Articles, Blog

Jessi Arrington: Wearing nothing new

November 21, 2019

I’m Jessi, and this is my suitcase. But before I show you what I’ve got inside, I’m going to make a very public confession, and that is, I’m outfit-obsessed. I love finding, wearing, and more recently, photographing and blogging a different, colorful, crazy outfit for every single occasion. But I don’t buy anything new. I get all my clothes secondhand from flea markets and thrift stores. Aww, thank you. Secondhand shopping allows me to reduce the impact my wardrobe has on the environment and on my wallet. I get to meet all kinds of great people; my dollars usually go to a good cause; I look pretty unique; and it makes shopping like my own personal treasure hunt. I mean, what am I going to find today? Is it going to be my size? Will I like the color? Will it be under $20? If all the answers are yes, I feel as though I’ve won. I want to get back to my suitcase and tell you what I packed for this exciting week here at TED. I mean, what does somebody with all these outfits bring with her? So I’m going to show you exactly what I brought. I brought seven pairs of underpants and that’s it. Exactly one week’s worth of undies is all I put in my suitcase. I was betting that I’d be able to find everything else I could possible want to wear once I got here to Palm Springs. And since you don’t know me as the woman walking around TED in her underwear — (Laughter) that means I found a few things. And I’d really love to show you my week’s worth of outfits right now. Does that sound good? (Applause) So as I do this, I’m also going to tell you a few of the life lessons that, believe it or not, I have picked up in these adventures wearing nothing new. So let’s start with Sunday. I call this “Shiny Tiger.” You do not have to spend a lot of money to look great. You can almost always look phenomenal for under $50. This whole outfit, including the jacket, cost me $55, and it was the most expensive thing that I wore the entire week. Monday: Color is powerful. It is almost physiologically impossible to be in a bad mood when you’re wearing bright red pants. (Laughter) If you are happy, you are going to attract other happy people to you. Tuesday: Fitting in is way overrated. I’ve spent a whole lot of my life trying to be myself and at the same time fit in. Just be who you are. If you are surrounding yourself with the right people, they will not only get it, they will appreciate it. Wednesday: Embrace your inner child. Sometimes people tell me that I look like I’m playing dress-up, or that I remind them of their seven-year-old. I like to smile and say, “Thank you.” Thursday: Confidence is key. If you think you look good in something, you almost certainly do. And if you don’t think you look good in something, you’re also probably right. I grew up with a mom who taught me this day-in and day-out. But it wasn’t until I turned 30 that I really got what this meant. And I’m going to break it down for you for just a second. If you believe you’re a beautiful person inside and out, there is no look that you can’t pull off. So there is no excuse for any of us here in this audience. We should be able to rock anything we want to rock. Thank you. (Applause) Friday: A universal truth — five words for you: Gold sequins go with everything. And finally, Saturday: Developing your own unique personal style is a really great way to tell the world something about you without having to say a word. It’s been proven to me time and time again as people have walked up to me this week simply because of what I’m wearing, and we’ve had great conversations. So obviously this is not all going to fit back in my tiny suitcase. So before I go home to Brooklyn, I’m going to donate everything back. Because the lesson I’m trying to learn myself this week is that it’s okay to let go. I don’t need to get emotionally attached to these things because around the corner, there is always going to be another crazy, colorful, shiny outfit just waiting for me, if I put a little love in my heart and look. Thank you very much. (Applause) Thank you. (Applause)


  • Reply Daniel Gould June 5, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    one of the most positive and uplifting TED talks I've seen, I'm moved by her attitude and sense of wonder. And she looks bloody fantastic 😀

  • Reply VideoNewZ9 June 5, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    way more for girls then guys
    i dont see many guys wearing gold sequence

  • Reply Heverton Dutra June 5, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    I think this is too personal… If someone likes to wear LV, Gucci, Chanel, etc,etc,etc….so be it! And if someone don't give a shi… to these brands?! Fine too!! What is wrong, IMO, is when someone criticizes the way another person is dressed, just because he/she do not like it… everybody have their own style and knows what is better for himself. RESPECT is the new deal!

  • Reply Blessed June 5, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    I buy most of my clothing second hand as well….I love it!!!

  • Reply sogghartha June 5, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    Is all good and well for her, but man that's bright and those colours.. I'm gonna be dizzy for the next few minutes.

  • Reply trapease June 5, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    I also love doing this! My wardrobe isn't as bright, but that's another great thing about thrifting – your selection is huge! She's very inspirational 🙂

  • Reply antiattie June 6, 2011 at 1:46 am

    that was great! this not only applies to clothes but everywhere else in life. short, pretty simple, and to the point. i liked it!

