Your comprehensive list of what pieces to source during your next thrift trip.
Shopping consciously often involves a little extra work and shopping secondhand is no different. However, there are certain tricks that helps make thrifting that little bit easier. One of the biggest lessons I learnt was to adjust my expectations as to what I would and wouldn’t find secondhand.
Naturally, pieces worn by the masses are those you’ll find easiest to scavenge secondhand, cue; anything that fits into the ‘dad’ category. We’re talking shirts, ties, half zips and oversized blazers. You name it, and if your Dad owns one, you’ll find it.
It’s easy to forget the fantastic ‘Dad shirt debris’ sitting in bulk at our local charity shops. While the more curated vintage stores have upped the price of old Ralph Lauren and Tommy shirts, it’s important to know these are still cheap as chips in regular charity shops. Avoid the temptation to buy a classic stripe or check shirt new and either check out the wardrobes of any willing male relative or have a sift through the secondhand racks. In terms of ‘value for money’, the price you’ll pay for old and new won’t compare. I found my own go-to shirt, made from Egyptian cotton no less, for €7.
The perfect oversized, vintage blazer is a tricky one to find. Where many make their mistake is searching for that worn-in look on the high street. Boxy blazers have stood the test of time, which means there’s plenty to go around. Probably once worn to work by a middle-aged man, it’s fun to think that, once in my basket, it will go on to live another life of club nights, business meetings, Europe trips and brunches with the girls.
Remember to consider that the sizing can be difficult when it comes to blazers. The womenswear section is usually full of form fitting shapes that aren’t sought after as much anymore. So, for those seeking the oversized shape, the grandad-donations are a better option. Finding mens clothing small enough for us petits can be especially tricky, but bear in mind that taking up the length of the arm is always an option and will probably end up being cheaper than a brand new buy.
Bags, bags and more bags
The revival of the Balenciaga City bag is evidence that 2000’s slouch is back, and secondhand is your one-stop-shop to jump onboard with the comeback of this highly convenient trend. Instead of waiting for high-fashion’s rendition of the past to trickle down to the high-street, cut straight to the chase and cop an original. Thanks to the takeover of micro bags in recent years, our lovely charity shops are packed full of handbags that you can carry your ‘small, but mighty’ life in.
My most recent discovery was an old, maroon Mulberry lookalike selling for €5 in my local Jack and Jill charity shop in Newbridge, Kildare. Its original label revealed that it had been bought many moons ago, and not from the British heritage brand, but from Debenhams. So, if your bank account is stopping you from splurging on vintage designer, never fear; thrift shops are full of old gems that are just as fabulous, and often the same level of quality, as its branded version.
Next time you consider buying something new, ask yourself this: has this been worn before? Has this been a moment in a bygone fashion era? Is this something my (insert older relative here) would wear? If the answer is yes to one or more of the above, try checking out the charity shops and secondhand troves to find a dupe for a killer price and the added bonus of a guilt-free conscience.