I started wearing vintage clothing in my late teens, circa 2005 during the indie/electro-trash revival. Owning a wardrobe similar to that of Aladdin’s cave, I loved trying out different looks, playing dress-up with gaudy prints, colours and textures. Some days, I’d opt for chintzy polka dot shirts and cat-eye sunnies, aiming to encapsulate some sort of 50’s pin-up holidaying in Malibu ! Other times, I’d chameleon into an 80’s disco queen wearing glam-rock power jackets with shoulders pads the size of American football players and totter about in multi-strap, gold buckle pointy ankle boots. I owned more Jane Shilton taupe clutch bags (didn’t we all ?! ) and elasticated waspie belts with huge, door knocker fastenings, then you’d wear in a lifetime ! I would raid charity shops, vintage stores, thrift shops, car-boots, flea markets, both Nana’s wardrobes and my Mum’s attic in search of anything that was easily identifiable as vintage. And that my friends, is one of the many beauties of wearing vintage, it gives you the freedom and expression to be anyone you want to be, if only for a day. Expect, none of those looks and styles, I was trying so (cringingly) hard were ever really me.
So after a few years, me and vintage fell out. I decluttered 70% of my ill-fitting ‘dress-up box’ in search of finding my own personal style. I swapped impulsive, throw-away purchases for more considered buys, looking at the style, shape and colour of a garment. And whilst, I still like to wear vintage now, my approach is the direct opposite than that of my ‘experimenting wth every era possible’ years. I either I look for simple staples or for a particular item I can’t find new. Essentially, I’m more so wearing second-hand clothing with an anonymous fashion era that I have chosen to purchase because it works with the existing pieces in my wardrobe.
When selecting second-hand, I always look at the composition of the fabric and where possible opt for 100% cotton, linen, silk or leather. Natural materials always age better over time. I recently came across the most incredible second-hand Louis Vuitton leather goods stall at a flea market in St Tropez (of course). Whilst I’m not keen on new LV merchandise, seeing how their signature LV logo and print had worn over time looked so chic and authentic, I guess so after so many years of living the high-life in this prestige French fishing village !
Secondly, I always check the how the colour has faded on second-hand clothing, especially white pieces. Yellow stained pits, grimy collars and cuffs are to be avoided at all costs ! I never completely exclude pieces that are in need of minor repair too such as loose hems, missing buttons or basic tailoring requirements. If paying a little extra to improve the fit and style of the piece so it appears as good as new, it’s worth paying out for.
Thirdly, if I have an idea for a certain style that’s not available on the high street, online or is out of my budget, I’ll make it my mission to find it second-hand ! American sellers on Etsy and Ebay tend to have the most eclectic choice of vintage clothing, here are some of my favourite Persephone Vintage , Metaformose (new + vintage) and Wildfell Hall Vintage When looking for second-hand online, try searching words that describe your current style, for example Minimal / Clean. I always include the exact colour, i.e. cerise pink, fabric, era (if applicable, 90s if I’m searching for a minimalist style piece) and size (both UK, US and European, Uk8, Us4, EU34) to help filter and narrow search results.
Every couple months, I take a trip over to Alderly Edge and visit the charity shops that adorn London Road, they have a good selection of second-hand designer clothing, meaning a more likely chance of finding better quality fabrics and interesting styles. Other good Manchester based charity shops to try, Sue Ryder in East Didsbury and Oxfam Original in the Northern Quarter. Whenever I’m holiday aboard, I always try to visit vintage stores and flea markets, in the hope of discovering a rare find. European vintage tends to be slightly cheaper too which is always a plus !
Finally, as the saying goes, "One person's trash is another person's treasure" just be sure you are choosing to buy second-hand wares for both sustainable reasons as well as economical.
Finally, finally I have showcased by 5 favourite second-hand finds organised by Statement and Staple pieces. Where possible I've listed the seller or store where I purchased the item from so you can check out their current vintage offerings too.
Do you where second-hand clothing ? What do you search for ? Share your tips in the comment box below.
I have such lovely memories of wearing this dress. I first purchased it in 2010 from an American vintage seller called 'The Spectrum' via Etsy. It really is beautifully made featuring a boned-bustier top half and tulip style skirt, both are fully lined. I had to make minor alterations to the fit, adjusting the hem length and taking in the back but it's been worth it for the hourglass shape it gives me. My most recent wear was on holiday this year in Porto, see here.
A recent purchase this year Spring as I flirted with the idea of print. I love the bold contrast of navy and white print and the elasticated waist and a deep double V is so flattering ! Purchased via Etsy from an American seller, Love Craft Austin. I also wore this jumpsuit in Porto, see here.
My beloved grey pinafore, found in a charity shop in Birmingham a few years ago ! It's actually maternity clothing and one size above my regular clothing size but the loose, relaxed fit looks so typical of the style of COS, TOAST and Margret Howell, 3 of my favourite brands. It warms my heart to think it cost just 11 English pounds ! It's so versatile too, I like to wear it with skinny ribs in the Winter and with simple white tees in the warmer moths. Here's a recent picture posted on my Instagram of this beauty in action, click here.
Perhaps my most worn second-hand item of clothing, a silk grey shirt someone brought as an Christmas present in my first year of university circa 2007. I love it so much, I wrote a whole blog about all the wonderful memories we've made together, you can read it here.
Finally, an amazing pair of 100% cotton, made in America high-waisted, drawstring shorts. I spied these whilst on my honeymoon in Portland in a dreamy store called Home of Commons that combined independent brands, vintage and makers products.