FLAX + Why I Mostly Shop Second-Hand Clothing

>> Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Alright, so my wardrobe post is far overdue. The last we chatted about the things I wear, I had been sucked temporarily into the LuLaRoe world. I don’t know how it happened, guys. I’m not particularly proud of it. I even cringe thinking about seeking out online parties to buy leggings that soon fell apart. But that’s a post for another day. In short: I think I was bored nursing all those hours. My body was different after baby number two, and the stretch helped me ignore and better accept the changes. LuLaRoe shopping filled a void of sorts. Then all my clothes started pilling and getting holes after one wear, so I stopped that stuff cold turkey.

I have since unfollowed all Facebook shopping groups (and have basically quit Facebook in general), I politely decline all in-house party invitations, and I tell everyone who asks that the clothes don’t hold up. Thing is, before that little blip . . . I had been buying the vast majority of my clothing second hand for years.

And that’s my policy now. It’s an evolution, as always.


Why I mostly buy second hand


I could go on for days about the reasons I like to shop at thrift stores and other reuse shops for my clothing. Some reasons are obvious. Others maybe no so much. I had many other posts on this topic on my other blog Writing Chapter Three, so maybe I’ll try to re-post them here someday soon.

Here are my top three reasons of the moment.

I buy second hand because . . .

  • The clothing is far cheaper than the stuff you’ll find in retail stores. I’d say I generally spend between $4 and $20 on each piece of clothing that comes into my closet. The average price is around $10 to $15. But even that sounds a bit high. It just depends on the store and the item I’m purchasing.
  • The clothing is better quality than I could otherwise afford. If I were to go to a FLAX store (my favorite brand) and buy a new piece, it would run me between $40 and $100 per item. I don’t have that kind of money hanging around. But, I can find something old + in great condition (because quality!) and give it new life for a fraction of the price.
  • I feel shopping this way is more ethical. I am in no way getting on a high horse here (uh, LuLaRoe?). But I am learning and trying to do better with my buying practices. I am trying better to avoid fast fashion and its many issues, save clothing from landfills, reuse perfectly good items, etc.

Where do I buy?


Here are the places I regularly shop. By regular, I mean that I visit all my local shops about once a month in a rotation. I try to hit the days when they’re having 50 percent off sales or similar promotions.

The stores include:

  • Good Will, two locations in my area
  • Thrifty Shopper, two locations in my area
  • Salvation Army, two locations in my area
  • Trader K (if you’re local, it’s in Ithaca)
  • Misc. other local thrift

I also shop second hand online:
* You can earn $5 to spend when you sign up with code NYRLS!

I have a modest monthly clothing allowance set up for each family member in the budget. While I don’t always NEED new clothes, sometimes I see a piece I really like, and it’s worth the $5 to add it and maybe purge something else from my wardrobe.

The same goes for the girls. I do a mix of new and previously loved clothing for them. I find that onesies, for example, are often better bought new. They may even be cheaper on clearance. The stuff I can find on thrift for kids is usually in awesome condition. But the girls’ clothing is a topic for another day.


What do I buy?


These days, I primarily seek out FLAX clothing for myself. If you’re unfamiliar, FLAX is a line of generously cut linen duds that started in 1995 with Jeanne Engelhart in Ithaca, NY. I don’t know the whole history, but I started shopping FLAX in 1999 when I attended a barn sale with my boyfriend’s mother when I was in high school. It was my introduction to natural fibers in clothing, and I saw this way of dressing as funky and sort of strange . . . but it did inform many of my college wardrobe choices.

Fast forward many years and many personal styles, I returned to flax after I found a piece randomly at our local Thrifty Shopper. It was a dress for $8, and I wear it all the time. After that, I started slowly chipping away at buying pieces I could find for under $15. If you hunt FLAX like I do, you know this is no easy feat. Especially now with the popularity of linen clothing, people are definitely marking things up, which I get. But they are marking them up to a grossly high premium.

For example, there’s a FLAX jumper I love on Ebay right now, and the semi-local store owner has several similar pieces. She’s charging $225 . . . for each . . . and I believe she’s earning that amount, too. More power to her, but boo to those of us frugal FLAX lovers. I’m pretty sure we shop at some of the same thrift shops, and I know the markup is ridiculous. But, I digress.

I have been limiting myself to primarily buying these linen items for a few reasons. First, many of them are from the 1990s and look fantastic despite their age. This means they will last. Second, flax is a sustainable, natural fiber. It gets better with each wash, soft and breathable. Third, I like how the clothing is cut. It’s modest, but cute. It’s flowing and flattering. It also seems both timeless and age-less. I promise I’ll dedicate a post very soon to how I style my flax clothing.

My closet


So, I am sure you want to see what pieces I own. Right now I have a total of 30 items in my closet that make up my main wardrobe. It’s mostly flax and denim pieces. This 30-count does not include pajamas, underwear, socks, and activewear. I have decided I model some of my favorite outfits for you guys later this week.

Here’s a quick snapshot if you’re curious.


In my next post, I’ll give you a run down of each item in my closet (a few are missing here -- jeans, mostly). I’ll also show you my five favorite pieces that get the most wear. And I’ll give you some tips to hunt FLAX on your own. I actually get a lot of questions about this clothing on my Instagram, so this post isn’t totally random. I hope it helps!



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