I’ve committed to shopping secondhand through the end of summer, as part of the Fairdare. Additionally—full disclosure—I’m a little in debt to my clothing budget, after splurging on the Elizabeth Suzann sale in December! To get back on track, my set-in-stone clothing budget for February through August is $150—an average of $21.43 per month. I have very few clothing needs for summer, so I optimistically feel like this is a perfectly workable number. In theory, I could get by with an even smaller budget, but I would really love a pair of sneakers and I’m a bit nervous (not excited) about the prospect of thrifting for shoes (though I’m sure some brave souls have success with it!). Therefore, I’m hoping that if I find everything I need clothing-wise secondhand, I might be able to afford a pair of fairly-made, new sneakers (sneakers? tennis shoes? I never know what to call them!).

As outlined above, my shopping list is as follows:

  • 3 t-shirts
  • 1 pair cute shorts (high-waisted)
  • 1 pair sporty shorts
  • 1 pair workout shorts
  • 1 pair tennis shoes

This list closely reflects how I’ve shopped the last couple of summers. My pattern has been to buy a couple of t-shirts, a pair of thrifted shorts, one pair of shoes and maybe one or two additional items.

I currently don’t own a single pair of shorts (the one sporty pair I bought secondhand last year got a stain on it, which came out with oxygen bleach, but was replaced with a bleached-out spot from the oxygen bleach). I guess, I’m a little self-conscious about my legs. Ever since I was little, people have commented on their pallor. Even when I was grown up and working at Whole Foods, one of my co-workers commented, “Your legs are really white, Heth!” I know. Yet, I do find shorts to be the most comfortable option for playing with my girls outside in the summer, so I wear them.

In my list, I specified “cute” shorts, but I admit I’m skeptical that I’ll find a pair I really love, in this thrifting venture. I mean, I think most shorts aren’t that attractive. I recently came across Kamm Cut Offs (for less + on sale, but not styled as cute, here) and was immediately smitten. I just love the fitted, high waist and the color! For a good two days, I tried to justify why it would make sense for me to ignore my budget and spend $200 on shorts. However, this season, my budget is taking priority over sartorial perfection. I’m thinking, drop a “0” and I’ll be at the max I want to spend per pair on secondhand shorts to wear this summer.

I’m looking forward to the challenge of working within my budget while shopping secondhand! At the same time, I don’t plan on investing too much time in the process. It will be interesting to see what I find, as it’s been awhile since I’ve committed to primarily shop secondhand.

Of course, I’m planning to share my Spring/Summer Ten-Item Wardrobe. However, as I’m thrifting, I’m not rushing myself to a particular deadline (I went into a thrift store a couple of weeks ago and they had zero pairs of shorts). I know I’m already late by blogging standards, as it’s already spring! In the meantime, I’ve been wearing these and this a lot.

What about you? Have you made any great, thrifty finds for spring and summer? Any thoughts on budgeting for or planning your closet? I would love to hear in the comments below!

P.S. If fair fashion is in your budget this season, Garmentory curates a lovely selection (including Kamm Cut Offs) by indie boutiques and designers. Sign up for $20 off your first purchase!

Edit: A little anecdote about secondhand shoes. I completely forgot about this when I was writing last night, but, actually, I bought my favorite pair of shoes ever secondhand. In high school, my friend Caitlin and I were shopping in Boulder, at Buffalo Exchange. I tried on this quirky pair of Camper Twins. They were a simple shape, in black leather, with one leather knot on the back of the left shoe and one leather knot on the front of the right shoe. I thought they were the prettiest, most unique pair of shoes I had ever seen! But they were $30, which I thought was a lot. I left them at the store and Caitlin was driving us through Boulder to leave, as I continued to talk about the shoes. Caitlin said, “I think you really like them. I think you should get them,” and she graciously drove me back to the store. They were my favorite shoes for several years—I even replaced the insole to make them last. I didn’t even get rid of them until a couple of years ago, when I started KonMari, because they were quite sentimental to me. It’s definitely possible to find good shoes secondhand. :)

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I got an adorable navy and white striped skirt (originally Target, I think) at the thrift store recently. Once I got two pairs of my favorite J Crew chino shorts in hot pink and chambray (obviously not together) for like $4 each. I still wear them and LOVE them both!

Natasha Palmer

I agree that nice shorts are hard to find..which is why this summer I am planning on wearing skirts and dresses more!I have one pair of shorts that I have had for years, and they are the only ones I’ve found that I really like. The only problem is that after having my babies they no longer fit quite right :( but I’m hanging on to them anyway, just in case!
In a previous day and age your legs would have been jealously admired I’m sure! ;) I’ve always wondered who started the tan legs fad..


I remember those black shoes of yours! You were cute as a button in them! Which again goes to show my often-made point that some people can pull off clothes that other people can’t. If I were to sport a pair of shoes with one knot in front and one in back, people would tell me, “Uh, I think one of your shoes is broken…” you’re my fashion role model, Heather!

Mandee Pontasch

I remember those shoes, too! I was a bit envious of them, in fact


I have an idea for you! Especially since you plan to sew, you may be able to find highwaisted pants and convert them to shorts. I never have a problem finding high waisted stuff at Goodwill. I also practice the 10 item wardrobe. I found your blog through Jennifer Scott. I absolutely love your blog! My husband and I downsized to move to the mountains. I have two small boys and also stay home with them. You have inspired me to go all the way on second hand and fair trade. Thank you for your lovely insights.


My favorite pair of shorts are from the thrift store, so I hope you have similar luck! However, have you considered trying a sport skort? It is just as movement-friendly as a pair of shorts but a little bit cuter than some of the shorts out there. I’m keeping an eye out for a pair of my own this spring :)


I’m rooting for you, Heather! Your success is my encouragement! I’m happy to have found a fellow Kamm lover, but sorry to share the desire to call them my own. I was going to suggest cutting some pants off too. My older daughter has had lots of success finding high waisted pants that look so cute cut off (me not so much, but I’m going to keep trying). :)

Mandee Pontasch

I am really enjoying your posts; it is giving me inspiration as I have not touched my closet since my son was born (7 years ago, yikes!). I have simply accumulated more clothes rather than purging what doesn’t fit or is no longer needed. I would also like to simplify my kids’ clothing. How do you sell your or your kids’ gently used items? Do you have any experience with selling used items online?


So, I think it took me this long to figure out that you had a blog. I follow you on instagram as the bookishmom. I love buying secondhand. I was just telling a friend today that I love quality clothing but I need to be gentle on the budget. Thrifting helps. I’ll let you in on a secret. That dress I wore to the wedding this weekend was thrifted. I just ordered a new pin for it and had my uncle alter it a bit. I spent less than $60 total including shoes, earrings, and the clutch.😉
My only shorts other than workout ones are from Target via the thrift store. They fit too well to leave in the store, so I brought them home. Lol!


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