Sustainability + Thrifting | My Recent Goodwill Finds

Since I was in high school, I have discovered some of my favorite pieces at thrift stores. At some point between now and when I was in college (at which point I relied almost 100 percent on thrift store finds), I lost my thrifting touch — until a few weeks ago, when I remembered just how much I loved it.

Shopping sustainably can be an overwhelming task, especially in the financial department. But it really doesn’t have to be. Thankfully, buying secondhand is a super cost-effective way to shop sustainably. Thrifting helps repurpose someone else’s discarded items and gives them a whole new life they wouldn’t have otherwise had. It’s making use of what is already made rather than bringing more clothing into the world. Plus, you can often find some high-quality/rare vintage gems at a thrift store! That’s when the true magic happens.

As mentioned, I renewed my passion for thrifting a few weeks ago when I went to Goodwill with two of my friends, Taylor (@taylor_made_style) and Meaghan (@meaghanmcbell) — who are thrifting gurus...and just generally fun humans to be around. After that experience (and spending four+ hours at Goodwill), I would highly recommend thrifting with friends. It was so fun to show each other what we thought the others would like, especially since we each have very different styles. We kept finding pieces for each other and sharing our finds.

Not to be dramatic, but I have never had so much success at a thrift store in my life. I think it was a combination of this particular store (this Goodwill in Madison, for you Nashville folks) having an incredible selection, our teamwork, and like I said, the four hours we spent there. If you’ve spent any amount of time in a thrift or consignment store, you know thrifting can take quite a bit of patience and perseverance.

I found tons of basics for fall and winter, especially some sweaters — which I was severely lacking in. All in all, I got 24 items (including the brown shoes you’ll see below) and spent a total of $120. I think every single item, from the shoes to the Levi’s I found, was $5. What?!

But you may be wondering where all this is going to go and how I can claim to be a “minimalist” after adding 20+ new pieces to my wardrobe in one day. Truthfully, I try to steer clear from the temptation to count items or stick to a certain number in my closet. I think counting can miss the point of minimalism entirely — and create unnecessary competition. However, I did declutter significantly after my thrifting trip and ended up donating about as much or maybe more than what I brought in. Filling in some gaps (especially in the cold weather department) allowed me to part with some things I wasn’t super fond of.

I was able to document nearly all of what I got that day, thanks to my new friend, Macy Pate (@macypate). Macy is a talented photographer based in Nashville — and she happened to go to Harding as well! She was so patient with me as I changed in and out of outfits, and she captured everything perfectly. I left out a vintage baby pink button-up, a blue sweatshirt and a pencil skirt — because frankly, this was a lot to go through and I didn’t feel like incorporating a businessy look or a loungey one. Oh! And I found an amazing olive green blazer that I cannot wait to whip out when the temperature drops again.

Other than those pieces, here’s everything I found:


This vintage dress needs some help in the hem, but I love it! It’s clear that it used to be a full-length dress and the previous owner cut it at the knee super roughly. Anyone know how to hem?! (Kind of kidding, kind of serious…)

You can’t tell but this shirt is a ultra-thin, almost slinky feel. It’s also very long, so I tuck it into jeans each time I wear it. It’s a great basic — and light blue has become one of my favorite pops of subtle color.

I found this old-school camel sweater that I’ve worn several times now. The turtleneck adds so much warmth.

This was an exciting find! This gold sweater/shirt is even more sparkly in person. It’s perfect for the holiday season; I could see myself wearing this tucked into a skirt or even over a dress like I used to do in college.

If you know me, you know my obsession with velvet is real. So this velvet plum top was a must! I can’t wait to wear it more this winter.

Another good find. I struck gold in the short-sleeve/sleeveless sweater department. And apparently baby blue!

Ha! Secret: I forgot to take the shoulder pads out of this top before this shoot, so we attempted to hide the broad shoulders with this aerial shot. I wish I moved my hair so you could see the buttons; this silky shirt is so grandma-ish and I love it. Also, one of my favorite finds: these brown shoes! They are Enzo Angiolini and it honestly looked like no one had ever put a foot inside them. I know people get grossed out by shoes from thrift stores, but a) these looked brand new and b) I wear those no-show socks with them to curb any grossness.

Excuse the mini-photoshoot just with this one outfit, but I am soooooo into this denim piece (and the top underneath for that matter). It honestly looks like I got it from a high-end sustainable company in 2018, when a soccer mom probably wore it in 1998. This was one of my favorite finds! The oversized fit, the material, the pockets — ahhh.

Here’s a better look at the top I was wearing underneath. I love this color for fall (doesn’t everyone?!) and I need some more form-fitted pieces in my wardrobe, that’s for sure.

Okay, enter: these Levi’s! They’re a tad big, but I kind of love that. I estimate that I’ve worn these 20 times since I got them, so they have already gotten so much use. And I’m determined to wash these less frequently to get more life out of them. And can we talk about this t-shirt? It’s camel/orange-y, black and white stripes, and it has a soft and comfortable worn-in feel. Again, I have worn that shirt more times than I can count.

This olive-y/tan (does someone have a better word for that color? Please help!) sweater is super soft, and honestly, makes me feel like I regularly use the phrase, “Where should we go on holiday?” And again, I scored on short-sleeved sweaters — including this white one. It’s a bit big, so I like doing a French tuck to make it a little more fitted in the front. This piece works well as a layer under big coats or a blazer.

This is Brandon’s favorite thing from my shopping trip! I have a long and colorful history with oversized men’s sweaters, so of course I had to get something like this. It’s from the women’s section, but arguably may be a men’s sweater. Either way, I’m so into it.

This white sweater works with everything. And how fun are these black velvet pants? (The Adidas sneakers and white Everlane t-shirt were not thrifted!)

This black tank is another thick sweater material. I wish I showed off the bottom; it cinches up right around my belly button, which is the best optical illusion for a long torso-ed individual like myself. My fellow long torso people understand exactly what I’m talking about. And can we talk about these mustard yellow wool J. Crew pants?! They are a bit baggy but I am embracing the oversized look. Again, these black Nisolo boots were not thrifted!

How incredible is this black romper? It fits like a glove, which again, can be a difficult task when you have a long torso. I’m excited to wear this thing year-round — just like you see it in the spring and summer and with tights and a big coat in the fall and winter. It can be dressed up and dressed down so easily.

All photography by Macy Pate Photography.