I’ll Be Shopping Secondhand and Vintage Only
In an effort to both reduce how much I’m consuming and to demonstrate that secondhand fashion is just as desirable as freshly manufactured items, I am challenging myself to purchase only secondhand items this year! My husband had a good chuckle when I told him last November about my ambitious goal. But what most people don’t know about me is that I have deep roots in shopping secondhand. For several years, I lived just a paycheck or two away from poverty. Secondhand clothing wasn’t just an eco-conscious choice, it was a smart option when I had nearly no discretionary funds for clothing.
At this point, I don’t shop secondhand out of necessity, but out of choice. There are billions of new clothing pieces manufactured every year. And yet the reuse of previously owned clothing is still stigmatized. Why? These are clothes and accessories that were in demand just a few years (or seasons!) ago.
Personally, I’m excited to revisit the world of preloved fashion! Each month in 2022, I will feature a secondhand item and show you how I’m incorporating it into my existing wardrobe.
Why Shop Secondhand Fashion?
Secondhand fashion is near and dear to my heart. I’ve always had an interest in the artistic and expressionistic values of clothing. I even chose to study fashion at university. But as a student, I was barely scraping by financially. There was no way I could afford clothes from places like Zara, let alone designer items! However, I was able to occasionally go to the secondhand stores and find unique and timeless pieces that were within my budget. It was around this time that I developed an affinity for vintage clothing too.
Most people know by now just how catastrophically polluting and abusive the fashion industry can be. While I have focused extensively on ethical fashion here on The Purist Life, whether that be vegan items or ethically made garments, I haven’t done a deep dive into the world of secondhand clothing in several years.
Secondhand fashion is easily the most economical form of conscious shopping. It’s budget-friendly and keeps garments out of landfills. Even though I have a very decent salary at this point, used clothing is never something I’m going to shun.
Secondhand Luxury: What Are Consignment Shops?
Luxury consignment shops bring quality pieces into range for people who normally can’t afford it. In fact, as I began my professional career, local luxury consignment shops introduced me to a new way to fit polished items into my work wardrobe. I was able to purchase a black Versace pencil skirt, an Armani sheath dress, and a cute lace D&G dress from an estate sale, all thanks to the reduced rates at consigment shops.
I’ll never forget the feeling the first time I was able to purchase a real designer piece! It was a pair of dangerously tall Alexander McQueen lace-up stilettos. This was just after the designer had ended his life and, as a dedicated fan of Lee’s work, I wanted to buy something in honour of his legacy. (I still cherish them.) At this point, I don’t buy leather anymore. But I still have those initial pieces that I invested in from consignment shops. Brands like Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton, and Hermés also gradually found a place in my closet–all secondhand and scored at a bargain price. (Pro tip: all of these luxury brands do have “accidentally vegan” options if you want to hunt for them.)
So how do consignment shops work? Much like a pawn shop, someone brings in an item they’d like to sell. After inspection, the merchant or shop owner calculates the resale value and puts the item up for display. The initial owner will get a percentage of the estimated resale value either upfront or after the item sells. And just like that, a beautiful piece of luxury fashion gets a second (or third) life!
Purchased via I Miss You Vintage, Toronto.
Vestiaire Collective + My Discount Code
Vestiaire Collective is perhaps the top global luxury re-sale website. I’ve several designer bags and jewelry from them over the years. As of 2020, I am officially a proud Vestiaire affiliate! Use the discount code ‘USX53P’ or click this link to open the Vestiaire Collective app and automatically apply the $50 off coupon.
Vestiaire makes hunting for the perfect secondhand piece so convenient. I particularly love the precise filters they offer when browsing. For example, I may limit a search query to resellers in Canada to shop locally (and skip import fees!) I often use the ‘material’ filter to search only for fabric handbags, since I don’t buy leather. The app also lets you set up specific alerts for price reductions on items you’re watching or when new items become available.
My most frequent purchases from Vestiaire Collective are second-hand Stella McCartney–like the tote featured in this post, designer jewelry, and designer sunglasses–also featured in this post.
Shop My Look
My January Piece: A Secondhand Stella McCartney Tote Bag
As mentioned at the start of this article, approximately once a month I’ll feature a secondhand item and show you how I’m styling it. So at the end of 2022, I’ll have about 12 preloved pieces that have been re-homed into my wardrobe.
My very first secondhand piece for 2022 is this unique and functional designer tote bag by Stella McCartney. Unlike the majority of my Stella bags, this one is large enough to fit my essentiels plus baby bottles, extra diapers, and other bits-and-bobs for my bub. Yes, my first investment is a nod to my new role as a mother! Because it’s black, this tote is pretty easy to incorporate into lots of outfits. Today I’ve styled it with moody earth hues. But I am also looking forward to taking this on warm weather excursions, throwing it over my shoulder for shopping trips, and pairing it with sleek black boots in the fall.
Follow along with my secondhand fashion challenge here on The Purist Life and over on Instagram. What 11 items will I be curating next? Stay tuned! And feel free to jump into the challenge with me using #dressedtoNOTkill on Instagram.