Sheri is a proud “refashionista,” taking old and used items and making them new and useful again. A popular fashion blogger specializing in thrift-store style, she has written nearly 1,000 tutorials and articles about ethical fashion. And as a creative expert for The Salvation Army's National Recycling Operations' thrift stores, she's showing shoppers how they can do it, too.
A Passion for Fashion
Sheri's experience with second-hand shopping goes all the way back to her teen years. “I wanted to have clothes that my mom wasn't willing to buy for me,” she laughs, “so I would save up my babysitting money and go to the thrift store.”
Over time, fashion became a passion for Sheri, who spent seven years working as a model in Japan. Getting a behind-the-scenes look at the fashion industry was eye-opening for her.
“As a model, I got to see what goes into making the clothes, and it never sat well with me,” she says. “I saw how many 'fast fashion' brands were unethically produced, and I didn't want to wear something that had hurt someone else to make.
“And so I never stopped thrifting, even when I had access to free designer clothes,” she continues. “I never saw the value in wasting money on new stuff when there's so much great stuff available second-hand.”
Having ditched the designer duds, Sheri would now describe her style as quirky. “Some days, I'm a jeans and-T-shirt girl, other days I'll put on an awesome vintage evening gown,” she says. “That's one thing that's great about thrifting: you can easily create a personal style that is 100 percent unique. Why put yourself in a fast-fashion box?”
Sheri didn't set out to be a fashion blogger—when she started writing four years ago, she was living in Germany and wanted to chronicle her travel adventures. But two years ago, she started noticing that more and more refashioners like herself were offering tips and tutorials online. “I thought, I already have a blog. Why not give it a try?”
Her blog, Confessions of a Refashionista, took off, leading her to write 11 books and create her own YouTube channel.
Part of Sheri's appeal is her offbeat sense of humour. “I want to teach people how to do things in a way that's enjoyable and entertaining, while showing them just how easy it is.”
Now in her 40s, Sheri also hopes her blog will demonstrate that refashioning is not just for young people. “Some people may want to dress like a fashionista blogger, but they think, I'm 40, I'm 50, I can't pull that off. I'm here to say, 'Yes, you can. Look at my blog!' There's no age limit on this.”
When Sheri moved back to Canada last year, she was looking for ways to contribute to her community, and blogging for The Salvation Army was a natural fit. “That's where I started thrifting when I was in high school, so I'm going back to my roots,” she says.
“Sheri has a wealth of do-it yourself knowledge and a passion for recycling,” says Krista Henry, national communications specialist for the Army's National Recycling Operations. “Her strong belief in practising, and teaching others about, sustainable fashion really drew us to her as our newest creative expert.”
In Toronto, where Sheri lives, her favourite thrift store is the Salvation Army shop just a short walk away from her home. She visits at least once a week and the staff know her well.
“There's a young woman there who knows what kind of stuff I like,” Sheri says, “and if she's working when I go in, she'll call me over and show me a vintage dress that's come in.”
For Sheri, that kind of atmosphere is what sets Army stores apart.
“The Salvation Army has always been a welcoming place. Everyone who walks through the doors is treated equally, and you know that the money you spend goes where they say it goes and helps people.”
In the coming year, Sheri hopes to begin offering in-person tutorials at Salvation Army stores, to show people how easy it is to become a refashionista like her.
“If I can do it, anybody can.”
Follow Sheri and The Salvation Army's thrift stores online:
Turn a T-shirt into a Nifty Necklace
Step 1 Thrift a groovy cotton T-shirt and grab your scissors. Chop off the bottom hem and the top of the T-shirt just below the underarm seams. Cutting straight through from side to side, chop the remaining body of the T-shirt into 3- to 4-cm wide strips.
Step 2 Place each T-shirt strip around your hands and give them a good stretch. The fabric will roll back onto itself creating a lovely clean-edged loop.
Step 3 Grab two stretched-out T-shirt loops and place the end of one loop under the end of the other loop. Pull the other end of the lower loop up, over the upper loop and through itself to create a secure knot. Continue adding the rest of the loops.
Step 4 Once all of the loops are attached, cut and stretch a small piece of fabric from the top of the T-shirt, and tie the loose ends together. Gather that long necklace to your desired length and pop it on!
• The average person throws away 81 pounds of textiles annually
• North Americans send more than 10.5 million tons of wearable waste to landfills each year—95 percent of which could be recycled
• Clothing and textile recycling has a greater impact on reducing greenhouse gases than the recycling of yard waste, glass and plastic
• 99 percent of textiles donated to The Salvation Army are sold in thrift stores or recycled
• Last year, over 68 million pounds of used clothing, household items and furniture were diverted from local landfills through Army thrift stores in Canada—40 percent of which were textiles