168 - Ponytail & Miniskirt

Jacket - Vintage, Overshirt - Vintage, Zipper Miniskirt - Vintage (it was a children's size 7...WTF child should ever be wearing a faux leather zip-off mini skirt?), Creepers - Anarchic via eBay, Velvet Bustier - Urban Outfitters, Jewelry - Unearthen & JFR & Flea Market & eBay & Gift from Mom

This is probably one of my favorite outfits (which means it will get like 2 hypes on Lookbook). I have worn it three times since January, each time thinking that it would be a good day to take blog photos. However, since I'm pretty helpless on the blog photo front, I was never able to cajole a loved one into photographing it, until...SUCCESS. I think I like it so much because in theory it should be a totally different kind of look. Ponytail, mini-skirt, crop top? I should look like a cheerleader or something.

Also, I should credit my dogs for tearing every hole in these tights with their adorable jumping and goofy paws and whatnot. They are true aesthetic taste-makers. 

I wanted to talk briefly about the ethics of buying new clothing. I thought this was a good outfit to use for the post, since 99% of it is vintage, but I did add in a bustier from Urban Outfitters. I think it's a good representation of my wardrobe. I think the "pie" of my apparel shopping habits would break down as follows:

65% = vintage from thrift store or flea market
20% = eBay used items
10% = clothing sponsorships from ye ol' blog
5% = purchased new

Most of my clothing acquisitions are vintage/thrifted for a couple of reasons:

#1 - It is extremely affordable
I love shopping. I freaking love it; I can't help it. In an effort to curb the negative effects of my shopping habits, I instated the $30 rule a couple of years back. Most of you know this rule, but if not, I'll tell you again: if I want something and it's under $30, I'm allowed to just buy it. If it's over $30, I have to think about it until my next paycheck (two weeks). If I still want it by the time my next check rolls around, I'm allowed to get it. There are exceptions to this rule (like on Black Friday last year...I kinda overspent and went crazy, much to my chagrine...or if I buy something at American Apparel), but in general, I abide by it. As a result, thrifting (or shopping at a low-price vintage store or booth at the flea market) is the best way for me to get more "bang for my buck", so to speak. I can get pretty much anything I want from a thrift store.

#2 - It is more ethically sound
Garment production is responsible for a great deal of pollution globally. Furthermore, it can also be responsible for unfair labor conditions and human rights violations. Wearing used clothing helps combat these issues. You are getting more use out of the product, which stretches the natural resources that went into producing it,  and driving down the "demand" for new product to be made. Remember: capitalism thrives off of supply and demand. If you want it, they'll make it. Buying vintage says, "No thanks -- I don't want that much." If more people buy vintage/used, they are purchasing less new clothing, and companies are making less new clothing, therefor contributing less to the global pollution issues or potential human rights violations. 

In addition, if the majority of our wardrobes comes from thrift stores, we may find ourselves more able to spend high-dollar amounts on new "staples" that we find hard to thrift (for me, this is usually jackets, shoes, and a few other key items), meaning that companies which produce new clothing do not have to rely so much on shady practices. If we are able to pay more, they are able to put more money into the production and perhaps will be less likely to cut corners to save costs.

If the demand for used clothing were increased to accommodate this increase in thrift/vintage shopping habits (remember: supply and demand!), it might perhaps be at the forefront of everyone's minds to donate their used clothing rather than just toss it out. Our little cycle of "preloved" would grow exponentially, cutting down on landfill waste.

As a final thought, I am trying to curtail my acquisition of new leather, and buying vintage means that I am not adding to the demand chain for real leather to be produced. 

#3 - It allows you to get really unique schtuff
Thrift/vintage stores are amazing because I never know what I want when I go. It's more about letting a piece speak to you. That, combined with the fact that I am a lot more lax about fit when thrifting, allows me to get some very unique items. I might wear a large shirt as a dress, or open over shorts and a tank top as a fake-out kimono-y thing, or cut pants into shorts. This coupled with item #1 up there (the part about it being so affordable) allows me to take risks with my wardrobe, as there is limited consequence. I'll buy the most nuts-looking thing at the thrift store because if I can work it in to my wardrobe, it's something really special, and if I have it for a while and I can't, all I've wasted is $5 and I can donate it right back.

