I shop secondhand frequently, about once a week, to stock my Etsy store.
The Dress That Stalks Me
Over the past couple of years I’ve discovered that I often run into repeat pieces in the hoards of clothes I scan while looking for treasures. It’s interesting to note that some designs really missed the mark when they were manufactured. They were alluring enough to purchase but then slipped almost immediately into the donate pile. Sometimes there are design flaws or fit issues. Other times it is one of those pieces you were forced to buy for a special occasion like the dreaded bridesmaid dress.
Do you remember this little video that we made in Talize last year?
Remember that floral dress Patti and Mel were wearing?
That’s my stalker dress!
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen this dress in thrift stores.
These photos are just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve seen it in different stores, cities and provinces.
Oh hello you!
You will never be free of me.
Seriously…this dress is the most purchased and least worn item I’ve come across.
If only we knew the history behind each of these dresses. It would make for a gripping documentary, always the bridesmaid, never the bride.
I’m sure more than one of these dresses got up to some mischief, maybe even broke a few laws on the single day it was worn. Then it was tossed unceremoniously aside like all those other pieces people fell out of love with that wind up at the thrift store.
Why is no one willing to hold onto this dress and wear it again?
It’s not ugly.
In our society obsessed with optics this dress works very well as a single use item.
Manufacturers don’t care anymore that the fabric feels like sandpaper against the skin and doesn’t breathe. As long as it looks attractive they can sell it to the next unsuspecting bride. Single use disposable fashion is killing our planet.
When did esthetics take over common sense?
What started out as a running joke with me and my girlfriends has become a stark example of our ignorance and apathy. The materials and work that went into creating these dresses has value. Those are resources consumed. There is a limit to what our earth can provide and we’ve surpassed it.
This dress isn’t just stalking me, it’s stalking all of us.
If you shop secondhand have you come across single use clothing items? How do they make you feel?
Learn more about fast fashion fast tracking to the landfill here.
Three things you can do to help save the planet.
Linking up with Visible Monday, Turning Heads Tuesday, Fancy Friday, and Spy Girl
Taste of France says
You’re right–it looks good on Patti. The flowers are too big for my taste, and, well, I can’t imagine choosing it except under duress, like it’s been assigned by a bride. But what you say about the fabric makes it truly hopeless.
At one dead mall in my hometown, a department store has been turned into a poorly lit, chaotic depot of rejects. One last try, 50-90% off, before it goes to the landfill. There are racks of the same tops and no matter how cheap they aren’t worth it. Badly cut, icky fabric, some kind of design disaster like gaudy baubles or bows or whatever. I would wonder whether the buyer who had ordered them was fired for such a big fail.
The argument some make against buying second-hand is that it will doom the economy. The global economy right now is a huge Ponzi scheme in which population and consumption have to keep rising in order to notch increases in profits and the stock market, and of course to create jobs (that pay less and less). I think that’s just wrong. We are living in a house that is falling apart and instead of doing maintenance we are spending all our money on clothes, decoration and eating out. If we dedicated most of that wasteful consumption instead into fixing up our global home, making it more sustainable and gentler on the environment, we would still be stimulating the economy. More is not better. That dress did not make the world a better place.
suzanne carillo says
One thing is clear, our current capitalist system based on consumption and endless growth does not work. It’s an unsustainable business plan for the planet. An entire shift in consciousness needs to happen. Our value system needs to change. The titanic is sinking and people just keep eating and dancing.
You are right, the dress did not make the world a better place. That’s the bottom line isn’t it?
I couldn’t agree more.
Wow! Patti looks cute tho— but, yeah, clearly nobody really wants that dress!!!! We all completely lost our value systems for a while and that’s what we’re struggling with rn.
Señora Allnut says
wow, it’s totally amazing that you’ve seen same dress in different charities and different cities, Obviously this dress was not made to be loved by anyone, only to be worn and discarded, so sad!. It doesn’t look that bad!. And it’s imposible not to wonder about these dresses’ stories, and why they were bought in the first place.
I see lots of wedding guest attires made of stiffy fabric at any charity shop I visit, lots of them!. But sometimes they’re not cheap ítems, sometimes they are expensive garments, too shiny and bombastic to be worn outside Oscar ceremony. Spanish weddings are serious business!
I’d love to watch a documentary about the story behind this kind of garments (behind any kind of garment in a charity shop, actually!)
So well done, Suzanne – you’ve zoomed out to the bigger picture – all the waste, all the consumption. This dress is noticeable because of its patterns, but the thrifts are overflowing with tops like Taste of France described.
Thanks for reminding us to pay attention to what we buy, and to care for it well. And for some crazy-fond memories of hanging out with the girls in Vancouver, xox.
Anne M Bray says
I can’t believe you’ve seen this so many times! I’m sure there are loads of other offenders, but they’re less obvious. It really would make a great collection of short stories — all the different parties that the dress attended.
I’m sure you could make it work, why didn’t you? A black petticoat underneath, leather jacket…. I don’t even think it’s a horrible dress, does that say enough about me…….. Oh your videos, hilarious.
