As Oxfam’s Second Hand September campaign urges more of us to buy preloved clothes, here’s how to find modern classics without buying new
Think of vintage or secondhand clothing and you are likely to picture wacky prints, T-shirts advertising long-ago band tours, and floral tea dresses. All of which are great, if retro is your thing, but what if you like a more understated look? With campaigns such as Oxfam’s Second Hand September urging us to buy only secondhand clothes for 30 days, is it possible to use such purchases as the building blocks for a capsule wardrobe?
“People are driven to secondhand for many different reasons,” says Fanny Moizant, co-founder of the resale site Vestiaire Collective. “Building a unique wardrobe is one of them,” she says. “It’s exciting to hunt for stand-out pieces that you won’t find anywhere else.” Another reason, she says, is the wish to be more eco-friendly. “As we’re seeing a shift towards consuming more consciously, I think the concept of investing in quality pieces that will last you for years and building a secondhand capsule wardrobe is becoming more appealing.”
The items in your capsule wardrobe will vary, depending on lifestyle and taste, but these are the clothes you wear again and again, and don’t have to fret about. Among the experts, common themes emerge.
Moizant’s “uniform” is generally made up of “a pair of jeans or high-waisted trousers, a T-shirt or a piece of knitwear and then, depending on the day, I’ll wear sneakers, loafers or heels”. For Bay Garnett, a stylist and vocal proponent of “thrifting” – shopping for fashion in secondhand shops – it means “a long black skirt, a shirt, a grey T-shirt, a denim shirt, a lovely cashmere sweater and a blazer”.
For Holly Watkins, who has been selling secondhand clothes for decades, starting on market stalls and now selling via her shop One Scoop Store, it would include “a couple of good pairs of jeans … a couple of good shirts – I like a white shirt and a striped shirt, a denim jacket and blazer.” Sophy Grattidge and Dexter Burgess-Hunt, who run Sylk Store, on online resale site Depop, think that “every wardrobe needs a classic pair of high-waisted trousers” as well as a basic T-shirt, some vintage denim jeans and “a minimal relaxed shirt.” All of them buy most of their wardrobes secondhand – and here is how they do it.