 All of that said, I know that it is not always realistic for most people to buy 100% of their clothing from a thrift or vintage store. Some troopers out there do it, and that is freaking amazing, but for the average person, it's a process of transition. You are transitioning out of the consumer-driven liftestyle to which you have been accustomed into something that is more sustainable and ultimately more rad. I was raised thrifting, but I still can't shake that strange *need* to add in a few new trend items. I know that's bad -- I should be above that, but it's a reality. 

As a result of that being my reality, I think (I hope?) I am at least more tuned in to what the average person will tolerate. I think that the average person doesn't want to be an extremist. However, if someone like me or Jessica or Brit can influence you to shift your wardrobe even a little bit towards the side of thrift, then I am quite pleased. I personally wish I were less selfish and more able to be extreme in my ethics. They are all there, inside of my brain, sitting comfortably with my notions of conscious spending and consumption, but they don't always make it out when I wander into a big box retailer and ransack their sale section. Knowing myself and my shopping habits, I try to make an effort to curtail that behavior by doing it infrequently. 

Buying new items is tricky because things that are humanely produced tend to carry a high price. Those high prices aren't realistic for most people (sidenote: that's why American Apparel is kind of amazing -- they have tried to make humane production a reality for the average shopper, and that is freaking awesome). I think the trick is balance. 

I think that the worst thing we can do as consumers is buy something just because it is cheap. Nobody wins when we do that. We end up with closets full of cheap clothing that we don't even necessarily love and thus don't wear very often, and stores get the message that we like buying things that are extremely cheap so they keep producing it, cutting corners to get the best deal, and perhaps turning a blind eye to undesirable byproducts of that pursuit of a lower cost. Bottom line: lower costs come at a cost.

When you do go into a trend-oriented store to pick up an item or two to keep your wardrobe updated, remember that you are paying a higher price for that cheap item, and that higher price is usually fair labor for someone else (I'm sure there are environmental implications, too). Again, ideally everything you buy is secondhand or at least ethically produced, but if we are being realistic, try to make it out with just a couple of items from the "sale" section. Make sure those items, though "trendy", are something out of which you will get a lot of use. Make sure you will wear it for more than a season, and when you are done with it, make sure you recycle it by donating it to a thrift store for someone else to use. I would personally rather save up and spend a little more on a basic piece from American Apparel than I would on the same piece from a big-box retailer, for example, because I can trust in the production practices. Again, that isn't always realistic for everyone, but it is something to consider. 

As you see from my breakdown above, the bigger issue for me personally is sponsorships. I take on a lot of clothing sponsors. Most of my "new" clothing comes from these sponsors, and most of that clothing is affordable, which has its bonuses, I feel, for you -- the end consumer. However, with affordable comes the question of how ethically-sound the items sold in that store are. I take on sponsored items with the same qualifications I apply towards any item I purchase new: I only take items I genuinely like, I try to get a lot of wear out of the item, and I donate it when I am "finished". I never accept an item just because it is free.

Anyway, that's about the extent of my little idea cloud on shopping. I think that every year, I get better about being the kind of person I want to be, rather than the kind of person it is easy to be. It's a process, and I'm working through it. I suppose what I would hope is that people establish for themselves what they consider ethical and then work to live under those guidelines. Maybe by the time I'm 50, I'll just live on a farm growing my own cotton and making my own textiles and garments and my fashion blog will just be me frolicking through fields of cotton plants with a pet llama and long braided grey pigtails or something. IDEAL FUTURE.


EDIT: It has come to my attention that some people find it unethical to purchase leather, fur, or unethically-produced apparel even if it is secondhand. I personally find it within my scope of ethics to purchase these items secondhand, as it does not contribute to the supply and demand chain, but it may be worth noting that some people do not.

