Let’s face it: Winter isn’t happening this year. I’m having a tough time dealing with the regret of bringing my pea coat, snow boots and other chilly weather accessories from home only to sit idly in my closet, taking up valuable real estate. Real estate that could have been happily occupied by, say, more shoes.
However this is no time to dwell on lost closet space. Consumers should focus on reducing their consumption of new goods, which puts a strain on our resources. Wardrobes can be refreshed through more eco-friendly means, instead.
Temperatures have been exceeding 60 degrees, the squirrels along Liacouras Walk are back to begging for, well, stealing food full-time and was that the Mister Softee truck I heard rolling by Beury Beach the other day? It’s spring and it’s time to shove your UGG boots aside for some fresh, eco-friendly fashions.
While rummaging through your closet and plastic storage bins, you will likely come across items whose existence may only seem explicable by drunk online shopping sprees. Don’t throw those neon floral patterned tights away. Instead, mass text every fashionable friend in your contacts and organize a clothes swap. Ask everyone to bring the clothes they would rather abandon on the lint-covered floors of a Johnson and Hardwick laundry room, and then get a barter system going. Trade a couple “witty” graphic tees that have lost their edge for a perfectly worn-in pair of denim shorts. If no one finds anything of interest, head to the nearest clothing drop box or consignment shop. You’ll be getting a head start on spring-cleaning your wardrobe and maybe even make a bit of cash in the process.
If your friends’ hand-me-downs don’t satisfy your sartorial needs this spring, try some local thrift stores. Walk a little past Mugshots on Cecil B. Moore Avenue to University Thrift Shop, located at 1723 Cecil B. Moore Ave. This is not your uppity hipster thrift shop that charges $20 for an oversized T-shirt with a wolf illustration on it. University Thrift crams its racks with vintage deals for men and women. I once found a pair of seemingly new Chuck Taylor low-tops hanging out in a $1 bin alongside a vintage leopard print dress that I’m pretty sure Forever21 was trying to sell for about $30-plus.
Hit up the Salvation Army at 21st and Market streets for two floors of shoes, accessories and clothes arranged by color. The shop almost always designates items with a certain color tag to be on sale, so buyer’s remorse is not an issue.
If you’ve got an afternoon to kill, immerse yourself in what can only be described as your grandma’s attic times 10: Philly AIDS Thrift. The 710 S. Fifth St. location is so packed with dirt-cheap goods that you will likely be overwhelmed. Thankfully, its website emphasizes “Aimless browsing is strongly encouraged.”
For straight-from-the-mall secondhand finds, Buffalo Exchange at 1713 Chestnut St. is your best bet. Thanks to recent renovations, the store’s square footage has massively expanded along with the clothing selection. Prices are not crazy low – expect $10 and up for most items – but everything is in nearly new condition.
For those of you looking to refresh your wardrobe with new duds, look for garments crafted from sustainable fabrics. SAVA’s collection of tailored women’s clothes made from organic cotton and non-toxic dyes are way more haute than hippie. Check out the shop at 1700 Sansom St., which is located right next to the workshop where the majority of the merchandise is produced, for a sophisticated look to up your style from frat party to professional.
Let’s get back to your crowded seasonally confused closet. You know, if you just wipe the dust off your DIY glasses, you’ll see an entirely new wardrobe residing on all those wire hangers. Transform extra large T-shirts normally relegated to bedtime attire into simple crop tops with one swift slice of the scissors. Revive a boring button-down blouse as a skirt by wearing it on your waist and tying the sleeves into a bow it the front. Sounds grungy, but Google it – it’s classy, I swear. And, as a final and official goodbye to the winter that never was, you can snip the legs of your pants for some sweet shorts to kick off spring.
When you get the urge to hit the refresh button on your wardrobe, consider these options to decrease your environmental impact. If you find yourself incapable of walking around Rittenhouse Square without hitting up every store from Anthropologie to Zara, at least avoid the major environmental offenders like H&M, which was caught shredding unsold garments a couple years ago. And, of course, no matter where you shop, make sure to lug your loot in reusable bags.
Marisa Steinberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.