mara hoffman on-piece
Secondhand Clothing Shopping Guide Sustainable Style

How to Shop for a Sustainable Travel & Cruise Wardrobe on a Budget

My family loves taking cruises. I get a huge thrill out of waking up in a new place every day, and a recent cruise to the Caribbean was no exception. Alas, cruise ships are absolutely terrible for the environment. A single medium-sized cruise ship produces as many air pollutants as 5 million cars going the same distance!

One simple and effective way to cut back on the impact of travel is to choose a sustainable travel wardrobe. No need to add to your carbon footprint by buying a bunch of new clothes. For my recent trip, I committed to only buying secondhand and from sustainable brands, in addition to getting as much mileage out of my existing wardrobe as possible. More importantly, buying secondhand allowed me to stick to my budget. Here’s how I shopped sustainably on the cheap for my trip while still stocking up on cute cruise-worthy attire.

Grown-Up Denim Skirt

Traipsing around Central America and the steamy Caribbean often involves showing a little skin. I felt like a denim skirt was just the thing to keep cool and elevate my shore excursion outfits. A few minutes browsing turned up dozens of cheap options. is a very affordable resale website (the prices make up for the sort of janky shopping experience). This dark indigo one by Woolrich ($8) stood out to me, and I wore the skirt multiple times on my trip. One note about The shipping can be slow, so order two weeks or longer before your trip.


Walking the streets of Panama City, Panama in a vintage Woolrich jean skirt from, $8, paired with an olive-colored linen shell from 10 Ft. Single, $20. Secondhand Cole Haan sandals, which I already owned.

Sandals for Both Day & Night

My closet is sorely lacking in open-toe shoes. But I wanted to break out of my comfort zone and pick up some sandals for my cruise. Both dressy sandals to wear to dinner and something more casual to wear on excursions and around the pool were in order. I struck gold again on and found a pair of black snakeskin-printed sandals by BCBG Max Azria for $23. They made an appearance almost every night. A pair of M. Gemi strappy leather casual sandals ($71) struck me as the perfect poolside footwear. It was more than I was looking to spend. but M. Gemi is high quality and I knew I’d wear them long after the cruise was over. I bought them anyway and wore them constantly. They broke in within a few hours and looked very cute. No regrets.


secondhand m gemi sandals
M. Gemi sandals purchased brand new off, for $71.


Casual and Dressy Tops

’90s era button-downs are the perfect thing to weather the Caribbean sun. I found what I was looking for in the men’s section of 10 Ft. Single, a popular vintage store in Brooklyn. This shop is a little on the pricey side, so I’m always very selective when I’m there. This seersucker button down by Ralph Lauren was calling my name, so I bought it. It ended up being a star of my trip, both around the pool and on shore excursions.


vintage ralph lauren shirt
Secondhand sunnies by A.J. Morgan and a vintage Ralph Lauren men’s seersucker button down, purchased at Brooklyn vintage shop 10 Ft. Single.


Functional Yet Sexy Swimwear

Investing in good swimwear doesn’t come naturally to me. Living in New York, it just never feels like a priority. Nevertheless, it was time to suck it up and use the trip as a reason to buy exactly what I needed. Whatever swimsuit I chose was going to have to get me through a combination of poolside lounging and snorkeling and even swimming with stingrays! This color block two-piece from Summersalt had my name on it and is sustainable to boot. This indie brand uses recycled material and sells direct-to-consumer to keep their prices down (both pieces totaled up to $95). My second big splurge was buying a stunning and equally eco-friendly Mara Hoffman cutout once-piece made out of recycled nylon for $260. The price was painful, but the suit made me feel confident and sexy the whole time.


mara hoffman swimwear
My one “splurge” of the trip. A retro Mara Hoffman one-piece crafted out of recycled Nylon.

Eveningwear With a Casual Twist

This is one category that I didn’t need to buy much for. I have plenty of dresses just waiting to be worn. But I also wanted some more casual eveningwear and thought that dress shorts and a silk shell would do the trick. I found this divine white silk shell by Donna Karan at 10 Ft. Single for $20. I wore it a lot on the trip. It looked as perfect with a pair of linen high waist shorts as it did tucked into a pair of printed pants.

anne klein dress shorts
Vintage linen Anne Klein dress shorts, found at L Train Vintage in Brooklyn, paired with a vintage Donna Karan silk shell in bone white, scored at 10 Ft. Single. Both were less than $20 apiece.


Shimmery Accessories

vintage gold belt

Bright goldtone accessories are perfect for cruises and Caribbean trips.I found this vintage goldtone stretch belt off eBay for $6. The belt has a bit of a nautical look to it, and I like to play up the ’80s glam on cruises, which feel retro anyway. A quick web search turned up a ton of pre-owned, budget-friendly shimmery belts on, including a fabulous St. John chain belt.  Nothing says cruise glamor quite like St. John.


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