Recently I’ve had some experience with people pressuring me into doing things I don’t want to do. Whether it’s partnering with a business that would be of absolutely no interest to my blog readers or working more hours than I’m comfortable with, I’ve found myself saying “no” more often lately. But you know what? It’s easy when I’m firm in my reasoning.


Have a happy Thursday y’all, and may you stand on principle whenever necessary.

how to shop for secondhand clothing

If you’ve spent much time in thrift stores (or sorting through donations for nonprofits or following a disaster), you know that our society is absolutely overrun with clothes. It’s a burden. It’s kind of jarring when you think about it that clothes are mass-produced, worn for a short time, then sent to languish on thrift store racks while they are still in good condition. It’s the definition of excess. Thanks to Macklemore, thrifting is becoming more popular but it’s still kind of stigmatized and there are still more clothes than we could ever need getting donated to thrift stores every day. At my favorite thrift store I regularly walk out with Banana Republic, J. Crew, Calvin Klein, and the less fancy but still adorable Loft, Target, Gap, and Old Navy items for $3 a pop. I even found a Diane von Furstenberg blouse once but sadly it wasn’t my size.

You can save a ton of money and also do your part to reduce waste by buying clothing secondhand. But if you’re new to thrifting it can be intimidating and overwhelming. You can read all my tips in my recent post for Red Stick Moms Blog!

You can see some of my recent acquisitions in this post from last week. I haven’t bought any “new” clothes in several months (besides a swimsuit and some scrubs for work, though I do always check out the scrubs at thrift stores as well). I don’t miss traditional shopping at all! I’m able to pick up a few new pieces every month without guilt over spending too much money. Once you get really comfortable with thrift shopping it can be totally addicting to find such cute clothes for so little money.

A Pattern Language

This book was full of answers to questions I didn’t even know to ask. I’ve always been interested in the design of spaces indoors and out, but the actual science of design is so technical that it’s difficult for me to wrap my head around. A Pattern Language is written in laymen’s terms and is as much rooted in psychology and sociology as it is in the study of architecture. The “language” is comprised of 253 “patterns” that anyone can use to create a space that feels comfortable. I think the term patterns is misleading. They’re really just basic principles of design, and I suppose the authors chose to call them patterns because they occur again and again in a wide variety of spaces. The authors acknowledge that not every pattern will apply to every project or even suit the tastes of every reader, but taken one by one I found many of them quite interesting. For example (paraphrased from the book):

114. Hierarchy of open space. People always try to find a spot where they can have their backs protected, looking out toward some larger opening, beyond the space immediately in front of them.

134. Zen view. If there is a beautiful view, don’t spoil it by building huge windows that gape incessantly at it. Instead, put the windows which look onto the view at places of transition–along paths, in hallways, in entryways, on stairs, between rooms. If people are able to sit and stare at the view without effort it will lose interest, but if they catch only glimpses in passing it will remain beautiful forever. Optionally, provide a special spot to sit so that enjoyment of the view becomes a definite act in its own right.

140. Private terrace on the street. Let the common rooms open onto a wide terrace or porch which looks onto the street. Raise it slightly above street level and protect it with a low wall, which you can see over if you sit near it, but which provides a sense of enclosure. The wall can double as seating or table space.

159. Light on two sides of every room. If this is impossible it can be helped by high ceilings, white walls, large windows, and deep reveals.

180. Window place. In every room where you spend any length of time during the day, make at least one window into a “window place.” Build a window seat, or provide an armchair, or surround the space with windows on three sides.

185. Sitting circle. Place each sitting space in a position which is protected, not cut by paths or movement, roughly circular, with paths and activities around it so that people naturally gravitate toward the chairs when they get into the mood to sit. Place the chairs and cushions loosely in the circle, and have a few too many.

191. The shape of indoor space. With occasional exceptions, make each indoor space or each position of space a rough rectangle, with roughly straight walls, near right angles in the corners, and a roughly symmetrical vault over each room.

249. Small panes. Windows which are broken up into small panes afford more interesting views. They also provide a greater sense of protection and help to create filtered light.

251. Different chairs. People are different sizes. They sit in different ways. Never furnish any place with chairs that are identical. Choose a variety–some big, some small, some softer than others, some rockers, some very old, some new, some with arms and some without, some wicker, some wood, some upholstered.

252. Pools of light. Place lights low and apart to form individual pools of light which encompass chairs and tables like bubbles to reinforce the social character of the spaces which they form. Remember that you can’t have pools of light without the darker places in between.

I focused mostly on the patterns relating to residential design, but nearly half of the book relates more directly to public or commercial spaces. Even those that I don’t think I’ll ever have occasion to use were FASCINATING. If you’ve got even a passing interest in architecture or design I highly recommend A Pattern Language. It’s easy to skim over the patterns which don’t interest you–heck, I skipped the first 100 because I wanted to get to the residential stuff. It’s pricey, so I recommend checking it out from your local library unless you think you’ll be referencing it often.

I think that most folks associate thrift store style with vintage clothing, a la either Macklemore or the coolest girl in Theatre Club. While I love vintage finds for my home, I am not so good at wearing vintage clothing and I actually don’t see much of it in thrift stores anyway. What I do love wearing and find plenty of are popular contemporary brands. I made a vow back in April to buy only secondhand clothing for a year. Here are some of my faves purchased in just the last few months:

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This Target dress is so comfortable and flattering. It hits just above the knee and provides plenty of coverage up top so I can wear it in professional settings, but it’s breezy enough to go almost anywhere. I probably wear it at least once a week, usually with a thin belt.

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This one is made by Poetry and is more of a date night dress. The back requires a fancy bra, it’s hand wash only, and it’s a little on the short side, but I wore it out on our anniversary last month and felt like a million bucks even in flats.

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This Banana Republic top is totally adorable. I love the color and the cut. I can wear it with shorts or jeans or tuck it into a skirt for a more tailored look.

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This Old Navy top is soooo comfortable. We’ve taken a couple of road trips this summer and it’s perfect for long car rides. It feels like pajamas but looks much cuter.

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I just bought this Gap dress last week and haven’t had a chance to wear it yet. It’s definitely more of a date night dress but that waistband? It’s elastic. My favorite color, figure-flattering, and forgiving of extra helpings? Yes, please. It’s too bad we don’t have any weddings on the horizon because it would be perfect for munching on cake and dancing the night away.

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This dress is made by Lush and I’ve practically lived in it this summer. It’s perfect as a swimsuit coverup or with a racerback bra for wearing almost anywhere. It’s definitely my go-to on weekends because it’s comfortable enough to lounge in all day but decent enough for an impromptu outing.

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I didn’t recognize the label in this dress and it actually looked a bit different when I bought it. There were waaaay too many ruffles on top and my small stature just cannot handle all that volume. I bought it at a thrift store in Austin and used a small pair of scissors to remove all the stitching attaching the ruffles in our hotel room, then wore it to dinner that night! The remaining ruffles are a little wrinkly here and that is the only downside to this dress, seeing as I hate to iron. I usually just spritz them with a little water then lay them down to dry flat before putting it on and adding a leather belt.

Not everything I buy at thrift stores is a winner. I bring home plenty of duds even after ruthlessly editing in the fitting room, but the beauty of it is that no single item ever costs me more than $5. I dare say that I’m dressing better now than ever because I used to update my wardrobe very rarely. Now that I can walk into a store and come out with several pieces for under $20 I’m shopping much more often