That’s fascinating. Of course there will be some items purchased and not worn but I never thought surveying thrift-stores would prove that fact. And they do.
My take on fashion (especially fast-fashion) has changed. I used to assume that clothes were made for women who exercised free choice in selecting them, but now I believe clothing is more often produced by companies simply trying to make money. And pushing clothes on women they don’t want. When that doesn’t work, the clothes get discarded and we see them in thrift-stores.
I get that a lot, the same dresses turning up over and over again (and I go out secondhand shopping at least three times a week!)
From the brief glimpse of the label it looks like a Chinese brand. I’ve noticed several brands pop up in my Facebook feed and they look great on the photos but man, having come across them unworn in real life in UK charity shops I can only assume that the photographer is practicing some kind of witchcraft.
The fabric is always dreadful and looking at the dress Patti is modelling, just look at how the manufacturer has made absolutely no effort whatsoever to match up the pattern on the bodice and skirt, the pattern pieces are cut to get as much as possible from a bolt of fabric with no regard for the finished result. People are duped into buying this stuff by a pretty picture, it’s cheap and the shipping costs to return them garments make it pointless to return them to the website from which they originated.
I’m depressed by how little the garment workers got paid for making these shoddy clothes and disgusted by the women who buy them, knowing they were made in a sweatshop but seduced by a bargain.
How weird that you keep finding the same dress over and over again. At first glance, it does seem quite cheaply made from an uncomfortable looking fabric. Well, there must be a reason why people are donating it all over the place. I’ve had dresses popping up again and again in the charity shops as well, although not as abundantly as this one seems to be. Jos and I did come across the same vinyl LP over and over again – something quite obscure, as we’d never heard of the artist – and it became quite hilarious in the end. xxx
jodie filogomo says
That’s so interesting Suzanne. Because it looks like it’s such a great dress for the older ladies that like their arms covered and everything. And it’s a neutral no less. Granted, if it’s scratchy then I totally understand.
Now I want to keep an eye out for the same thing over and over…..it would be a great project.
for month (years?) i saw this dress pop up in the adverts every time i opened my notebook……even on your site! and for ridiculous low prices…..
it looked fab on the tiny model – but me was sure about the nasty material – silk organza is not existing this days outside the haute couture studios of paris. and in my stash 😀
seeing ressources and labour wasted this way makes me really sad – and the ex & hopp attitude of most so called “fashion lovers” even more. i still wear dresses i had designed & sewn 10 years ago – made with love from quality material and still chic and flattering. and they will serve me much more years to come.
not to mention the vintage pieces…..
No Fear of Fashion says
I don’t shop second-hand enough to experience this so I cannot tell you how it makes me feel. But when I see really cheap items in a storefront the market I immediately see children in sweatshops in my mind.
Sherry Dryja says
THE DRESS! NOOOOOOOO!!! Run away!!! I was amazed Patti and Mel were able to put it on and wear it for as long as they did. That fabric, if I recall correctly, was made of all things itchy and unbreathable. It is no wonder people don’t keep it long in their wardrobe, but why is it a thing at all???
Every now and then I have a glimpse of hope that things are changing, at least with the younger generation. They come up with eco-friendly and secondhand business ideas that make my heart sing. And then I hear one of the guys on Queer Eye touting the “benefits” of Fast Fashion, or I see some fabric at Joann’s categorized as “fast fashion,” and I feel sick.
Veronica Cooke says
No, I can’t say I have….I actually thought Patti looked great in the dress!
I totally agree with your views on fast fashion. I very nearly succumber today as I have wanted a denim dress for ages and there have been none in my size in the charity shops. I saw one in Primark; tried it on but the one I really like which was fitted ;they didn’t have in stock so I kissed the other one goodbye and went – empty handed….
HAhaha! THE DRESS!!! Hide!!! It felt gross. Totally gross. Pitui. But anything for Sherry’s wedding. That’s what bridesmaids are for, right? I’ve seen it out here enough times too.
But what I really like about this post is how you zoomed out on the big picture. I seem to scream a little every day, then sip my latte and brace. We cannot go on. I am encouraged by new forms of energy and more green bio materials, which are great incremental steps, but I think I’ll start sharpening my cave drawing tools, you know what I mean? Just in case journalling needs tougher stuff than a pen in the future. Gaaa!
Now I really want to see a documentary about that dress! I’ve never come across one yet in my thrifting, but I’m going to keep my eye out for it.
I do see so many poorly made, ill fitting, badly designed garments in the thrift stores…it’s sad. A frequent comment made between me and my thrifting friends is, “I can see why that one got donated”. It’s too bad that people value their clothing so little, that it really doesn’t mean anything to them and they view it as disposable. Or even if they do value it, it cost so little and was made so cheaply, that it won’t last very long before it’s too tattered to wear and treasure anymore.
I follow Fashion Revolution and am starting to see a trend towards conscious fashion in the younger generations though! So encouraging!