Vintage and pre-loved fashion isn’t going anywhere. As we all become more aware of the climate crisis and the need for more circularity within the fashion industry, secondhand stigma is diminishing and pre-loved shopping is on a steady rise. As a fashion editor, one of my favourite things about scouring racks of vintage clothing is being able to find unique pieces, whether that's a dress from the '00s that none of my friends will have or a statement item like a badass luxury watch or old British army cap.
But how do you take a piece that looks like it could be part of your Halloween costume and integrate it into your everyday wardrobe? How do you determine whether a one-of-a-kind item that you’ve stumbled upon at a local market is something you’ll actually wear or simply an impulse buy? That’s where my *expert* tips come in. Scroll on for examples of how I’ve taken three items – a leather blazer, a patchwork dress and an army cap – and made them my own.
1) Invest in a statement layer that you can dress up or down
The Leather Blazer
Where I bought it: Noordermarkt in Amsterdam
Price: €35 (haggled down from €50 because there was a tear in the sleeve)
Styling tip: A leather blazer can be a wardrobe staple throughout the year. Whether or not you go for a bright colour (this one makes me feel like Janet Jackson), you can style a layer like this with everything from jeans and a graphic tee to trousers and a blouse or a midi dress and boots à la Bridget Jones. I went down the fitted route for something a little more on the dressy side but an oversized leather blazer is just as versatile if that’s more your style.
2) Get out of your comfort zone and experiment
The Patchwork Dress
Styling tip: When I first spotted this Desigual dress, I didn’t immediately think it was my style. But when shopping vintage, going out of your comfort zone can be the secret to success. I don’t normally wear A-line skirts but this dress stood out on the rail as it’s simple enough to go with many of the jackets and shoes I already own. After wearing it for a few months now and through two seasons, I’ve styled it with my oversized leather jacket and knee-high boots for autumn, and with white trainers and a cardigan in the summer. If a vintage item isn’t 100% your style but has potential for versatility, it could be a great opportunity for experimentation.
3) Have fun with accessories (you can always resell them)
The Army Cap
Styling tips: It’s fun to have fun with vintage! Take a chance on something bold like a piece of an old uniform – it already exists so you’re not contributing to textile waste, and if you get tired of it you can always resell it on Depop or eBay. Vintage accessories like statement hats, bags and jewellery are also easier to integrate into your wardrobe as they can add so much to a simple outfit and don’t require too much thought when putting it all together.