EDIT EDIT: Okay, so there was this really weird thing that happened in my comments where a reader said one thing and I didn't understand and it was really the first bad comment I've gotten about anything and it kinda hurt my feelings or whatever, then a strange kinda "fight" broke out, and it was very confused and muddled, and negative and bad and gross. I was having a bad day, so I was a dick, and the person wasn't maybe as clear as they could have been, so I misunderstood their point, I think. At any rate, here is the thing: I have proven to myself that I am unable to respond to any amount of negativity in a rational manner. My solution instead is to basically yell "I HATE YOU!" at the computer and pound on the keys, but with A LOT more words, and that just isn't good for anyone. The internet works like this: I tell you what I think, you tell me what you think, and it really should stop there because nothing beyond that tends to be productive. So, in an effort to censor my own horrible impulses (not yours, I promise) and poor decision-making skills, I have decided to start moderating my comments and deleted all of the negative bad schtuff that was previously on this post (NEW START -- LET'S TRY AGAIN, ONLY I WILL BE AN ADULT THIS TIME). This has nothing to do with you -- I am taking on full admission of childlike tendencies here, people. The "bad schtuff" was largely related to the above "EDIT". Should you wish to discuss or talk about it in any capacity, feel free to use my Formspring (best for question-y answer-y things). I will discuss it openly! I only deleted it because I know myself and if it's sitting on my blarg, I won't stop being upset with it because I have strange anxiety issues, and really, the way I handled it before is just downright embarrassing.
Shhh....if I deleted it, we can all pretend it never happened...


  1. Love your jewelry! You mix it so well! I totally agree with you on the $30 rule. I follow it as well and people think I'm so crazy because they're like "$30 isn't alotttttt!" Whatevers. I'm all for getting more bang for my buck which is why the majority of my clothing is from thrift stores also.

  2. Love your ankh necklace+your creepers.

    xoxo - http://cachecloset.blogspot.com/

  3. I wish my shopping habbit was like yours! I do buy tons of stuff from Charity Shops but I think I still buy too much new stuff...
    LOVE the necklaces btw!

    London Last Night

  4. can we please make the last two sentences a reality?

  5. This is (yet again) a GREAT post Madeline! I can't tell you how much of my waredrobe is thrifted or hand me down or vintage or garage sale-d. And I am totally fine with that for the same reasons that you mention here. Those and the history of the items. Obviously, this is mostly from my vintage clothes, but I think each piece has a story with it. I bought some 70's vintage sailor pants last year and they were NEW WITH TAGS!!! I was thinking and thinking to myself "how could these have NEVER been worn/bought before? did someone pull the ole buy them but keep the tags on to return them later stunt? did someone just buy a bunch of crap and forgot they had these decades later and lacked to see their awesome potential?" It's a fun game I play with my clothes. And of course, the cost, environmental and uniqueness aspects do play a lot in why I shop at these places as well.

  6. Love ur creepers, and ur neckles<3

  7. I consider myself a fairly avid thrifter already, but your words motivate me to push myself even farther. I can only hope that non-thrift shoppers will find it equally inspiring.

  8. First I love your outfit and that ideal future of yours sounds freaking amazing "I want to go to there"! Anyhow on to the more pressing point thank you so much for writing this it's something I have been thinking about a lot lately for a number of personal reasons. I am so shocked that that one anonymous reader does not understand that recycling clothing is ALWAYS a really good thing. Really?!? Would it be better for that item to end up in a landfill?!? I know a lot of thrift stores and they are great but do you know what happens to those clothes that no one buys at a thrift store... a lot of the time they still get thrown away and end up in a freaking landfill. As for vintage/second hand leather and fur I see it as a really good thing. I don't buy any new animal fashion products but when it comes to used items I feel bad if I don't buy the item, that animal died for it's skin/fur and I would hate for that to be wasted, do I support killing animals no but if it already died for that purpose at least it can not be for vain! Once an item has been donated to a thrift store I no longer think of it as being whatever brand it was originally from, it is now a recycled item that I am saving from a landfill. I am still in shock about that comment about it being bad to recycle. I am a hard core thrifter like I literally have less then 30 new items that I have purchased for myself in my closet and that is including shoes and jewelery, it is a beautiful thing that you are supporting thrift/vintage clothing so many people that were not raised that way are happy to learn how amazing second hand shopping can be! Keep doing your amazing thing and don't let ignorant hatters get you down!



