After having fallen in love with a few new “old pieces” found in my local charity shop, I realised I had yet to write a word about those treasures from the thrift shop that spice up our wardrobe while keeping it sustainable and guilt-free.
To be completely honest, I was introduced to the concept of “thrifting” during my first year living in the UK (north of Northern Ireland to be more precise), second-hand and vintage shops being a rarity in Spain back in the day.
I will always remember my first thrifted find: a preppy purple and black Primark dress with collar ruffles that fitted me like a glove and came with the tags and a spare button for the collar. I remember it cost me the ludicrous amount of £2 and made me feel put together and professional. That little purple and black number would become my lucky dress, if one is to believe in charms of some sort, and in fact I wore it to my MA’s admission exam where I needed all the extra luck I could get.
That same year my sister, who was doing her college year abroad in Paris, would collect the equivalent of 8 tonnes of fabric in jumpers and jackets dug from the depths of questionable second-hand shops in Le Marais, thus confirming what we only hoped could be remediated in the years to come: for years, we had been missing out on treasure finding!
If you look for the word “thrift” in the dictionary, you will learn that it means “the careful use of money, especially by avoiding waste”.
So it basically means making sure there are no leftovers in a world where most of us are spoiled for choice and people get tired of things –and clothes especially– in the blink of an eye. Right.
The concept of thrifting is not new, of course, but it has become super trendy in the last few years, and while I guess it must be a completely different experience buying second-hand because you want to as opposed to doing so because you have to, we can all agree that the positive impact on the environment and our pockets applies to both situations.
Now, this waste-reducing-money-saving idea is definitely a life strategy I can get behind, even if that means fighting my inner magpie and her urges to amass a mountain of useless but pretty shiny things every once in a while. Or at least teach her that those things don’t always have to be brand new.
In that sense, thrifting might not be everyone’s cup of tea. I’ve heard people say it’s dirty, shops are messy and you never find anything in your size. However I prefer to see it as: you get to purchase pieces with a story, you buy less impulsively because having to patiently try several things that may or may not work requires considerably more effort than hitting that checkout button on your online cart, and oh my friend, when you do find something in your size… it’s like hitting jack pot! Ding, ding, ding, diiiiing!
Half of what I am wearing on these shots has been thrifted in my local charity shop: the cream blazer with beautiful mother-of-pearl buttons, the oversized suede coat that seems to belong to my grandpa and the snakeskin structured bag that I in turn took from my grandma.
I love the yuxtaposition of these different materials and the pieces are well finished. Even though my bag needs a bit of TLC in the handle area, I cherish this piece as if it was a little treasure, displaying it on one of my shelves in between wears.
Would you do the same with your five-pound Primark bag? I doubt it.
Something I love about vintage pieces is that they all have a story to tell, they were loved by someone else and now, they need to find a home to become part of new and exciting stories. But also, they are unique treasures, so you don’t run the risk of finding another girl wearing your blazer because it may not even be two of the same in the city! And last but not least, vintage shopping often forces you to be creative. You may have fallen in love with a silky shirt that’s too big for you: well, you can wear it oversized, as a mini-dress or tied up in the front to disguise the extra fabric.
Your imagination is the limit when trying to make things work in the vintage shopping world!
We are definitely seeing a trend towards more environmentally-friendly clothing options, and whether it may be because of Stacey Dooley’s recent documentary on fast fashion or because you are sick and tired of everyone in your Instagram feed replicating your Zara outfit from head to toe, we need to stop criticizing those who are taking steps in the right direction on the grounds that they do it because it has become trendy all of a sudden.
I have been buying second-hand for a few years now, but not exclusively. It was not until very recently, while emptying my wardrobe in preparation for our world trip and realising our clothes took up almost half of our storage unit, that I decided to make a more conscious effort to fight that utterly satisfying but equally ephemeral rush feeling you get after a new buy.
That, together with an ever-growing feeling that the planet is really crying for help, made me realise that I urgently need to start filling my sartorial needs with more durable pieces or whenever the budget lacking, thrifted clothes.
But, oh boy, it is hard! It’s hard when we are constantly bombarded with new collections, season-appropriate fabrics, exclusive pieces and an infinite list of must-haves that more than anything make me wanna throw myself into that fashion-blogger-failure abyss that I seem to be condemned to! [side note: I should probably cancel the subscription to the 21653684215 fashion newsletters that keep flooding my inbox…]
Point is, I understand why some might find it challenging to shift their consumption habits, me included.
That’s why I think we should be grateful that this mindset has become trendy and more and more people are talking about slow fashion, sustainable clothing and rewearing. I mean, so long as the trend is one that helps the planet, shouldn’t we all be happy about it?
One sister can only hope that some of those trends stick around and that we, as powerful consumers, start believing in the big difference that a small change can have in the world when replicated by thousands of people…
Let me know your thoughts, peeps, do you like thrifting or is it too much of a hassle?
What are your most memorable treasures from the thrift shop?
Peace & Love