Shopping with Meaning

One of the big reasons I do all this thrifting jazz is that I want my money to go to something other than retail clothing giants who source materials in environmentally unfriendly ways and use sweatshop labor to make their products.  I’d rather the profit from something I buy go to a cause I believe in, like job training and creation at Goodwill, or—at various other thrift shops I’ve patronized—assistance for folks who are physically and/or intellectually differently abled, addiction treatment programs, kidney disease research, local charities, etc. etc.

Another place I’m willing to spend some money?  Socially conscious businesses that employ marginalized people who wouldn’t otherwise have a job.  Jewelry & accesories companies, I’ve noticed, often take this tack: the people on the ground get together with social entrepreneurs to get their wares into wealthier markets (like middle/upper class America) where people can afford/want to buy their products.

If I’m completely honest, it feels a little weird to say, “Let me buy this completely unnecessary bauble in order to fund your family’s grocery budget/school fees/healthcare/other things that are absolutely necessary.”  Why should my comparative economic privilege exist in the first place?  Why do I have to buy, in effect, luxury goods for someone else to merely eat?

But to hear employees tell it, it’s a way to get wealth from one side of the world to another that gives dignity and purpose to the people (most often women) producing the goods because they’re earning a living through a job.

So here’s one of those places I’m planning to patronize: Starfish Project enables women in Asia who have been exploited through human trafficking to find stability through employment making jewelry.  Give it a gander and see if anything tickles your fancy (or the fancy of someone you love with a birthday coming up….or your Valentine!).

Check some more out at Storyweaver Mercantile, a new online marketplace that gathers several such businesses in one handy place.  (Full disclosure: individual businesses featured may get 50% of the profit from your purchase when you buy through the mercantile, so consider going straight to the business’ own site.)

Scroll down to share your thoughts and social entrepreneurial enterprises you support!



Giving up Shopping as a Spiritual Discipline

What?  You thought I would cease thrift shopping as a spiritual discipline for Lent?  Nahhhhh.

Oh, sorry, that’s probably a misleading title.   But it IS the topic of this post!

The Christian season of Lent starts tomorrow (on Ash Wednesday).  It’s a 40-day period of introspection, prayer, and penitence leading up to Easter and commemorating Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness before the start of his ministry.  (Wikipedia can tell you more.)

A variety of Christians observe it in a variety of ways, but a very common practice is to give up something you love to eat/drink/do for the whole 40 days as a way to identify with Jesus’ sacrifice & temptation in the desert and to strip away distractions from your relationship with God.  Common Lenten disciplines include not eating meat; not drinking alcohol; not swearing; no candy; no gossip, etc.  (Not usually all in the same Lent, though!)

Other folks pick something up for Lent, spending daily time in meditation, prayer, kind acts, etc. as a sacrifice of time and a way to grow closer to God.

Hey Leah, this is a style blog! you say.  Why are you nattering on about Lent?

Don’t worry, I’m getting there!

When I’ve given up something for Lent, I’ve tried to make it something that was standing in between God and me.  (For example, in grad school one year I gave up because my increasing procrastination on the site when I should have been studying theology/doing homework put my focus on superficial, sensationalized content instead of more profound stuff.)

Thrift shopping has, at times, been that kryptonite for me.  One summer in grad school (I see a common thread here—grad school is hard and tempts you with inappropriate coping mechanisms), I went on thrifting benders to deal with the lack of direction/meaning in my life outside of school.  (Therapy helped solve that one!  I highly recommend.) (Also, thrifting benders?  I’m just imagining what you’re imagining right now: Leah tripping down the aisles of Last Chance, clothes up to her eyeballs in one hand, mimosa in the other….just kidding, it was much less salacious than that.)


Right now, despite the fact that I have a blog all about thrifting, thrift shopping doesn’t consume an inordinate amount of time or energy (or money!) in my life.  Two reasons for this:

  1. I have meaning in lots of other areas of my life and have healthy ways to deal with stress that don’t involve unplugging by SHOPPPPPPPING.
  2. I have found ways to frequent thrift stores (which is truly relaxing and fun for me) without buying a bunch of stuff (which always gives me a high followed by a pretty empty crash.  Wanh wannnnh).  These include thriftstagramming as described here, and capsule wardrobes that help me realize that I already have enough.


