Natalie Wall frill shirt vintage fashion Le Blow

Cheap frills: Secondhand clothes and sustainable fashion

As with most of my blog posts, this one has been formulating in the back of my mind since, well, January actually. I KNOW.

See, I was going to herald in the new year with a flashy announcement-style post, boldly declaring that I wouldn’t be buying any new clothing this year. Any further addition to my apparel would be vintage or secondhand (apart from shoes and underwear because obviously).

The reason? Well, a cursory glance into my wardrobe, mainly. That is, if you’re not smothered to death by an unfortunate cascade of snowballing garms when you leverage the door(s) open. It’s literally overflowing with clothes. I’ve also got gear in several of those vacuum storage bags under the bed. Oh, and a suitcase-full in the garage. And maybe a bin bag (or two) of stuff ‘to sell on eBay’… It all started to make me feel a bit sick.

I used to justify my clothing consumption by donating the majority of my unwanted garms to charity shops, but it was when I found myself stuffing unworn clobber with the tags still on into bin bag after bin bag I started to question myself.

And the thing is, I used to be part of the problem. Not only as an eager consumer, always coveting the latest ‘must-have’, but as a marketeer, encouraging this sort of compulsive behaviour.

I’ve always been a fan of charity shopping and can still vividly remember the euphoria, aged 14, of scoring an excellent sheepskin coat in a charity shop near my high school. Actually, I still have that coat and there-in lies another problem: I’m a birrova hoarder (hiyas, Marie Kondo, how YOU doin’?).

But it’s that cheapo, fast fashion I’ve got real buyer’s remorse over.

The polyester tops that make me sweat like an alcoholic ‘cos my skin can’t breathe. The non-cotton dresses that crinkle up like a camel’s sun-dried knacker-sack. The trousers with seams that rip, shirts with buttons that pop and stuff that’s so ‘on-trend’ it dates before the season’s over (and there’s no freakin’ way you’d be seen dead in it next year).

So I made a solemn vow to myself to reign it in and to only buy my clothes secondhand in 2016.

I was going to make a big ol’ trumpety fanfare about it, but tbh didn’t need the added pressure and YES, anyone following me on Instagram will know I recently bought two bits from Zara (because hello beautiful embroidered jeans and what?).

The other thing is: is it annoying if a blogger features items you can’t go out and buy?

I thought about this for a bit and thought nah, faaaack it. I want to showcase the fact you can buy items that are on trend for the season, for much less. And the best bit? No one else will be dressed the same as you.

Case in point: I really, REALLY wanted to buy something from Alexa Chung’s M&S collection but my Insta-feed is already full of approx 349508394058394 people wearing that ruffled Harry blouse.

So with that vibe in mind, here’s a little summin’ I scored for a fiver from a local charity shop about two weeks ago: a vintage, high-necked blouse by Jacques Vert with elaborate frill down the front (which you can’t really see the detail of in these pics so well done me; you’ll have to take my word for it, soz).

Natalie Wall frill shirt vintage fashion Le Blow

Natalie Wall frill shirt vintage fashion Le Blow

Natalie Wall frill shirt vintage fashion Le Blow

Hat, blouse, belt, boots (plus cushions and rug) – all sourced from charity shops
‘Ridley’ Jeans – ASOS
Peacock chair – eBay

Yup, as per the credits above, pretty much errr’ythang you see in the pic is secondhand – even the boots which were also a cheap charity shop score (as opposed to over-priced from a vintage shop), around £7 as far as I recall.

Btw, I’m extra fussy when it comes to buying secondhand shoes, for obvious reasons, and it’s very rare I find a pair that pass the litmus test. These boots were barely worn – I think unless we’re talking vintage Mary Quants or Fluevogs, if you can determine the exact gait of the previous owner then it’s best to give them a miss.

I’ve only recently started to consider buying the odd high street piece from charity shops – this studded River Island belt being a case in point. However, I will NEVER buy Primark secondhand; it’s sadly/tragically usually priced up at more than it cost new, and I feel like I’m still fuelling the whole fast fashion thang from afar.

Rather aptly, it’s Fashion Revolution Week this week (18th to 24th April) asking for more and we can ask retailers #whomademyclothes. The more I understand the implications surrounding fast fashion, the more I’m embracing buying secondhand as a sustainable way of shopping; no extra labour or material is used to make new garms and by snappin’ summin’ up from a charity shop it swerves dat landfill.

All the shopping without the guilt? WIN. ALL THE WINS.

Further reading
Am I A Fool To Expect More Than Corporate Greenwashing (on H&M’s World Recycle Week)
Are Any High Street Shops Ethical?
Can We Actually Afford To Shop ‘Ethically’?
The Child Labour Experiment

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