Saturday 19 February 2011

Secondhand Chic

Before I started university I used to have the impression that Charity shops were full of smelly old ladies clothes and wouldn't have dreamed of buying anything from them. But over the past four years I have gone through quite a decided shift in outlook and I am now proud to say that the vast majority of my wardrobe is from charity shops or clothes swaps.

To begin with I started using charity shops as they were better for the planet and its people and although the clothes I bought were alright I always felt a bit self conscious and it felt like a compromise I was making for the planet's sake. However, in the last few years - I'm not sure whether I've changed or what's in charity shops has changed, but I now have an embarrassingly overloaded wardrobe full of beautiful charity shop and clothes swap finds. I now feel confident in what I am wearing and I love surprising people when they ask where I got the admired clothing from. Coupled with my recent enthusiasm for clothing making and altering and I am well down the road of secondhand chic.

And its great. So much more exciting than rack after rack of slightly different clothes, marred with the child labour and injustice, that everyone else will be wearing. You can be unique and wear what you like rather than what is in fashion. You also get the choice of all kinds of different styles you wouldn't normally come across and it lets your creativity run wild.

Not that I'm advocating rampaging secondhand consumerism here. Our societies obsession with stuff is damaging whether it is new or secondhand. But I believe that there must be enough clothes in the world at the moment to last us at least 30 years without making new ones*, so we might as well share them around a bit, alter them to actually fit us rather than the one body shape that highstreet clothing fits and celebrate the variety, the individuality of secondhand chic.

And when the clothes are all worn through and they need a new lease of life. Well then we can make them into draught excluders!

Photos: Me in secondhand chic (Mark Watson) and Slitherus the draught excluder who was a table cloth in his previous life.

*completely based on opinion, no facts here!


  1. I guess we are all suckered into the marketeers idea of buying everything new, as ultimately these companies want to make money. My worry is that if they continue down the road that they have for cloths as they have with consumer products and build in obsolescence then its likely we could end up with a wear once outfit as thats all you will be able to buy!

  2. Building obsolescence into fabric is a scary idea. I guess we would/will just have to start making our own fabrics again.

    I was very interested to discover that tweed is still only allowed to be made by hand, so if you want a durable low carbon fabric then tweed is definitely one to consider.