The True Cost

I wasn’t always into clothes. I grew up dressing as much as a tom boy that I could get away with, hating dresses and finding much more delight in hitting thrift stores with my mother searching for weird funky t-shirts and “old lady” clothes than anything that could be found at the mall.  Reference any high school pictures of me and you will see, a "fashionista" I was not.

I thought my thrifted, quirky ensembles were pretty sweet. I also didn't have the money for much else.

Something changed as I got older, and I blame a 3 year stint working in the “fashion world”.  All of the sudden I was around fashionable people, taking trips to NYC and Miami, meeting designers and going to fashions shows. I felt the pressure to up my wardrobe game.  I had always liked clothes and putting outfits together, but my tastes had changed, and although I still went to vintage shops and thrift stores that I loved, I discovered fast trend fashion and I was hooked.

Long before we had H&M here in Orlando, my trips to visit my brother in Philadelphia always meant leaving room in my luggage for all the shopping I would do there. H&M had not one, but two locations near his apartment and I squealed with delight as I gorged on pieces that weren’t just cute and trendy, but most importantly cheap.

My trips to places like Zara, Forever 21, and H&M became more frequent and I started to feel the pangs of longer, grungier, not so visually stimulating trips to thrift stores where you either scored a few awesome items after searching or wasted an hour combing the racks to come up with nothing but dry dirty hands reaching for the sanitizer.

Fast fashion gave me immediate satisfaction. You walk in the door with bright lights and loud music bumping and see eye candy immediately.  You don't even have to search, everything is neatly hanging and folded waiting for you.

In the event that your size has already been picked over and all that is left is the zeros and two's, you can just go to their website and buy it from their massive warehouse. The sales staff will even do it for you sometimes! Everything you want is just a click away.

All the closets in any house we lived in were taken over by my always growing wardrobe. Yellow XXI bags constantly littered the floor of my bedroom and I knew I had a bit of a problem, but I would never admit it.  My husband would find clothing tags in every nook and cranny of our home, shake his head, but like a smart man say nothing.

Every now and then I would see articles about sweat shops and poor working conditions, with some of these retailers being mentioned and it bothered me, but it didn’t bother me enough to give up my habit.

That all changed when I recently watched The True Cost.


I don’t want to tell you what information is in the movie, because you should watch it yourself, but the detail it provided went beyond anything that I could have imagined in terms of the implications that fast fashion in particular is having on not only developing countries but our environment.

If you are not familiar with the term "fast fashion", it is used by fashion retailers to express that designs move from catwalk quickly in order to capture current fashion trends.  That's why you can visit a Forever 21 twice in one week and see brand new items.  New inventory is constant.

I watch documentaries often, but never one that so blatantly pointed out that I was a part of the problem.  So many terrible consequences, and for what, so I can wear a shirt that cost me $12.95 a few times and then give away? Or even worse give to Goodwill when in reality it ends up in a huge non-biodegradable landfill giving off toxic fumes.

Even more interesting is knowing how many people use social media to promote themselves and what they wear, which there is nothing wrong with; except for the fact that they are just fueling the fire for other girls to continue the trend to buy these cheap clothes so they can mirror these perfectly dreamy photos that we see every day.

I even had  periodically started using Social Media to share my outfits like hundreds of thousands of other girls do.

Not a lot of actual content comes from these fashion bloggers and You Tubers. Everything is dedicated to getting people to buy what you are wearing, and some powerful icons are making money off of these ventures. Be cute, get paid.

It’s been a month since I have stepped foot into a Zara, Forever 21, or H&M. The last time I went to the mall I looked up at the big red letters and my stomach turned.  What use to be the first place I would excitedly run into leaving my husband behind in the dust, has now become a grim reminder of all the information I am now armed with when making my retail decisions.

So after you watch this documentary (it's on Netflix, stop re-watching The Office and go watch it now) and purge your closet, where can you shop when you need something? There are quite a few places in Orlando that you can buy second hand clothes from, so here are some of my favorite spots.

Etolie Boutique

Located in Milk District, this is one of my favorite spots in Orlando to get vintage clothes.  The great thing about Fallon, the owner, is that she gets that we girls want vintage clothes that fit our bodies. There is nothing worse than seeing a rack of perfect dresses and they are all too small.  I almost never leave empty handed here.  The prices are reasonable, and there is tailoring available if you need something of our owned  adjusted or a piece you find in the shop.

Every Tuesday, everything in the store is 10% off for Tasty Tuesdays.

Photo Credit: Orlando Weekly

Dechoes Resale

Owner Kerri Colangelo has three Dechoes locations in Orlando full of vintage and other resale items. Her stores are colorful and fun, and if you are looking for high end designer brands they are always getting new items in.  They have a really fun Instagram account to follow as well. Photo Credit: Orlando Magazine

The Lovely Boutique

The Lovely Boutique recently opened in Audubon Park and is aimed to promoting and selling the works of local artisans and vintage collectors. This includes much more than just clothes, but some really cool threads can be found here.

Photo Credit: Orlando Weekly

Deja Vu Clothing

Robin Krentcil, owner of Déjà Vu Vintage Clothing, is about as legit as they come when looking for Vintage in Orlando.  It's a wonderland of amazing pieces and you want to give yourself a decent amount of time to explore all the nooks and crannies.  The location has moved from Ivanhood to Winter Park near the Krispy Kreme (score!).

Photo Credit: Orlando Weekly

That is really just scratching the surface.  Other shops include and Owl's Attic. Not to mention the countless Goodwill's and other smaller thrift stores we have to visit. Also, from a sustainability aspect there are many websites of online stores that promote fair trade and eco-friendly clothing.  It's just taking the time to do the research.

So next time you decide to treat yourself with a day of shopping, think about everything that comes along with that cheap price tag before you buy.