second-hand is awesome.

  • Laura Louise

    This is awesome!
    I started out this year with secondhand shopping. Got a lot of basic things. Just have to think how to personalize them. I get some of my clothes from my cousins and some friends. I just ask them if they have any clothes they do not want any more and sometimes i find some really awesome things like that.

    I’m also planning on making a diy body form and making my own clothes. We have a fabric store, that sells defected fabrics and the last smaller pieces of fabrics on rolls. I have bought a lot of fabrics there, as i think this way it’s not THAT bad. I don’t know if i should do this or not, what do you think?

    Oh by the way, I bought some fabric (last year) to make myself panties! I hope to get to that in at least a few weeks.

  • Tenise Rae

    I’m SOOOO up for this challenge. I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time too. I used to be a hardcore thrift shopper. I used to go thrift shopping once a week or more (in high school it was almost every day). I remember thinking, “I don’t even know HOW to shop in a department store.” Hehehe. Unfortunately in the last 5 years or so I’ve lost all focus. I think it was when Value Village went out of business. Plus, the town I live in doesn’t really have any good thrift shops either. It’s rather disappointing. However, I’m starting to think that this might be my frame of mind. I’m SO uninspired in this damn town. I have to get back into the “treasure finding” mode, ya know? So, yes, I do accept this challenge. Why spend money on a shitty 5 dollar Wal mart/Target shirt that will fall apart shortly after wearing it when I could have something of better quality and is more stylish. Seems rather simple to me (and why would I want to support Walmart or Target anyway? – Yuck).

    Plus, there’s always GREAT pottery in thrift shops. Found this AWESOME little pot a couple months ago. It helped me to realize what I am truly missing!!

  • daoine o’

    i’m a longtime hardcore thrift-store secondhand shopper…i love the challenge and the thrill of finding a special one-of-a-kind thing; the ‘diamonds in the rough’!

    i loathe going to malls (read ‘mauls’) and big-box stores and thankfully haven’t gone to any in years, and just thinking about places like target/walmart/kmart, et al pretty much turns my stomach. there is so much consumption and waste and drive to part folk from their hard-earned money, telling them they need the ‘latest and greatest’, it’s sickening.

    me and mine live pretty simply and make do with what we have, or we do without. i’m working barely 12 hours a week right now, and my partner was laid off 3 months ago and is receiving bare unemployment. we have precious little money and thus no ‘extra’ money at all. it’s hard to see such rampant consumerism all around.

    ‘k, sorry for the sad-sack post. ;) but i hope others can gain some inspiration from this parting quote (i have it on my refrigerator):

    “he who buys what he does not need steals from himself.” ~unknown


  • Josey

    SO funny that you made this the MMM, because I just made this my new year’s resolution!

  • Janine

    I already mostly live this way. I was thinking about it this week, and about 90% of my closet is secondhand. So funny, because I had so many years of refusing to thrift shop with my mother, insisting I was too good for it. The real shame is I know adult fashionistas who still feel that way. I don’t even consider them stylish, honestly. Anyone can look like a catalogue.

    I will probably end up doing this mission this month without even trying. I just inherited some shoes and tons of secondhand furniture (!). The only clothing I may have to cave on is new jeans… It’s hard enough finding the perfect fit when you buy brand new. (Although, the jeans I wore the most the past year were via Plato’s Closet.)

    Secondhand clothes are my favorite way to recycle! I often wonder how long the whole country could go before we’d need to buy or produce new clothing, if *everyone* only bought secondhand.

    For secondhand baby: Try Deseret Industries on 82nd! And in the summer, yard sales are #1 place for kids clothes.

  • Tabitha

    Great idea! I’m definitely in. Except I bought new shoes yesterday…but that’ll be the last new thing this month. :)

  • Ginger Baker

    Other than new undergarments (bought as prep for a salsa trip to puerto rico since mine at the time were quite raggedy plus 2 dance dresses and a pair of pjs since I was sharing he hotel room) purchased in July of 2009, I did not buy any clothes for myself in 2009 at all. I did replace my sneakers and my interview shoes but that was unavoidable. In 2008 I think I bought about six pair of leggings and a few tshirts (also to dance in). I just wear what I own :shrugs: and it is pretty easy. You made me laugh at the maternity clothes – I got a few things secondhand, bought one pair of pants, and own enough stretchy skirts that I was pretty golden both times! Mostly this lack of shopping is due to a combo of finances and utter loathing of the shopping experience! If I get this new job though I will likely have to bite the bullet and upgrade my business wardrobe a notch or two. And new stockings are definitely on my list to acquire. Other than that and maybe making some new skirts myself, I don’t see my next few years being radically differnt from the last few.

  • Courtney

    I have been trying to buy my clothes from thrift stores for a couple of months now. It’s just really hard when you need tall’s in almost everything. But I think it’s a MMM that I can try really hard to stick to. Except undergarments and socks of course.

  • Lily

    Yes, I will try this. What a great idea for the new year. I agree, Sayward, this site is such an inspiration. :)

  • sarah

    daoine o’ that quote is fantastic. I think I need that on my fridge too.

  • Sayward

    Hooray! I’m so happy to see so much enthusiasm for this mission. You guys are awesome, I can’t wait to hear al the thrift-store-score stories!!!

    @ Laura Loise – I love love love the idea of making your own clothes! Buying discontinued or discounted fabrics is definitely better than supporting brand new, in-demand fabrics. But, it’s still a risk of buying from companies that use sweatshops or environmentally unfriendly manufacturing practices.

    I have found thrift stores to be great sources of fabric, and even if you can’t find actual yardage, you can always buy cheap big clothes and cut them up! Same with sheets and blankets and stuff. I know ‘pillowcase skirts’ were really popular a few years ago.

    Anyway, it’s totally up to you what you want to do this month. Whatever works best for you and your life! =)

  • Salekdarling

    I remember reading about that Dress project on Etsy. Very interesting! Thanks for the links :-)

  • Annie

    I am definitely up for this one. I have scanned over your monthly challanges and am trying out a fair few of them, including no-poo, and then going to have a go at making my own deodorant too. I love your blog and your ideas!! I live in a small town, but there are plenty of charity shops which are always brim full with fantastic finds and handy bits and bobs. I found pretty much everything I needed for my uni flat in a charity shop!
    Thanks for such a useful and amazing idea!

  • MathTutor

    I feel kinda bad because I just made an purchase and I am swimming in the glories of being a temp at Armani Exhange (free cloths and KILLER discounts)…but I nonetheless take the challenge! I have some credit cards I should close anyways and this would definetly help me with my finances. Luckily I live not too far away from ATX (what I consider the thriftiest city in TX) and PLATOS CLOSET just opened in San Antonio! If you haven’t heard of it def. check it out and see if there is one near you…you can sell and buy clothes there its great and there is soooo much stuff there even in my new store.

  • Kelly

    Excellent! Love those links!!

  • Annelise

    I’m trying to do this. Unfortunately, I had to buy some basic tees from a retail store…I’d lost weight so none of my old tees fit, and I’d been trying for a long time to find some. So, finally I gave up and just bought four on clearance. I’m going to be making my own skirts though, mostly from thrifted sheets.

    I buy most of my kitchenware from thrift stores. I find lots of vintage pyrex for a couple dollars, which is nice since I love it. Also, all our furniture we own (besides our mattress) was bought second hand. We’re buying a second hand washer and dryer later this month.