After swapping to second-hand, I’ve come to learn its power as a method of developing a truly individual sense of style. An upside-down collection of ‘one man’s trash’ where your choices are reliant on a natural and unique attraction to colours, textures and shapes, unclouded by the pressures of what’s in and what’s out.
I acknowledge that many people don’t actually care about developing a ‘truly individual style’. However, it evolves with every purchase you make throughout your life. The man sat opposite you on the bus, wearing those worn-to-death runners – at some point chose them out of every pair in front of him. Your Dad, whose wardrobe mightn’t cross his mind from one month to the next, has curated his own style over the years, from month to month. Choosing what ends up in your wardrobe is an example of an unavoidable, inescapable creative expression. The question then is, how do we make sure that the pieces we buy truly reflect our own style, when that tempting hamster-wheel of new and shiny trends is everywhere we look?
Now of course trends in fashion have been in the industry since the dawn of time – they literally fuel it, but in 2021 it feels like following trends and trends alone has become scarily easy. Shopping second-hand has been a way for me to avoid buying into these quick trends and preventing them from consuming my wardrobe.
My approach to style in typical stores and charity shops couldn’t be further apart; I walk into a shopping centre and immediately go into Instagram copy-and-paste mode, indulging in the comfort of the new in. That very same day I can go into a second-hand shop and buy the most outrageous, (verging on comical) pieces that I haven’t seen on anyone else – the kind I can always rely on my siblings to absolutely roast me for. With sizing too, my usual pickiness goes out the window and I’ll justify anything as ‘oversized’. It’s as though the pressures I associate with fashion take a hike, and I just buy what I want.
At the end of the day, it’s the purple fur jacket that cost two quid, a bargain-bin band T-shirt from a Northern-Irish music festival and my beloved lime green two-piece suit that I treasure most dearly. It’s my beloved charity shops; full of everyone’s leftovers, that have provided me with the outlet I need to loosen up and curate a braver wardrobe, and more a more autonomous one too.