Second-hand fashion in Britain
Buying clothes second-hand comes with lots of benefits, but also some downsides. However, among the student population of Britain, it is one of the most popular ways of staying stylish. This is partly due to the huge discounts that can be had, but also because vintage and retro clothes can provide a more ‘genuine’ version of current trends that are inspired by the past. What’s more, buying clothes second-hand is an environmentally friendly, sustainable way of staying fashionable.
In Britain, there are lots of ways of getting hold of second-hand fashion, with the result being first-class style.
These are shops which are run by a certain charity (Oxfam has over 700 shops, Cancer Research has 567). People donate clothes (among other things) to the shop, which are then sold at low prices, and the proceeds go to the charity.
Positives: Very cheap clothing (for example, a top would normally cost between £2-£6), and you can shop with a clean conscience, knowing that your money will be going to charity!
Negatives: You can spend a long time sifting through hoards of clothes that you have no interest in, and come away with nothing, but then again, that’s arguably the same for shopping in any kind of shop.
Technically, ‘vintage’ refers to clothing that comes from the 1940s-60s, and ‘retro’ means from the 1960s-80s, however most vintage or retro shops sell clothes from many different eras. They are different from charity shops in that the clothes will generally be more expensive than a charity shop, sometimes only a little more, sometimes a great deal more, and the money goes to the shop owners, rather than a charity.
Positives: Prices are still generally cheaper than in high-street shops (though this is not the case if the shop sells vintage designer clothing). Also, vintage shops are stocked full of quirky, original versions of trends that are currently in fashion, so you can follow trends but still look different. As well as that, they also stock second-hand clothing that is not currently on trend, so you don’t have to dress like everyone else!
Negatives: Can be very expensive! Also, not all towns have vintage shops, whereas there are charity shops everywhere.
Car boot sales
These are my favourite method of getting hold of second-hand clothes, because there is a whole ritual that comes with car boot sales: they normally take place on a Saturday or Sunday morning in a large car park somewhere, and you have to get there early (normally from 7 a.m.) to get the best bargains. I get a weird kind of excitement from setting my alarm clock for 6 a.m. the night before a car boot sale, and when I come away from them at 10 a.m. with armfuls of goodies, I still have the whole day ahead of me! Also, they sell much more than just clothes (e.g. furniture, household goods, books) – the first time I went to a car boot sale, I returned with an antique trunk that I’ve taken to university with me.
Positives: Prices are probably the cheapest out of the three (e.g. a top for 50p), as the sellers want to get rid of what they’re selling, so are open to a bit of haggling. Also, the fact that they’re outdoors is quite good fun (unless it’s raining …)
Negatives: The location means that there is no opportunity to try on clothes before you buy them, which has meant that I’ve purchased items that I’ve never used since.