Tea Set at Hangers of Hope

The Industry of Thrift

In the last ten years, thrift stores like Hangers of Hope have grown in popularity, aligning with the recovery from the Great Recession. Thrifting has become cool; bargain vintage has become a point of pride for young people, spurring on the age of the ‘hipster.’ People began realizing that they could find high quality items at discount prices at stores like Hangers of Hope.. In a time when money is tight for so many and value easily identified with one Google search, thrift shops are able to cater to all sectors of the population.

Posts on this blog will focus around thrifting, Hangers of Hope, tips of the trade from thrifters, trending topics in thrift, and reasons why thrifting is still relevant in the fast fashion age. I hope you thoroughly enjoy yourself here, learn something new, and stick around for more adventures in thrifting.

Over the last ten years, thrift store sales have increased by 50%, resellers are thriving even as more traditional retailers struggle to avoid bankruptcy. In fact, thrift establishments frequently look like normal retailers, only distinguishable by low prices. Somewhere between 16 and 18 percent of shoppers visit thrift stores annually, making it a $17 billion industry, $5.37 billion of which goes to charity thrift shops like Hangers each year.

Charity thrift shops allow shoppers to have an additional avenue for giving, and receiving (in my case, far too many beautiful shoes), while contributing to a charity of their choice! Unfortunately, some thrift stores have somewhat misleading and tenuous relationships with their partner charities. At Hangers of Hope, you can be sure that your dollars not only buy you great clothes, home goods, and vintage, items inexpensively, they also benefit the Bethesda Health Clinic that provides affordable health care to the working under and uninsured, saving the community money and improving quality of life for patients.

Happy thrifting friends!

The most important life question you need to ask yourself…when cleaning out your closet.

For as long as I can remember, there has been a series of go-to questions to use when deciding what will stay and what will go when cleaning out the bedroom closet. Have you worn it in 6 months? Is it still in style? etc, etc.


But as I have gotten older, I’ve realized that some of these common questions completely ignore you as an individual. For example, the question of whether it is still “in style”. The problem with this question is that it assumes that current fashion trends are the benchmark with which you need to base all of your fashion choices on.


This is a ridiculous.


Your benchmark should always be YOUR personal style. If you love big shoulder pads, tie-die t-shirts, poodle skirts or anything else that may not be currently considered fashionable by the mainstream, then you need to keep those items and strut your stuff with confidence. Separately, you can also just wait 6 months because as Justin Timberlake says, “what goes around, goes around, goes around, comes all the way back around”. And so is true with fashion.


So here is the single question that I have adopted and used for the last few years when cleaning my own closet:


When I wear this, do I feel confident and beautiful?


This simple question came to me a few years ago when I was thinking about my personal dream closet. For many of us, our dream closets are filled with lots of beautiful clothes and rows upon rows of shoes, and a personal stylist who presents us with options daily, and…you know what I mean.


Anyway, one day I realized that it wasn’t about having a lot of clothes and shoes. Ok, nevermind, I still want a lot of clothes and shoes. But more importantly, I wanted a closet filled only with things that I felt fabulous in.


In other words, I would never have another “I have nothing to wear” day. Can you imagine just walking into your closet, picking something at random and knowing that you are going to look and feel great?


From that moment, this dream became the objective of every closet cleaning for me. And I can honestly say that today, I love everything I own, including worn-out sweatshirts I have had since high school. Who cares if they’re really old? I love them and I feel fabulous when wearing them.


So here is my challenge to you.


The next time that you are cleaning out your closet, ask yourself whether you feel confident and beautiful for each item. And if the answer is no, get rid of it immediately (sell, donate, etc). No exceptions.


You may find that this sounds simple, but is more difficult in practice. So to help, here are the two common excuses that I personally encountered when starting to use this methodology.


Common Excuse #1: But it’s cute…

True story, I had this adorable top that I loved and it looked great on…except when I made any movement whatsoever. Every time I moved, the shirt shifted and hung weird on my shoulders. Meaning it was constantly a problem because I am not a statue. So while I loved the top itself, I didn’t feel confident or beautiful because I was too busy feeling really self-conscious.


Lesson to be learned: loving your clothes is not the same as loving how you look in your clothes. Your goal should be to achieve both.


Common Excuse #2: This doesn’t fit now, but one day…

First, I am a full supporter of having “goal” clothes that you want to wear in the future. But limit them to 1…maybe 2…actually, no, just 1. Why? Because you should love yourself and feel confident and beautiful no matter what your current size.


I fully embrace the philosophy that choosing to be healthy should not be because you hate your body, but because you love your body. Meaning when you choose to make a health change, you are doing it because your body is a priority and you want to treat it well by feeding it nutritious food and keeping it active. And not because you loathe how you look compared to some society standard of beauty. So why on earth would you want to keep a closet full of clothes that tell you and your body that you are not good/pretty/thin enough yet??


Another true story. I had a goal dress. When I first bought it, it was already too small, but it was the only one left at the store and I needed something quick for a wedding. Cut to a few short years later and a few extra pounds heavier, I couldn’t even zip up the dress. So it became a goal. I changed the way I was eating, started a consistent exercise routine, and after 6 months I was able to fit into that dress. Funny thing was, while it fit, it wasn’t really my style anymore. So I donated it.


Lesson to be learned: it is great to have goal clothes, but don’t go nuts. Be proud and confident of who you are at every stage of your body transformation. Not just at the end.


So there it is. The single most important question you can ask yourself when cleaning out your closet. I encourage and challenge you to see how this question works for you during your next closet cleaning endeavor. And I would love to hear how it worked for you and what excuses you had to overcome.


Until then, stay beautiful and fabulous.

Your friendly neighborhood Hangers of Hope guest blogger,