All in all, giving up thrifting at this time in my life would be a pretty “easy” Lenten fast/discipline without a lot to point me toward God.  So I’ve got between now and tomorrow morning to figure out something more useful/challenging/spiritual-growth-inducing. (Suggestions welcome!)


YOU, however, may find giving up thrift shopping or shopping in general to be the perfect Lenten discipline this year.  If so, I say, congrats and good luck!  For inspiration, check out the comments on The Vivienne Files’ post re: her decision to cease shopping for a YEAR (although she did allow herself to buy secondhand…so maybe it’s not the perfect inspiration for readers of a thrifting blog).

Miss Minimalist’s Real Life Minimalists series also has lots of great profiles where folks gave up shopping-as-hobby for a period of time (or forever) and found ample rewards in spirituality, time, happiness, bank account levels, etc.


What about you?  Has thrifting ever been something that’s gotten in the way of what’s important in your life, or become an unhealthy go-to in times of stress?  Scroll down to share!  And no shame—after all, I just admitted on a public blog that I used to be addicted to  :)

And to those who observe it: may Lent draw you closer to your Creator and help you grow in all sorts of good ways.


See ya Thursday!




Friday ReBlog: The Spirituality of Capsule Wardrobes

If you know me in real life, you know I have a fascination with mom bloggers from more conservative strains of religion. I’ve always been interested in how people live their faith out in daily life, and for better or worse, conservative voices tend to be more public about their spiritual lives. (Something to do with evangelism, methinks.)

Mormons, Orthodox Jews, devout Catholics of a conservative bent…if they’re well written I love their blogs, even when I disagree (sometimes strongly) with their theology.

For one, I get to read spiritual takes on things like capsule wardrobes—ain’t nobody with a secular style blog going to write about paring down their pants collection as an exercise in religious devotion.  (Okay I guess *I* could do that.  Since I’m a pastor and all.  Note to self.)

After last week’s epiphany that I need to let a mentality of abundance, not scarcity, rule my closet, I came across a 2014 post by Kendra of Catholic All Year on her fall capsule wardrobe (should be timely for you Southern Hemisphere residents!).  The colors and photos are gorgeous, and after acknowledging first world problems and that “we live under the yoke of luxury,” she nails it in the last big paragraph. (I’d paste it here but I don’t know what her policy is re: cuttin’ and pastin’.)


Have a thriftalicious weekend, Thrifters!

Scroll down to let me know if you would like to see a progressive Christian take on thrifting or if you’re just here for the clothes.  And bad puns.



Radical Wardrobe Love

Ya might be sick of my wardrobe capsule shenanigans by now (original here; updates here, here, and here).

But if you’re not…

Since it was my first capsule wardrobe, it’s not surprising it took some tweaking to get it right (see those 3 updates above!).  When all was said and done I decided to just keep what I thrill to put on. Which was sort of the point in the first place.

At least I got there in the end!

So here is the aforementioned experiment in radical wardrobe love in which I get rid of every winter item I don’t THRILL to put on. Continue reading “Radical Wardrobe Love”

Friday ReBlog: Mom Style Winter Capsule Wardrobe

Jaana at This Mom’s Gonna Snap is a funky, funny, photography-loving mom to Stevie (which I’m pretty sure is the coolest name ever).  She blogs about their adventures together, her “momdrobe” (mom + wardrobe = momdrobe), and the challenges of parenting-while-introverted/parenting a kiddo with special needs.

She recently posted about her revamped capsule wardrobe: thanks to living in LA with tiny 1928 closets, she has consolidated everything into just a single capsule (in my head I am calling this One Wardrobe to Rule Them All).  And she’s transitioning from fast fashion addiction to slow style, sharing her experience along the way.


If you’re ready to snort into you coffee and enjoy bright, sunny photos about potty training, funerals, and Universal Studios, this blog’s for you.

Happy Weekend, Thrifters!


Winter Capsule Wardrobe Update, Part 3: Tops

Part the Third—and final! (Part 1 and Part 2.)

Winter capsule wardrobe -update

Today: Tops/Blazers.

I did not buy any new shirts, per se.

But I did buy a new sweater.  And replaced an old blazer with one I like better.  (See: thrift upgrade.)