  • Reply Jacqueline Chang June 6, 2011 at 2:34 am

    this was corny

  • Reply starprincess1000000 June 6, 2011 at 6:35 am

    Donating it back right away seems wasteful no matter how cheap it was to start with. People just have to know how to shop smart because you can find brand names (with tags) at bargain prices if you take the time to look. She is definitely right though bargain /thrift shopping is a treasure hunt.

  • Reply pineappledust June 6, 2011 at 7:04 am

    we're creating a generation of gaga's =OOOO

  • Reply pineappledust June 6, 2011 at 7:05 am

    Friday was…. eh….. ssss……

  • Reply Christopher Cottell June 6, 2011 at 7:34 am

    If we just wore our new clothes until they wore out that must be better than thrifting.

  • Reply Christopher Cottell June 6, 2011 at 7:34 am

    Also, thrifting as a TED talk?

  • Reply reboot1.2 June 6, 2011 at 8:35 am

    i did something farely similar, i had everything, lots of books that i spent thousands building up as a collection, a tv, a flat/apartment, a few great friends and i left it all behind, for the journey 18kg of luggage in my case and thats all i have, because i know not where the journey of life may take me but i do know i will die, and in accepting that i accept that i must live.

  • Reply Francis Mazzariol June 6, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    @brod2man If hemp was not made illegal to favor cotton, every family would have a jenny and a loom and know how to sew our own clothes.

  • Reply john smith June 6, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    that is not a fatality. Change comes when people decide to bring about change. Dress code.??.. Screw dat.

  • Reply john smith June 6, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    the change i was refering to will be incumbent on the worker but also on the clients. And although in my earlier enthusiasm i might have appear unreasonable, i am aware it will require steps before people start thinking in this way. the first step might just be a once a month no dress code day . it may also be rename something else to appeal to people good consciousness like Reduced Dress Caused Carbon Footprint Day (RD2CF DAY ) ….

    Why not 🙂

  • Reply Lord Metroid June 6, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    How the hell did she get to speak rather than some brilliant professor?

  • Reply kebakent June 6, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    This was crap. You know it, I know it, and anyone who thinks differently is wrong.
    Sure, like any hobby (collecting dolls, wearing latex, clubbing seals), it has a certain appeal to the person with the hobby, but obviously, to anyone else it is crap.
    If you need to draw so much attention to yourself, you have a problem that clothing cannot solve.

  • Reply shiftyjake June 6, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Wow. I've never "disliked" a video 'til now. Damn, that's an ugly dress.

  • Reply g2kim June 7, 2011 at 2:52 am

    I am quite shocked reading comments how people get conclusions from this video. She only talked about one story of wearing second-hand clothing. There are so many ways to find great second-hand clothes that you like. She found hers and I am sure everyone will be able to find good ones, too. Overall, it was a cheerful talk that lasted only for five minutes.

  • Reply Kathryn Lambkin June 7, 2011 at 3:30 am

    @KemaTheAtheist she's pretty well dressed for an academic, if that's what she is. a nice change from the shorts, socks and sandals

  • Reply RWW June 7, 2011 at 4:03 am

    206 people are tired of hippies.

  • Reply e June 7, 2011 at 4:10 am

    fucking hippies invading ted

  • Reply uzair; June 7, 2011 at 4:55 am

    What has TED become.

  • Reply Sean C June 7, 2011 at 9:03 am

    What are you doing TED

  • Reply brod2man June 7, 2011 at 10:27 am

    @iamfrancisittv lol i google'd jenny to see what it was. I got a lot of results.

    Also hemp isn't weed. at least not in the effects of smoking it. but im all for legalizing hemp too, stupid oil companies!

  • Reply amazingbollweevil June 7, 2011 at 10:49 am

    So, how much did she spend all week? Breaking it down, I figure she spent well over a hundred dollars to "rent" her outfits. Would it not be better to own your wardrobe and use your resources for other things?

  • Reply deeptracy23 June 7, 2011 at 11:01 am

    The TED talk I watched before this one was about happiness. What the f*ck is this about? Tsk. Women.

  • Reply gexman31 June 7, 2011 at 11:33 am

    this is one of the world's leading thinkers and doers? what's going on, man…

  • Reply Bottleinabox June 7, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    What a heartening and impressing woman. This video is NOT about clothes. It is about self-conception. The way you reflect your life. Self-respect is the key word!

