Eccentric, eclectic, and elegant are how I describe my style. But this was not the case before I started shopping in secondhand stores. Coming from a very rural community, showing off my bold and edgy style was frowned upon; however, after getting to college, I began finding a voice through stores like Goodwill. I bet you are wondering how a store can help you find your voice. Well. I am going to tell you. Goodwill helped me find my voice in three distinct ways.

I. Ownership

Before shopping at Goodwill, I would describe my style as over-masculine and baggy. This was not me all.

I never felt comfortable in my clothes. I had parents and a family that told me how to dress, and my opinion did not matter much in adornment. I did not have a voice in what I wore and what my style was allowed to be. After I began shopping at Goodwill, how I was being involved in my fashion choices changed. I started to understand how, when it comes to what I put on my body, I have ownership over it. Too often, young adults drown out their style to make others happy, and they do not know they can be stewards of their style. Goodwill, when I entered its walls, helped me see the freedom that can live within clothes. I began to see clothes in a different light, one wherein which, I did not see them as chain or chore. Goodwill has helped me learn a very value lesson: Own your clothes, do not let them own you.

Challenge 1: How do you want to own your clothes?

II. Silhouettes & Craftsmanship

Outside of ownership, over the last few years of shopping at Goodwill has shown me the importance of the silhouettes and craftsmanship of clothes. Before, I did not care how a piece of clothing was made, how it hit the body, nor its history. But, Goodwill has shown me the value of knowing these things. Every Goodwill, I have walked into over the last few years has its own story and flow. By that same vein, so does the clothing. That is one of my favorite things about Goodwill. I have learned to have an appreciation for the stitching, buttons, color schemes, etc. of the clothes I buy. I have begun taking more time to learn the history of brands that I initially did not know anything about. While many think that as long as the clothes are cute, that is all that is matters, I have learned that is not the sole case for clothing. Why yes, your clothes should be cute, how they are made, and how they fit your body is just as important.

Challenge 2: Before you buy your next piece of clothing, think about how the clothes you are made and fit?

III. Creativity

Finally, besides learning about how the clothes I buy from Goodwill are made, Goodwill has shown me how to be creative with clothes. I have learned that clothes are way more than meets the eye. Clothes can be styled, paired, and worn in a myriad of ways if time is taken to think about them critically. When I began my Goodwill journey, I had a very linear understanding of clothing. But, I have come to see that clothes can tell a story and be what you make them. I have created clothing styles that help me communicate who I am, how I think, and how I see fashion. Goodwill is a fantastic place to begin your journey to how you think about clothes. It can help you see that clothes genuinely are what you make them. Clothes can be as creative as you make it. Creativity, fun, and passion all can manifest through what you wear. Don’t limit your thinking about clothes to solely being about what meets the eye. Goodwill can show you what you did not expect.

Challenge: How can you be more creative with your clothing?

Xavier (Zay) is a fashion educator who teaches people how to Slay Responsibly when it comes to handbags, fashion, pre-loved items, and brands. He helps people realize they have more power when it comes to handbags and luxury than they think. Zay lives in the Washington, DC area, is a P.h.D student studying strategic communication, identifies as nonbinary, and is self-proclaimed baghead!