A Confession

The other night Patrick and I met up with our friend Stephen for drinks, to make up for the fact he couldn’t make it to my birthday dinner. The weather has been on the warmer side lately so I threw on a sleeveless linen dress with a new wrap…sweater…poncho…thing I bought. Which has it’s own story…A story that I am totally expecting flack for.

Shortly after my wardrobe woes post, I blogged about wanting to expand more upon the adventurer/Egyptologist chic portion of my wardrobe. One thing I was really desiring was a sweater, duster kind of thing…something with loose sleeves, no closures with some kind of pattern to it. I scoured racks at Buffalo Exchange during my nearly weekly trips hauling in stuff to sell after my closet clean out, and plowed through the racks of thrift stores, sifted through antique malls, and attempted searches on Etsy, but all to no avail. Then one afternoon I was downtown to meet Patrick after work and walked by Forever 21 only to see exactly what I wanted in their window. I was really irritated. Like really. I hadn’t stepped foot in a Forever 21 since college, and the idea of going in really upset me, especially after reading Overdressed. With a big sigh I walked into the glittering white store and in a short period of time found the knitted shrug. As I took it off the rack, I hoped it would look horrible on me, so I wouldn’t be tempted to buy it. But it didn’t. Ugh. It was perfect.  Then I spied a skirt that looked similar to something I saw a celebrity (who shall remain nameless at this time) wearing, and I thought “Gosh, that is actually really cute! But I could never wear anything like that.” But after trying it on, I really liked it too. Though unsure of how comfortable I would feel wearing it in public. At $16.95, the skirt wouldn’t be a total loss if after one wearing I couldn’t handle it, and if I did love it, I could seek a better one later. And as of right now, I adore this sweater thing (I seriously have no idea what to call it!) and have worn my skirt once already and really dig it and am actively seeking a more ethically made one. Yes, I still feel pretty darn guilty about giving Forever 21 my money, as I believe we vote with our dollar, but also this was my first visit in years, and I really plan not to repeat any time soon. Sigh. Now you all know my dirty little secret.

I would also like to say that, while I am in love with this, I’m still actively seeking out a higher quality piece that is of the same vein. I know the damage of buying from Fovever 21 is done, but, unlike better quality pieces, I know this item won’t last a long time. My style and tastes last longer than that of the fast fashion world, and will be sad if and when the day comes that this item begins to unravel. So if you see something similar, please shoot me a message with a link! If it’s something that Evy from The Mummy would wear, then bets are I’ll want to wear it.

Sweater: Begrudgingly from Forever 21
Dress: Bombshell Vintage, Portland, Oregon
Belt: Red Light, Portland Oregon
Shoes: Miss L Fire
Purse: Expo
Isis Earrings: Antique Alley, Portland, Oregon
Anubis Kartush and Kartush and Anhk Bracelet: From my dad

18 thoughts on “A Confession

  1. Lovely outfit. Your purse is absolutely stunning. I can sympathise with the guilt over shopping Forever 21. I haven’t bought anything new for a good while, but I do know I need to get a good winter coat, and more hosiery. Still have not got around to it yet, because it just feels awful to have to go shopping like that. Even though i know it’s my only way of getting these items.

  2. I think your sweater is great. Why limit yourself when you really love something? It’s difficult to be 100% thrift and vintage. You do such a wonderful job with what you put together so give yourself a big pat on the back. I love this sweater and also your lovely green dress. Think about all the repos that everyone buys so don’t give yourself any grief:) If I could find things with a vintage vibe that I really loved in a department store, I’d buy them too. Heck, I can’t dress vintage all the time so I have quite a few black pants and sweaters that are not vintage. Sometimes also I really treasure my vintage pieces and would rather put a lot of wear into modern clothing that will get washed a lot, like basic black pants and tops. I certainly can’t wear Lilli Ann daily, although I’d like too:)

  3. P.S. I need to take a look at this book Overdressed. I also neglected to comment on the main reason you probably felt guilt was because of the source of your clothing. I hope one day we can “get it” and bring a lot of manufacturing back. It really is a recent thing in the 80s you could find a lot of Made In USA things now it’s so rare and so sad. It really would be a turn wheel effect if we could turn things around.

  4. It happens! I had a similar experience; I’d looked for years for THE PERFECT kelly green cardigan only to find it last Christmas season at Banana Republic. I know I could knit one, but I could not find exactly the shade of yarn I wanted and even if I knit it on tiny needles it would still wind up looking homemade. I feel bad for not knitting one but seriously this is my first “traditional” store purchase in years so on the whole our money is but a tiny drop in the bucket.

    Digging the outfit! That purse is a great find!

  5. I think your sweater-wrap-thing is adorable, I probably wouldn’t have known that it came from Forever 21 is you hadn’t said anything. I don’t shop there and I haven’t read the book, but I definitely understand why you feel guilty. There are certain business I don’t want to support, but secretly want some of their products. And don’t feel you need to “confess” that you bought something that wasn’t vintage! Personally, I love your outfit, and the archeologist chic style.