  • Reply Francis Mazzariol June 7, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    @brod2man … spinning jenny … hemp is not weed but weed is hemp … I think not many in the west found smoking weed pleasurable before the campaign that publicized it as a recreational drug (could we label it superman coffee trend?). What I find stupid though is they cleared the west of nearly all hemp, but failed to get rid of a bunch of other plants like datura stamonium which is truly dangerous, and no one noticed how pretentious that campaign was.

  • Reply sdrawkcabnipyt June 7, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Found someone to talk off the street this time?

  • Reply brod2man June 7, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    @iamfrancisittv the west need to start thinking for themselves, a lot of fools drifting about – the alcohol society.
    id love to see how a weed society would deal with a lot of these same issues.

    what campaign was it that named weed a recreational drug and what was it classed as before that? "Evil Mexican MariHuana?

  • Reply Colin McGovern June 7, 2011 at 7:47 pm


  • Reply WildWe5 June 7, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    You also look like a crazy person.

  • Reply ilotitto June 8, 2011 at 3:11 am

    Excelent! More jobs for the Malasyan children!

  • Reply ilotitto June 8, 2011 at 3:23 am

    OMG… she's like all the movie blondes blended together…

  • Reply majinspy June 8, 2011 at 4:02 am

    I'm sorry but her outfits are train wrecks. Her statement that she "looks like a 7 year old" or is "playing dressup" are not the message most people want to send with their sartorial decisions. Her Friday look is enough to commit her to an institution. Lastly, men can't get away with NEAR the amount of leeway a woman generally can. Men can't look "whimsical" and be taken seriously.

  • Reply Ciarrroscurrro June 8, 2011 at 6:13 am

    Most of us would get fired for looking like that and none of us would get hired looking like that. Plus, who has time to go somewhere on a business trip and shop. Plus, I am size 16 and most thrift shops don't have anything for me unless it looks like a sack.

  • Reply Michael Jackson June 8, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Far from the greatest TED talk I've seen but definitely not the worst. My philosophy on the way someone should dress…you should dress on the outside the way you feel on the inside. If you're feeling clever and sharp then dress in a suit with some nice dress shoes. If you're feeling happy & relaxed then put on some shorts & wear some sandals. When I look at how someone dresses I don't give a shit about how much they spent on their clothes…I look at how they dress to know how they feel.

  • Reply KingRocary June 8, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Man, survival time is over, we do live in comfort now… No need to stress, feeling ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • Reply Ploon72 June 8, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    SEVEN pairs of underpants? Coward. Why not underwear from a thrift store? I guess she draws the line somewhere when it comes to second hand clothes?

  • Reply Felicia108 June 8, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    Mmm…. I don't like what shes wearing atm though… O_O

  • Reply Felicia108 June 8, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    SHE'S 30?! WTF… nooo way! She looks like she's no older than 25… o_O

  • Reply songsofsorrow June 9, 2011 at 3:02 am

    why does she not ask the store if she can trade clothes?
    Why not a membership to Value vllage or goodwill?

  • Reply Leonidas GGG June 9, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    She dresses so bad…
    "Confidence… if you think you look good in something, you ALMOST certainly do"… you just keep telling yourself that.
    Her husband probably going: "No honey, people didn't come talk to you because they though you're a clown… no. They did cuz you're… interesting."
    BUT, she is on TEDtalk and that's a big plus!

  • Reply S0XF0X June 9, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Ugh…fucking HATE fashion.

  • Reply Kathryn Lambkin June 10, 2011 at 11:21 am

    @KemaTheAtheist Well Kema it's great to see that we can agree on atheism. I'm sorry to have offended you. Some of my shorts/sock/sandal wearing agriculture researching colleagues are happy to they don't have to conform to business dress standards.

  • Reply Chris Silver June 10, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    I love the sleepy guy at 2:05

  • Reply 8legsFreak June 10, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Her fashion sense is atrocious, but she has a point, we should buy more second hand stuff.

  • Reply TheDoodlibop June 10, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    @impeccableimbecile Creativity and utilizing the value of consumption 'bored' you? Was it because she smiled and was friendly and spoke without using 'big words' that suddenly, her views became less than intellectually stimulating? Didn't you get SOME kind of take home message? Don't forget. The world is comprised of many different views with pockets of gems in many aspects of daily life. Aren't you being dismissive because her presentation didn't fit -your- criteria of "smart"?

  • Reply TangledWeb June 11, 2011 at 2:08 am

    @Bosco239 Not really…she's a bit "extreme". You can look great and "conventional" (if that's what you want) without spending a fortune.

  • Reply TangledWeb June 11, 2011 at 3:14 am

    @majinspy You have to find an in between sometimes.

