This is part 1 of my 5 part series entitled “My Made in USA Wardrobe”. Click here for all the parts in this series.
2 years ago I made a resolution: buy only USA Made or thrifted clothes for a whole year.
I made a New Years resolution in two years ago. My resolution was this: for a whole year, I would only replenish my wardrobe with clothes that were Made in the USA or thrifted. My clothes have always been important to me; but it wasn’t until 2018 that I began seriously thinking about where these clothes came from and how they were made. My Purposeful Wardrobe Resolution has changed my perspective, my lifestyle, and the way I run my business. For sake of total transparency, I have to say I kept my resolution to about a level of 80%; I did buy a few items off the rack that year. Overall, though, this resolution has evolved into a lifestyle for me. 2018 was the year I began shopping on purpose.
So here are the “rules” I set for myself during my challenge. My new clothes had to be one of the following:
- Made in the USA
- Thrifted (aka, second hand)
- Gifted to me. (People know me, they buy me clothes for my birthday. I can’t refuse.)
So, basically, Made in the USA, thrifted, or gifted was my “new clothes criteria”.
It goes way back…
I believe God gives each one of us different interests. Fashion is a major one for me. When I was 10, I started a side-hustle so I’d have the spending money to for that perfect outfit from the mall. By the time I was 13 I was spending almost all of my free time on my moms sewing machine. I’d make my own clothing and experiment with different designs. When I graduated Highschool, I went to work full time to develop my own line of Made in USA Baby and Children’s clothing: Gracious May! My sisters tease me about my weakness for faux fur, and I recall significant events by outfit rather than date. The day I got my braces off: dip-dyed cardigan, white empire top, and wide leg jeans. Case and point.
Large or small, I believe we have the responsibility to use our gifts in a way that glorifies God. No matter how materialistic a love for fashion, faux fur, and fringe boots may seem, I believe it can be used to glorify God. The Bible says that whatever we do, we are to do it all to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). When I determined to change the way I shopped 2 years ago, I made it my aim to start shopping on purpose. I was tired of being lead by impulse and trend. I wanted to start shopping with a “why” behind my buy. I wanted that “why” to be more than a flash sale.
With my 2018 wardrobe resolution, I wanted to know where my money was going and how it was impacted the people I bought from. This put me on the hunt for sustainable clothing brands with real stories and “real people” behind them. I honestly wanted to step up and support people like myself. It makes a huge impact when my customers loyally support Gracious May. I wanted to give that same support to other made in the USA clothing brands like my own.
When I made the resolution to buy only Made in the USA or thrifted clothes for a whole year, I had been running Gracious May for almost 9 years. On a daily basis I would tell people how important it was to “shop small”, “buy made in the USA products”, and “invest in local business”. When it came to my own shopping practices, though, I fell short (I know, major confession, right!). When I made the resolution to only replenish my wardrobe with Made in the USA Clothes, it was in part because I wanted to start practicing what I preached.
Practically speaking, when we buy made in the USA, it is easier to ensure they are being produced ethically. It became important to me to know that the people who made my clothing were being treated fairly. I wanted to make sure the people who made what I wore were happy and note being taken advantage of. This is just is easier to do this when your clothes are made in a US factory rather than overseas.
Another reason for my Purposeful Wardrobe resolution was that I was burnt by the quality most major retailers were producing. With fast fashion taking over the apparel industry, quality has taken a serious nosedive. I would grab a shirt off the rack and it felt as thin as the Kleenex on my coffee table. I’d feel it and cringe, knowing it would fall apart after one trip through my washer and dryer. I had become tired of spending my money on this stuff. I wanted clothes that were built better than this. What’s more is that there was no value or character in this clothing beyond a flashy trend. I felt in my gut that a wardrobe could be something more meaningful than following a trend.
But where does the “thrifted” part come in?
So I have explained the “Made in USA” part of my wardrobe resolution, but where does the “thrifted“ part come in? I’ll tell you. Before Gracious May became a full time job, I ran a small vintage and second hand resale business. I’d hunt down second hand clothes, clean them up, and resell them in my little resale shop. It was a thrill to unearth forgotten gems and give them a second chance to shine. When a piece of clothing still looks great after serving it’s first owner, it was created with thought and purpose. Vintage clothes speak of a day when wardrobes were built for people rather than fads. This clothing has always been a part of my life so it fell seamlessly into my wardrobe resolution.
So this is part one, telling you where it all began for me. This resolution turned lifestyle has been such an eye opener. It has shown me that every action has a ripple effect. When we buy clothes, we are being a tiny rudder for change in one direction or another. We are telling the world how we want it to run. If we continue to buy clothes that have been manufactured unethically, we are telling the world that it is okay to treat people poorly.
I have to be honest: I had my ups and downs in keeping this resolution. I did buy a few items off the rack in 2018. But the goal remained and, despite a few failures, I picked up and moved on with that vision before me. Buying Made in the USA clothes and shoes has become a lifestyle that outlived my 2018 resolution. I am on a journey toward a purposeful wardrobe; a wardrobe that transcended trends and make a positive impact on the world around me.
Stay tuned for part 2…
Thanks for joining me!
Grace // Co-owner and founder of the Gracious May Marketplace
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21
References and further reads: Made in the USA Clothing Statistics // 60,000 U.S. Manufacturing Facilities closed since 2001 // Only 2% of clothing worn in the USA is Made in the USA // Americans Throw away 14 million tons of clothes per year