A Vote With My Dollar: My Secondhand Graduation Dress

Photography by Maria Daniela Lynn

Happy graduation week! As of yesterday, I am officially a Villanova University graduate (click here to see my speech for the Villanova School of Business Ceremony)! Believe it or not, I started searching for my graduation dress over a month ago because I knew I wanted to purchase sustainable or secondhand dress.

My initial search for a sustainable dress brought me to:

While I found dresses I loved at Reformation and Christy Dawn, I just couldn’t convince myself to spend $200+ on a graduation dress that I knew I would likely only wear once. I couldn’t help but think that money could go towards my travels to Eastern Europe this summer. I wholeheartedly support and understand that prices need to be higher for sustainable clothing due to the materials which the clothing is made of and the responsible conditions under which the clothing is made. However, given that I would only wear this type of dress one or two times, it didn’t make sense for me to make that kind of investment. If the item is versatile and I know I will wear it often, then I am happy to purchase sustainable clothing. In fact, I just purchased my first pair of Reformation jeans! The important thing to remember is that fast fashion, while it appears cheap, comes at a high cost to the environment and the people making it (for more info, I suggest watching the documentary, True Cost).

My next option was to search for a secondhand dress on the following platforms and stores:

After searching on each of these platforms, I successfully found the dress in the pictures above at Value Village which was the dress I wore for the Commencement Ceremony on Friday! This was my first time at the store and I liked it a lot better than Goodwill because there was a larger selection. I used to shop at Goodwill frequently, however I found that most of the clothing is outdated for my style. This isn’t to say there aren’t some hidden gems in the store, I just won’t be frequenting it as often as I was before.
I also bought a dress on Depop that I wanted to wear for the Business School graduation yesterday. Unfortunately, it didn’t fit right so I couldn’t wear it. Overall, I like Depop for vintage and more fashion forward clothing, and Poshmark for classics. Both platforms are also great for selling used clothing.
Okay, so you may be wondering why I spent so much time and put so much effort into finding a secondhand dress. For me, it was really important to purchase a dress that aligned with my values and embodied all that I’ve learned about the fashion industry this last year. What better way to celebrate the end of a chapter with knowledge that will create a greener future? I firmly believe that we vote with our dollar about the type of world we want to live in. I voted and will continue to vote for a world with less waste, less pollution, and less toxins. What type of world do you vote for?

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