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All Areas > Health & Beauty > Vintage & Sustainable Fashion

Author: Lynda Rowland, Posted: Tuesday, 11th February 2020, 15:00

Is it possible to look trendy without buying lots of new clothes?

In the US, the second-hand clothing market is growing rapidly, with surveys predicting that it could overtake ‘fast-fashion’ sales within the next decade.

In the UK, during 2018, sales in second-hand clothing stores saw a 9% rise in value, a large increase on the previous two years.

As a teenager I was very keen on vintage and second-hand shopping, and am enjoying it again now. I am in good company, as the demand for this type of clothing is growing fastest among 16 -21 year olds, who should be well clued-up on the latest trends.

The ‘millennial’ age bracket – people in their mid-twenties to late thirties – seem to be the least drawn to second-hand and vintage, possibly because they have grown up at the peak of ‘fast fashion’ and find it a hard habit to break.

But they need not totally change their approach to shopping. A compromise is to buy staple items such as t-shirts, shirts and classic knitwear in smaller quantities and of better quality, as these pieces are not as durable as other items and probably do need to be purchased new.

The secret then is to mix those with individual one-off items from your vintage wardrobe. Do this carefully and you can look ‘on-trend’ and have your own signature style.

Slouchy tailoring is big fashion news this season and an oversized suit paired with a neat, well-fitting, ethically produced cotton t-shirt or white shirt will look bang up to the minute.

Keep your top half slim and fitted, belt a pair of loose fitting high-waisted trousers around your middle and top with a matching or co-ordinated oversized blazer.

You can probably see where I am going here! Yes, this look totally lends itself to vintage or second-hand shopping, as the fact that the style is supposed to look slouchy and not as if you have your own personal tailor on speed dial, means you don’t need to scour the stores for a perfect fit.

In fact, the best way to approach a spree in a thrift shop is to focus on the fabrics and colours rather than searching for your size. For a start, clothing sizes have varied a lot over the years and a vintage size 12 garment would possibly measure the equivalent of a 10 or even an 8 today. If you find something you love, it is always possible to have it altered to fit but, for this look, don’t worry.

Sleeves too long? Simply roll back or push up at the elbow for a 1980s look. Trouser waist baggy? Cinch in with a belt – the thicker the fabric, the wider the belt is a good rule of thumb.

If you are handy, turn up your trouser legs but if not, embrace the slouch and just let them fold casually over your shoes – you can always work a few stitches at strategic points around the hem just to anchor them. It all adds to the oversized look.

Talking of shoes. I admit, it is difficult to find a pair of vintage shoes you like and which fit perfectly, and some people just cannot deal with second hand shoes at all.

Source some smart brogues to go with your suit but, if a more casual look appeals, the ubiquitous trainer is not going anywhere anytime soon. Flatform trainers which have thick elevated soles look great with a slouchy suit, as they give more height with elongated trousers but also, as they keep the foot flat, are stable to walk in too.

If you want to wear your oversized suit in the evening, vintage shops are a great place to look for a sequinned camisole or lace blouse, then just pop on a pair of heels and allow your lengthy trouser legs to dangle over the top.

Oh, one more thing! It does help to have a handy, handsome escort to help you out of the limo to avoid taking a tumble if your heel should catch in your trouser hem!

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