I’m a glutton for clothes. For me, there is truly nothing better than locking eyes with a flamboyant tartan brass-buttoned dress with pockets as deep as the Great Barrier Reef, then pointing at it and saying (insert Shrek clip here) “you’re coming with me” – to which the dress responds by leaping off the rails and into my arms where I carry it into the sunset and across the threshold of my house – works every time.
Image courtesy of @abbywin.stone
Nonetheless, having to survive on a student budget and having to pay for rent, food shops and the electric bill often makes me feel like buying new clothes is all but an unattainable pipe dream. This, in addition to the climate crisis, leads to a seemingly never-ending list of reasons to hold off on adding that gorgeous skort to your ASOS cart. If we take Oxfam statistics into account, which show that in the UK, our culture of ‘throwaway fashion’ contributes a whopping 13 million items of clothing into UK landfill every week. Ouch.
However, the ever-growing coverage on the climate crisis has encouraged new initiatives such as ‘Second-hand September’ to inspire sustainable shopping in an effort to eliminate waste. Thankfully, this means that there are so many marvellous options for splurging on new clothes without contributing to fast fashion (even when September ends). For instance, we can shop from charity shops, vintage sales and through ‘buying and selling’ outlets, such as Depop.
Thrifting is my guilty pleasure, and I can think of nothing better than spending a morning wandering in and out of local charity shops to find some funky garms. I like to think of myself as a charity shop connoisseur, frequenting their establishments for clothing more or less exclusively for the past 6 years. I’m proud to say that about 95% of my current wardrobe, excluding my undies, is second-hand (hold the applause).
Image courtesy of @abbywin.stone
Thrifting can be such a good way of developing your unique style without breaking the bank and doing your bit in boycotting fast fashion. You’ll be able to find a lot of super-cheap, high-quality clothes with the additional opportunity for some ‘DIY upcycling’ on a rainy day. Customising clothes can include anything from cropping t-shirts, changing the neckline, sewing on some funky new buttons/studs/lace, or even getting artsy with embroidery and some fabric-safe paint. If you’re looking for inspiration on how to make something more ‘you’, check out websites like Pinterest or even Instagram – they’re invaluable for getting the creative juices flowing.
As I used to work in a charity shop, my parting gift from the experience was the inside scoop on how to successfully navigate and hunt down the most excellent items instore:
- Stock tends to get replenished throughout the day, so don’t feel like you have to get there super early to find the best things.
- If you’re short on time or overwhelmed by the choices, instead of looking for pieces from a particular era or style, focus on looking for certain colours or materials.
- Second-hand outlets are a great place to purchase wardrobe staples such as your classic ‘LBD’ or basic plain t-shirts – for much cheaper compared to somewhere like Topshop or even Primark!
- You can also spot numerous statement pieces. I always look for funky patterns, interesting sleeves or button details.
- Check for any damage or stains – some stains will come out in the wash at home, so don’t give up on a slightly stained item you really love, maybe take the gamble!
- Whilst there will be lots of modern clothing brands, there will also be vintage or retro pieces lurking, these tend to size up a bit smaller so be aware!
- People tend to donate their old clothes when the seasons change, so at the beginning of summer keep an eye out for the previous winter/autumn’s clothes and vice versa.
- Some days you’ll find a wheelbarrow’s worth of clothes, and other days you may be unsuccessful – don’t be discouraged!
As well as charity shops, remember to check out local vintage Kilo-Sales, such as ‘Preloved Kilo’ and ‘The Vintage Kilo Sale’, and apps such as Depop or Vinted to find some mad steals.
So, go forth and shop sustainably my pretties – happy hunting!
Words By: Abby Winstone
Edited By: Anthea Pei