  9. I agree! I agree! My pie chart is unfortunately still 50% new, 10% thrift/second hand, and 40% vintage. But I am really trying hard :) Sometimes the problem is finding the right vintage clothing in your size. It's rather disappointing when you find a gorgeous piece but it's too small or far too big that you can't fix it (and my sewing skill is close to zilt!). You look gorgeous, there's a grunge feel to your outfits that I just can't help but adore! You make me think of (I hope don't get offended) Gwen Stefani and Shirley Manson from the early 90s! Rocker chic!

    Nora Finds

  10. I FUCKING LOVE YOU! holy shit


  11. I highly agree with everything you had to say.

  12. i'm all for the pet llama. seriously, you rock for the only 5% new (or i guess 15% if you count the sponsors in that) clothing. Used clothes are really the only way I can reconcile the differences between the environmentalism and fashion aspects of my life.

    YIKES, about that silly anon above. Misguided/completely ridiculous argument, but you knew that already. Oh, internet. I'm also trying to wean myself off of buying new leather, after finding out that the meat from leather cows is wasted, and vice versa.

    lastly: your proper use of the word literally: noted.

  13. Hello Madeline!
    I just saw your tweet, and I don't think you should quit the internet. I haven't spoken to you before because Im a bit of a mute but, I had to mention how influential, and genius you are with words. I totally agree with what you say when you wear your absolute favourite outfit it get like 2 hype, but I what matters the most is staying true to yourself which I find not to many people do these days. anyways my point is what you have is something special and I love your originality. Keep being awesome and I will always be inspired =]

  14. What a great post! I totally agree, by the way-- most of my closet is secondhand clothing, and Ebay. I wouldn't have it any other way. That said, after I started paying attention to blogs or lookbook a little bit more, I started getting a little down on myself about my clothing options, and began to buy more new clothes thinking they were more "fashionable," and have been in a bit of a clothing funk. I just recently returned to buying all secondhand clothing, and donating every article of clothing that I don't need. Your post gave me more incentive to keep going, and not fall into the Zara-H&M-American Apparel trap every again. You're right-- the quality of cheap clothing DOES show. And it's also just plain boring, wearing the same floral Zara blazer as everyone else, you know?
    In any case, you = my new hero.


  15. i loveee ur whole outfit, i just cant get enough of ur hair, its amazinggg! x

  16. I still can't get over how amazing your hair is! The styling of this outfit is perfect! I especially love the layered jewellery and how it gives this look a brilliant finishing touch.

    I completely agree with everything you said about vintage/thrifted clothing. I'd definitely choose second-hand garments over brand new ones any day! Plus I don't necessarily like to look like a clone of everybody else and wear something that everyone and their mother owns. Your posts seem to get better and better; I love them! I really enjoyed reading this one xxx

  17. I agree with a lot of what you have written Madeline, I also disagree with some of it, but I'm not going to begin an argument like the above readers. To be honest, I just can't be bothered, it's past midnight and I'm tired as hell. Plus, I generally try and avoid conflict.

    Anyway, while I think buying recycled is applaudable, I have also recently been feeling quite existential, and I don't really care anymore... about a lot of things. It probably makes me sound like a stone cold, evil, heartless, horrible person. Sometimes, I feel like humanity always trying to make the world a perfect place seems completely pointless. Our existence is going to end eventually (not just us as individuals, the whole species will become extinct, just like every single other species), whether you buy a few things from an op shop, whether you don't, it doesn't really mean anything or matter. Of course purchasing cheap apparel, brand new, contributes to demand and those items are created by people working for barely anything. However, whether there was demand or not, those people would be working with little financial income anyway, just in another industry, because the countries they live in have terrible wages. In fact, high demand of certain nations can force wages up eventually. China has had huge economic growth because of the fact that everything is made in China and apparently it's not that cheap anymore, which is why a lot of brands are finding alternative options these days.

