How to Find the Best Used Clothing with Emily of @blueumbrellalane
Emily uses her social networks for inspiration and secondhand purchases. Learn more about where she finds her favorite used pieces—online and offline, from the US to Australia.
So, who are you? :)
I’m Emily, an Australian based in Melbourne, Australia. I’m a a big slow fashion and thrifting advocate and I’m thrilled there is so much conversation going on about this issue. It’s a matter of making conscious decisions rather than buying for the sake of buying. I’ve been thrifting since I was in high school but I started doing it on a more full-time basis when I was living in Seattle, USA, about 6 years ago. I also love a good refashion—I’m not the best, but I’ve learned my way around a sewing machine. If you master basic sewing you can make quite a few changes and alterations. I used to blog a lot of my refashions on my blog blueumbrellalane.com but I haven't done a new one for a while.
How did you get into slow fashion? Why is it important to you?
I really got into slow and thrifted fashion when I was living in the US. I had just moved there and as I didn’t know many people I spent a lot of time after work walking around my neighborhood and visiting the many thrift stores around. Every time I left a store with something, either for my wardrobe or my room. I couldn’t believe how much you could find secondhand so I set myself a challenge to buy only secondhand for a full year. It was surprisingly easy and something I've tried to embody since then.
It was also soon after Rana Plaza, the worst garment factory disaster in history. That was heavy on my mind. Over the years I’ve also started reading and learning about the environmental impact fashion has on the world and I believe we have a personal responsibility to reduce our impact on the environment and advocate that brands do that same.
What is your go-to look?
My favorite go-to look is a belted statement midi dress. They’re so easy to wear and without much effort you instantly look dressed up, or you can also dress them down with flats and a leather jacket. I especially love Boden, a UK brand.
What's a piece in your closet you wear to make more of a statement?
Anything brightly colored and patterned, midi length, and belts!
Where do you get most of your items?
I mostly get my clothing from thrift stores and Facebook Marketplace.
What's your advice on finding a style and building a closet you love (that is sustainable!)?
I can’t say this enough! Be open to trying new things. If you’re going to step out of your comfort zone you need to try things. Get inspiration from people around, Pinterest, Instagram, past decades etc., try to copy an outfit you like with things you have in your closet. Experiment with wearing your clothes in different ways. If you’re hesitant about diving into secondhand clothing, start small. Belts and bags are one of the easiest things to thrift, plus you can often find really good quality ones.
If you’re at a thrift store make sure you try things on. If you’ve found something vintage sizes differ a lot so don’t worry about what the tag says. Too many times I’ve bought something at a thrift store without trying it on only to find out it doesn’t fit or sit right.
How do you think you can do more to be sustainable?
I can always do more. I do fall in the trap of buying because I get a craving. I can be better about being more conscious of not buying for the sake of buying, and ensuring if I do pick something up it will go with what I have at home.