  6. Nice outfit. I would have never guessed your sweater was from forever 21. I have a weakness for specific blouses I purchase at Kmart, yes Kmart. They coordinate perfectly with my vintage style. I find they are made very well and they last a long time, so really I’m only buying a few every few years, if that. Besides, if I am looking for an authentic vintage top, I’m usually having to go to etsy or ebay, and think of the resources going into shipping a couple blouses. Your lucky to have so many local options to purchase great vintage.

  7. I know exactly what you are struggling with. I too try to buy only used and ethically made clothes, but sometimes it is just impossible. It’s the shoes that trap me. I think that as long as we are honestly trying to choose our clothing wisely, that an occasional iffy purchase can be understood.

    The wrap is perfect, and you will wear it a lot. Enjoy it.

  8. You look beautiful, and this outfit is really awesome. I should make more of an effort to buy ethically-made clothing, but it’s very difficult when that sometimes comes with a higher price tag — I know that speaks to the higher quality, but as a performer who isn’t paid much at all, it’s harder to justify spending more money on one item than being able to add more to my wardrobe with a few. I also hate supporting Forever 21 in the sense that they steal work from smaller artists and other brands, but sometimes I run into a similar dilemma, where I love the work of a certain brand but could never afford something from that brand myself. What’s a girl to do?? Anyway, my point is that you shouldn’t feel so guilty for loving and buying one or two pieces from them. If you find a higher quality, ethically-made version, you could always pay it forward by donating the one from Forever 21! Until then, wear the heck out of it! You love it, it looks awesome on you, so don’t feel like you need to apologize.

    xox Sammi

  9. I often shop at similar places, because I just can’t afford to get everything vintage or ethically made. (Coming from a poor background, I have a lot of empathy for poorer families who have no choice but to clothe themselves in less ethical clothing choices because of money issues). Also, as others have said you are very aware of why you aren’t comfortable shopping in these places and I think that’s very important and you do a great job of keeping a balance, so I don’t think there’s a need to feel guilty either. Also, you look amazing! Seriously love this outfit x

  10. I think we can let you off, it was your birthday after all! It’s really lovely too and a bit of a bargain. I think I’d call it a ‘kimono’ jacket maybe? This outfit is so beautifully put together, with the purse, the belt and dress, it’s all fabulous! I too struggle with buying things in normal shops, as while I do the vast majority of my shopping in charity shops, car boot sales and off Ebay, being on a limited budget I keep getting lured in by shops I know I probably shouldn’t buy from. I tell myself though that I’m not participating in ‘fast fashion’, as I don’t tend to wear a ‘trend’ for a short time and then lose interest in it, I honestly buy things I hope I will continue to wear for the rest of my life. P x

  11. I love your adventure chic style. I have been trying to search for things like this for quite some time, but didn’t know what to call it (i was stuck on vintage female archeologist which didn’t find much), so I was excited when you said you were going to keep going that direction. Do you have a pinterest or a place where you keep inspiration photos?
    I stay away from retail clothing stores so I do not generally have the problem you had with forever 21, but I completely understand because I am trying to be more conscious of who I am benefitting with my money. I have been trying to buy local food (and planting my own, which hasn’t been fruitful so far) and it is really difficult when foods that I want are at the grocery store and I do not have to go so far out of the way and the food I want may or may not be available. At least with clothing I have the idea that I can make my own (though finding quality ethically made fabric that I can afford to learn to sew with is um… non-existant)

  12. You look great [duster-poncho-capelet?]- I read Overdressed, at your suggestion, and while I agree with the writer, I think it’s ok to very sparingly dip into the well of fast fashion when something is just *perfect*. And when something’s perfect, you know it and should just have it, like a French macaroon. It’s more an issue when it’s a habit, and you’re just consuming without planning or thinking – this is the opposite of that.

  13. Great post! I really like your line about voting with your dollar. Couldn’t agree more. It’s so great to read about other people being conscious consumers! I try my best to buy and eat locally too.

  14. Sometimes buying off the rack from “high street” stores can be a “necessary evil”. You want just that ONE thing, and you begrudgingly find it at one of those stores. You mosey in with your head down, and feel such shame and despair at your actions. You hate yourself for buying it, but can’t reconcile not having exactly what you had been searching for in every corner you had access to. It’s tough to be okay with, but you try anyway. But it is something you have wanted and adored, so why the heck not? I think it looks wonderful on you with your whole outfit! And trust me, it is WAY better than most others who buy nearly 100% of their wardrobes from these shops!


    Veronica Vintage

  15. Seriously, your purse is the BEST thing I’ve ever seen! I didn’t realize there was so much Egypt-inspired vintage until I’d seen so many of your posts, and I’m hoping I can find such fabulousness! I love Egypt, and it would be great to show it in my wardrobe!

  16. If you hadn’t had said anything, I never would have known that wasn’t vintage! But I totally understand the guilt of shopping at forever 21. I am by no means a total vintage dresser, most of my clothes are “fast fashion” but I’ve had them for years making them more worth my while. But I’ve reached an age (post-grad, no money life) where the idea of Forever 21 and their onslaught of cute clothes no longer appeals to me. I’d rather spend $100 on one high-quality, very special repro or vintage dress rather then $100 for a lot of badly made crap. I’ve bought a few things from Forever 21 that I either returned or simply gave to someone else. Luckily, I’ve never been drawn into their web and I probably never will, luckily.

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