    Personally, I have a few items from thrift stores, I also have a lot of items that are brand new. Actually one of my favourite brands right now is Jones + Jones, they produce and manufacture everything in England, and I also buy a lot from American Apparel. I don't thrift that often anymore because a) I'm an extremely fussy buyer and I find it pretty difficult to find anything decent these days. Thrifting is popular as hell, I live in a pretty 'hipster' city. b) Thrifting in Melbourne is no longer that cheap. The last time I went to an opshop, the only dress I found that I liked cost $60 and then I would have to pay to get it altered so I'd probably be paying about $85 for something second hand. I basically just buy what I happen to like. If I find it in an opshop and it's cheaper, I guess that's a bonus.

    I don't think it's negative that you've tried to encourage people to thrift more, like you stated above, this is your blog, you should be able to discuss whatever you happen to be thinking about. I really like reading your blog btw, you're one of the few (fashion) bloggers who actually discusses interesting topics and begins thoughtful conversations.

  18. Amen. To all you said.

  19. I agree with you completely. Forever 21 is a prime example of 'buying things cheap, but just don't like it as much as you should type thing.' I've wasted so much money there, and it secretly comes back at you. The quality is horrendous. I just can't bring myself to buy anything full price, I'd rather spend $1.49 on jeans at the goodwill and cut them into shorts and have so much more fabric to work with than to buy some overpriced jean (though it may be quality). But it's extremely difficult to find quality. I paid a heavy sum for a pair of Cheap Monday jeans, and just after a month or so they ripped near my upper inner thigh. It was terrible. But I enjoy your point of view, and your hair is fascinating!

  20. I just wanted to thank you for this great video 'ramble on' i just needed to hear that form somebody else that the little voice in my head ;) I'm coming here very often, not commenting a lot, i should correct that!!

  21. you look beautiful! and i agree with what your saying above, i get most of my stuff from charity shops and a few more expensive items i can't resist sometimes! but to be honest from what i've seen from Bloggers in America, your charity shops are much better!

  22. i'm sooo down with you grrl... especially on the "WTF child should ever be wearing a faux leather zip-off mini skirt?" hahaha!?! love this post... reallyreally. did a kind of follow up to this post in my latest post :)

    hope all is well in madelineville!

  23. LOL ditto about the 2 hypes on LB thing, my faves always get the least amount of hypes and the ones I'm like "ehh" about get like hundreds, I guess we just have horrible taste hahaha. I WILL BE IN LA ON THE 23RD, can we meet up?! I have goodies for you! We can take pics! Eat cake! Eat cake & talk shit! Email me re: this. You look amazinnng. xoxo

  24. You are amazing Madeline! Your ethics totally inspire me....and I am horrible with negativity too. I didn't see the comment, but I'd probably respond the same way.

    Anyhow, about 90% of my closet is probably thrifted/used/vintage. Been thrifting since I was little and have gotten more into it the last couple years or so. I did go on a really bad spree last year shopping new online, but I blame the fact I was pregnant and couldn't get my fat ass of the seat to go thrifting, ha. But most every outfit I wear has something used or vintage involved. I dont' know why some people are against it- I find so much amazing stuff, sometimes brand freaking new! And the styles and quality are so much more amazing. Aaaannd you can get way more- I've bought a bagful for $50 which is way better than $50 for one item. My rule is I only try buy something new if I consider it a statement piece, or it is unique, etc. I don't buy $100 jeans, or spend $70 on a shirt just for the big logo on front. My shopping habits are weird sometimes, but I get what you're saying.

    Eh. it's early, don't know if any of what I said made sense. LOVE the green hair- jealous!!

    Beneath the Glass

  25. Ah! this is fabulous. Im doing my case study in college about the benefits of ethical fashion and I must say most of what we have written is the same!
    Keep up the good work x

  26. I really really like your blog. It has so much content. Thanks for yet again this amazing post!