Dang, my teen looked cute wearing the top layer of the dress I got married in 20-plus years ago over denim shorts and a tank top. The chunky black boots made the outfit perfect.
I was proud to see Basil embracing recycled clothing and doing it with such panache.
But there’s another side to Basil’s love of fashion. They (Basil uses they/them pronouns) value quantity, the fun of having a closet full of options. They buy clothes cheap from Amazon and Shein and at stores like Ross Dress for Less.
I’ve talked to them about fast fashion and how damaging discarded clothing is to the environment. They never plan to discard anything, so they aren’t too concerned. But they do plan to keep accumulating.
I want to teach them to shop thoughtfully and to prioritize recycling and repurposing over buying new.
The pandemic shut down thrift store browsing for a year and a half. They finally have ventured back into the thrift stores our small town is known for, though it isn’t as much fun when you cannot try clothes on and model them with your friends.
Like all teens, Basil is not interested in my lectures. They are all too aware of the ailing planet they inherited from generations defined by selfishness.
The future is terrifying, and the present is no stroll in the park. Fashion offers an escape, something light to focus on as well as a way to define their unique humanness.
During the pandemic, Basil discovered a shop on Amazon that sells swing-dancing costumes. They bought a blue-checked dress with a full skirt for less than $30 and wore it many times, including to their eighth-grade graduation.
Photo by Tiffany McDonald Powell
The day of their eighth-grade parade, most of their classmates wore their school uniform. Basil wore a red dress, white gloves, and their great grandmother’s pearls.
Even when they knew their friend’s Quinceanera would be canceled due to Omicron, they wanted a special dress, which they found cheap on Amazon and wore to their friend’s house, because turning 15 is still a big deal worth dressing up for.
I was excited to share the concept of Second Serve and to buy them a cute, sheer top. Basil loves pre-owned clothes and jewelry. They shop my closet occasionally, and they have a collection of broaches, many contributed by family members and neighbors.
But they love the whole of fashion, and that includes new, cheap, trendy items.
Recycled fashion is just a small part of their personal style, one I hope they will lean into more and more as they realize how much amazing recycled clothing is out there just waiting for someone like Basil to reclaim, repurpose, and redefine.