I’ve always been a thrifty person.
I love exploring secondhand and vintage shops in hope that I’ll find THAT thing that no one else will have. It’s funny to say that because I try to control and manage so many things in my life, but not knowing what I will find when I go hunting in shops or car boot sales gives me a rush of adrenaline!
Maybe I should see my life more like a trip down a mysterious dusty shop, haha. No one goes to a car boot sale to find a precise item, it’s the possibility of treasure that we chase, so why go in life with such a precise goal when we have no idea what will happen tomorrow? We can control the style we want, but not the exact items.
Anyway, that’s another conversation.
(Above: me as a Russian doll on the right, and me sporting a red velvet dress with huge collar on a Christmas night)
As I said, I’ve always loved exploring and testing outfits. Even from a young age, I had a quirky sense of style (which is a bit lost now that I have a child and need to get dressed quick). I had a pair of yellow kickers that I would wear with a tartan dress, I loved velvet when it wasn’t very popular and the best piece of clothing I’ve ever own was a pair of navy stripey culottes I had when I was around 8. I wore many of my sister’s clothes when she was too tall for them so I was used to used items. I’ve never seen as wearing used clothes as a lack of money.
(Above: one of the many second hand shirts bought in vintage shops)
Even now that money is tight, I still enjoy thrifting even if it’s more of a necessity. The difference now is that I can do something with them and change them so they can fit me and my style. By the way, did I tell you that I bought my wedding dress second-hand on eBay? Yes, you heard that! I had tried the perfect dress when I was 10 weeks pregnant (by ‘perfect’ I mean the dress that made me cry when I put it on) and it was too expensive for me. So I checked online regularly until it appeared at my size, on eBay, three weeks after my girl was born (and half the price!). My grand-mother spent a whole day adjusting the length of the silk and lace with her expert 86 year-old hands.
So here are some great reasons you should go thrifting as well:
1. Now there are many places to find second-hand.
Used clothes don’t come just from eBay and charity shops. Vinted, Shpock and Rebelle are only a few of the apps and websites for selling second-hand items. You can find both really cheap local items or go designer wear with a smaller price tag, Shpock being the cheapest, followed by Vinted, then Rebelle. I love using Shpock for upcycling projects because I can easily pick up the items myself and avoid extra shipping and packaging.
Cyrillus, a French brand, has built their own-brand second-hand website called Seconde Histoire (second story). Isn’t it a great idea? For brands that have a big following, I think it’s really brave to say “don’t buy new if you can by used” even at the risk of losing new customers. The service is completely free and you can choose to get vouchers to use on their shop or simply cash.
2. So much goes to waste.
We’re living in a disposable time and it saddens me. So much gets dumped in landfills nowadays when it could still be used. I’m talking clothes, furniture, toys and more. It is estimated that £140 million worth of clothing goes into landfills each year in the UK (source). How shocking is that? It’s even more shocking when you learn that most of these items aren’t old at all, but people get tired of them and bin them instead of giving them away or selling them.
The solution isn’t in finding who to blame, but in reducing how much we buy and instead look for second-hand items that have only been used a couple of times. And if you’re a fashion addict, try to sell your unwanted items so you can buy other ones with that money.
3. Make your style personal.
Buying secondhand can be a good occasion to learn how to customise an item to fit your style. Even if you don’t want to use a sewing machine, you could learn to add embroidery, sequins or iron-on patches to give a simple t-shirt some Oomph. This is also a good way to mend your clothes and with the help of thousands of tutorials online, "I don't know how to do it" can't be used as an excuse anymore.
(Above: these patches from Rock Cakes on Etsy are not what we'd usually expect and we love it.)
4. Give back.
If you’re not interested in selling clothes or can’t stand the hassle of taking photos and sorting postage, you can just bring them to a charity shop or fill one of the many charity bags deposed in our post box every month. Your clothes will either raise money for good causes or will be sent to people in desperate need of them.
5. Have something personal made out of them.
There are a few small businesses who focus on using old clothes of yours or your baby to make keepsake items like blankets (although now regulation don’t allow to make things that babies play with as they need to be CE Tested beforehand). It’s a great idea for items that you won’t use again but have sentimental value (but maybe not your wedding dress). If that’s something you’re considering, go and check Craft by Katie L, And Sew to Keep and Sew Cute Keepsakes on Etsy who make new out of old.
(Above: an example of keepsake patchwork blanket made by Craft by Katie L on Etsy.)
On a last note: At Pompom du Monde, we don't make capes and crowns out of used materials but we try to use recycled materials whenever possible and make sure that what we do is sustainable. We only produce what is necessary and work hard to create quality items that will last for years and can be passed on to other children so that a minimal amount of waste is involved. Even fabric scraps get used for decorating our market stall and make bunting.
If you want to read further about brands that are working hard to be more sustainable, read this Guardian article.