The Harvé Benard blazer from my winter capsule wardrobe video?  It looked chic but also kind of stiff…too corporate with most of my less-serious stuff.  For example:

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

What are those sassy top & skirt doing with that starched blazer??       So I found something with more give, more softness—oh, and the ability to move my shoulders with complete freedom instead of feeling like Tommy Boy: IMG_3101 It’s wool, it’s knit, and I need to remove a few pills.  Perfect!   It just looks more comfortable, more friendly, no? IMG_3092 Definitely more me.   I figured this out by thinking about what I love about my other go-to blazer, the one for which I actually reach on a regular basis: 

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

Soft, has give, feels good on.

Glad that upgrade has been thrifted.  Sorry, Harvé Benard.  It wasn’t you….okay, well, it was.  Maybe next time.


I haven’t been as jazzed about the blue/grey/coral/white sweater as I thought I would.  I sort of make myself put it on like you eat All Bran—because it’s good for you.  The pattern is fun and they are good colors but it doesn’t feel very dynamic with non-jean work pants.

Here, me and sweater in happier days:

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on


Really I’m just not in love with any of my sweaters except my grey leopard print.

So I nabbed this one whilst heading to the cash register at the Goodwill with a few houseware-related purchases:


Wearing the pants I just ambivalized in yesterday’s post


Not in love with this sweater either but slightly more excited to wear it.


What I’m learning here is that I SHOULD NOT BUY SOMETHING UNLESS I LOVE IT.

Because eventually mediocre attraction to a piece of clothing will out, and you’ll find yourself thrust right back into the cycle of “I need something BETTER in my closet”—the very merry-go-round from which I was trying to disembark in the first place.

DO NOT BUY UNLESS YOU LOVE sounds so simple, and really is the whole point of a capsule wardrobe.  So you’d think I would’ve avoided this problem in the beginning by following my own capsule-building rules.

But I think I was worried about having enough—enough tops/pants, enough combinations, enough variety.  Surely two skirts will exponentially multiply the versatility of my capsule wardrobe??


Living with an attitude of scarcity over abundance never leads to happiness in other areas of my life; rationalizing and catering to all my fears about “enough” leaves me dissatisfied in a way that loving (smaller amounts of) what I have doesn’t.

So maybe in the next week or two I will try an experiment in radical wardrobe love and get rid of every winter item I don’t THRILL to put on.  I’ll just embrace the feeling of sartorial (hopefully not actual) nakedness and, I bet, discover I can live just fine with only things I love.


What about you?  Do you have tips for/stories about stepping off the cliff and only owning what you LOVE?  Scroll down to comment!




Winter Capsule Wardrobe Update, Part 2: Pants

Just what you’ve always wanted, a multi-part capsule wardrobe update!

Winter capsule wardrobe -update

Today: Pants.

So the goal for my winter capsule wardrobe project was to come up with a finite number of mix-and-match pieces I love, designed to get me through the season without shopping more or spending mornings in front of my closet groaning that I had nothing to wear.

Emphasis on the “pieces I love”: not just in theory, but in reality.  Like reach-for-this-and-put-it-on-my-body-with-EXCITEMENT reality.

My winter pants have been somewhat lacking in that department.

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

Don’t let my expression fool you; it’s more about the full-length mirror than the pants. Continue reading “Winter Capsule Wardrobe Update, Part 2: Pants”

Winter Capsule Wardrobe Update, Part 1: Skirts

Winter capsule wardrobe -updateIt’s time for an update on my winter capsule wardrobe project. You may recall that in December (when it finally got cold here in the South) I set up a capsule wardrobe: a finite number of mix-and-match pieces I love, designed to get me through the season without shopping more or spending mornings in front of my closet groaning that I had nothing to wear.

So how am I doing in my quest to get more out of the clothing I already own?

Continue reading “Winter Capsule Wardrobe Update, Part 1: Skirts”

What I Wore: Preaching in January

Hello Thrifters!

My sincerely warm thoughts go out to all y’all up to your eyeballs in snow up North. Meanwhile, it’s chilly but sunny here in Georgia where the “snow closure” on Friday ended up consisting of rain followed by Saturday morning flakes that barely dusted the grass.


This is what I wore to preach yesterday–I haven’t done a proper outfit post in awhile and I thought you’d like to see how some of my winter staples are working together:

IMG_3092 Continue reading “What I Wore: Preaching in January”