  • Reply Peter Maher June 11, 2011 at 4:03 am

    some cute outfis, a little sick of the different colored cowboy boots… those red pants and garish colors unnecessary. You can find lightly used clothing without looking like the crazy lady around town…..

  • Reply Waranoa June 11, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    ..This is so uninteresting……!! All my friends are like thisssss!!

  • Reply Scott Haselbery June 11, 2011 at 3:57 pm


    She said.. "if you feel like you look good, you probably are.. and vice versa.."

    In that token… if you feel like you are brainless… you probably are. If only quantum physics gives you insight… it is pathetic.

  • Reply 76birdcage76 June 11, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    This is a joke, right?

  • Reply KFCJones June 12, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    @ogrish84 Yeah, job one would be to get those ugly clothes off!

  • Reply sometimesdee June 13, 2011 at 12:18 am

    @Ploon72 is it even legal to resell used underwear? It's a bit of a health risk!

  • Reply violet101 June 13, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    classic hipster 🙂

  • Reply Tolstoievsky June 13, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    hello i am 12 and what is this?

  • Reply swiss chard June 16, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    i love her belt. and i love second hand!

  • Reply PoweredByMagnets June 22, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    @TheDoodlibop What exactly did you find intellectually stimulating? Clothes aren't the only thing she recycled. She spit out the same, tired rhetoric of people like Lady Gaga and nearly every artist with a "uniqueness" complex. There was nothing creative about this.

  • Reply salahhe Sali June 23, 2011 at 8:25 am

    bet she brought the boots too …

  • Reply TalynCo June 26, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Works great if you have a typical body type.
    If not? Impossible to get clothes that fit comfortably second-hand.

  • Reply MrAntihumanism June 26, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    horrible clothing.

  • Reply Angie Pinchbeck June 29, 2011 at 3:00 am

    @TalynCo I disagree with that. I definitely don't have a typical body type and I'm able to find tons of stuff second hand. It's not just "typical body types" who donate clothes.

  • Reply TalynCo June 29, 2011 at 3:13 am

    @AngieSPants It would of course depend on what 'non-typical body type' you have. The amount of times I've found reasonably fitting second hand clothes could be counted on the fingers of an amputee.
    But so many factors play into this. : ) Suffice to safe it's much easier with a normal body type.

  • Reply darkprincess1012 July 16, 2011 at 7:57 am

    She's cute, and I love this idea, and this was a fun, different TED talk, but I think this turned a LOT of people off…because….well…she just really isn't very good at finding sophisticated, clean, elegant, (dare I say) "stylish" things to wear. Her outfits look really kiddish..and well…quite cheap. That's her style, and God bless her, she seems like a wonderful person, and she's right, only YOU need to think you look good. Still though, they just aren't aesthetically pleasing.

  • Reply darkprincess1012 July 16, 2011 at 7:59 am

    @PoweredByMagnets A uniqueness complex is quite common. xD Very many people TRY to stand out and TRY to be unique, which, when you think about it, really isn't being yourself, it's angst that's trying to prove to everyone that you can be unique and still be "fabulous" which in the end, all you're doing really IS worrying what other people think.

  • Reply PoweredByMagnets July 16, 2011 at 9:17 am

    @darkprincess1012 You make a really good point. I first interpreted the "confidence is key" part as "don't care what other people think"; but after considering that you can't value uniqueness without caring, I think she trained herself to think she's more beautiful when people object to her looks.

    I found it disturbing when she said she couldn't be herself and fit in. Of course she can't, because she's defined "herself" as someone who doesn't fit in. I wonder if hipsters have identity crises.

  • Reply Pajaro Espino Barros July 16, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    I do this all the time, its a great wait tot ravel, a friend just posted the video and its great, just look at it this way, YOU DONT HAVE TO BE CARYING A HUDGE BACKPACK EVERYWWHERE YOU GO, thats good enough for me, i dont buy an outfit for every day, but i do travel only with underwear and socks and it works great, it is stupido to be in a mad mood, tired or worried about your travel luggage, this is the best way to g, Ive beent raveling arround europe and its been great, try it and then speak

  • Reply Fenny Song July 22, 2011 at 7:30 am

    Wow, there are so many trolls out there. Personally, I think it was a very inspiring TED talk and she is a very beautiful person inside and out.

  • Reply dauphine719 July 25, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    she looks ridiculous and her talk is full of b.s. and cliches

  • Reply Th3Wab3 August 4, 2011 at 9:18 am

    @darkprincess1012 i think you are painting with broad strokes that may be the case with some but then again putting people in a boxes (when we clearly aren't boxes) usually put ones views on unstable ground.. such is the nature of assumptions… as nelly furtado once put it "all i can do is try"…

  • Reply darkprincess1012 August 11, 2011 at 3:55 am

    @TheDoodlibop I think it's because her talk really wasn't that original and didnt really bring anything new or unheard of to TED talks. Also, her outfits (i guess this is more on opinion) weren't THAT impressive. She was cute and energetic, but most of the thigns she said, millions of people have said before, and billions have heard already.

  • Reply MiMa4x01 November 4, 2011 at 2:25 am

    What a great person

  • Reply DownWithDarth January 31, 2013 at 3:46 am

    There is nothing valuable about pithy, cliche statements about "learning to love yourself" and "finding your inner child" and a women showing us pictures of her in a poncho. Her views are less than intellectually stimulating not because she "doesn't use big words", but because she honestly has nothing novel to say. Everyone knows what a thrift shop is and how to use one, and that's what makes it irrelevant and unnecessary and yes, brainless.

  • Reply DownWithDarth January 31, 2013 at 3:47 am

    also, "utilizing the value of consumption" doesn't even make sense as a sentence.

  • Reply destroyka777 March 7, 2013 at 1:46 am

    Maybe because taking a snippet of the whole sentence renders it into what is called a quotation, and is not necessarily a what one would call a sentence. And if what you were trying to say is that you don't think the sentence you took that quotation from is a sentence, I have to ask why not? Because you don't agree with what it is saying? Perhaps you need to broaden your perspective.

  • Reply MrCarlbarker March 8, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    i see in the description and it says there technology entertainment design so yeah 😛

  • Reply notdoingwork June 29, 2013 at 7:46 am

    Come on. Don't intellectualize this, or knock Ms. Arrington because she's 'ditzy' or 'self-helpy', or any other of the dismissive comments made about her. She's happy, so what? She's right about our not needing many of the material things we think we do, and VERY right that learning to let go of things in this life is an invaluable lesson.

    So if you think she's got a 'uniqueness complex' (love that one), remember: Whatever she has, she's the one who was invited to give a TED talk, not us.

  • Reply notdoingwork June 29, 2013 at 7:52 am


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  • Reply Lori Abercrombie August 29, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    To be perfectly frank, this Ted Talk is on target for a large following of people outside of technology and all things "geeky" that many of you may have been looking for. Upcycling, recycling, etc, are all very much in the public forefront with respect to guiding people to do more with less and reduce the impact on the environment. There are a million experts out there that all sound the same but not this young lady. She was unique. There is an old saying, "Take what you need and leave the rest"

  • Reply Nathnel Debebe September 20, 2013 at 7:49 am

    Macklmore sums this whole idea in a 2 min song

  • Reply Pradip Limbu October 21, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    You already know that depressing occasion when your brother (who’s been a loser always, incidentally) gets an amazing girl to fall for him in 3 weeks?! Absolutely, that basically happened. I am aware that I ought to be happy nevertheless I would prefer if it was me. He smiled as he told me he learned from the Cupid Love System (Google it). I would like to hide inside of a cave at the moment.

  • Reply Vintagebeliever October 30, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    I love this!! I love to thrift shop and create my own style….. Thanks for sharing!!

  • Reply Tae Young Lee July 7, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    She looks pretty trash tho……

  • Reply Ayla July 11, 2016 at 1:11 am


  • Reply chloe evelyn October 17, 2016 at 3:29 am


  • Reply sOn flower February 18, 2017 at 4:11 am

    Amen girl I never buy new stuff always thrift shop heck yea I love it it's unique items fun and cheap and eco friendly

  • Reply George Schlaline May 9, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    socks half way through

  • Reply Steph ASMR August 26, 2017 at 10:57 pm

    just watching and listening to her puts me in a good mood… what a gem <3

  • Reply Shohei Y. August 8, 2018 at 8:29 am

    This talk inspired me. Thank you!

  • Reply mary hershelman December 8, 2018 at 8:58 pm

    I have a small trunk in my living room that our family packed all their worldly goods into before sailing off to America in 1750. My mother used it to store her out of season clothes…50% of her wardrobe. It barely holds my shoes these days.

  • Reply Marion June 11, 2019 at 5:57 pm

    Coucou j'espère que vous avez réussi votre examen d'anglais ♡♡

  • Reply Mat33 June 11, 2019 at 7:38 pm

    They only reason I’m here is because I had this monologue for my exam.. We listened (didn’t watch) to the video and had to answer questions about it…

  • Reply Fashfrog 14 August 28, 2019 at 4:52 am

    boring bullshit

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