For the past several seasons, I've created outfit posts featuring our bags alongside a range of different looks. It's a great illustration of how versatile our capacious clutches are, and is also an opportunity to shine a spotlight on lots of amazing ethical clothing brands out there - all items of clothing, pairs of shoes and coordinating accessories are from a sustainable label.
I've always said in each post that the idea is to create more of a mood board than a shopping list - inspiration to put things you already own together in different ways, or to borrow a statement piece from a friend, or perhaps to find one or two special items you do want to invest in, and to make the rest of your wardrobe work around them.
This time, it felt right to do something a bit different: our winter looks are all pulled together from secondhand pieces. While I love spotlighting other ethical brands, I was drawn back to the 'Buyerarchy of Needs' and this post by Anuschka Rees and inspired to think outside the box. It may be the time of year - January can be a long month with money tight after holiday parties and gifts - or it may be the season of my own life (I have nailed secondhand shopping lately and am loving it) but I wanted to show the huge variety of options that are out there when you're not fixated on buying things brand new. As Rees writes, "supporting ethical brands is only the tip of the iceberg of a whole set of strategies you can use [to build an ethical wardrobe]. Either one of them reduces your personal contribution to the negative impact the fast fashion industry has on workers and the environment."
Shopping secondhand is super sustainable, extending the lifespan of clothing and keeping it out of landfill. You can build up your wardrobe on a very tight budget without supporting fast fashion - but do still be sure to choose pieces you love that will last you a long time. Feel weird about buying secondhand footwear? Don't forget it doesn't necessarily mean they've been worn - there are countless pairs out there bought on a impulse, never worn and in need of a good home! Set your searches to 'brand new with tags' (BNWT) or 'brand new in box' (BNIB) and rescue them from shoe purgatory.
Here are a few great places to look for secondhand fashion:
- Secondhand/charity shops on the high street: you get to try things on and actually be sure they fit and look as chic as you hope they will! That too and your money goes to a great cause if you're scouring the charity shops. Just this weekend I picked up a soft, finely knit striped M&S jumper in immaculate condition from my local Scope shop. It's timeless, coordinates with most other skirts/jeans in my wardrobe, it's appropriate for at least three out of four seasons in this country, and cost a fiver. Boom.
- Oxfam online. Oh yes! Good search filters, decent item photography, fixed price delivery, a solid return/refund policy and a treasure trove of clothing for men, women and kids. Did you know Oxfam have a partnership with Marks and Spencer, selling past season/end of line M&S clothes, shoes and accessories brand new at a big markdown?
- eBay. Oh my heart. I have a longstanding eBay 'problem' (the postman surely knows when I'm in town, and most likely loathes me) but is it a problem really?! I mean, it's pretty much thanks to eBay that I've been able to build up a winter wardrobe again lately after years of living in hot climates, and all on a tight budget. It's certainly more of a gamble than shopping in person as you can't often return items, but you can increase your chances of a wardrobe match made in heaven by sticking to brands you definitely know your size in, and so on. It's a fun site for affordable vintage clothing too. Be wary of the super cheap 'buy it now' new garments from China - I always set my filter to view auction items only.
- Vinted and Depop are two newer marketplaces for buying and selling secondhand clothes. Depop in particular has a very Instagrammy vibe - neatly displayed square photos, 'likes', the ability to 'follow' your favourite sellers. I'm unafraid of eBay bidding wars or the patience needed to wait for an auction to end, but I can see the appeal of Vinted and Depop's fixed price, immediate purchase model. I haven't bought anything from these sites yet but will certainly be checking them out next time I'm looking for something in particular.
- Secondhand clothing isn't just for tight budgets. There's a good market for rehoming luxury designer wear too, including sites like Rebelle, where trained experts check the quality and authenticity of pieces before they're sent out. I haven't bought anything via Rebelle because it just ain't that season of my life, but the search functions are excellent and it's a pleasant site to browse. Though I will say, money doesn't necessarily buy style - there is some weird stuff on there!
Having waxed lyrical about alternatives to buying new, one sticking point - isn't it sending mixed signals styling our (new) bags with these preloved outfits? No, I don't think so, just as I don't feel it's hypocritical to be creating new, ethical products. Sustainable fashion encompasses many different ways to make a difference. I feel like the way forward with my own shopping is to find what I can secondhand, alongside investment pieces from ethical brands that I know I will use for a very long time. Loved clothes last, and I hope you truly love your Gold is a Neutral bag!
The Dhaniben clutch, featuring hand-dyed indigo cotton, coordinates with the denim skirt while the pattern is subtle enough not to clash with the plaid coat.
- Plaid coat, New Look via Vinted
- Cashmere sweater in Turmeric, ASOS via eBay
- Cashmere sweater in Camel, M&S Autograph via eBay
- Blue denim mini skirt with raw hem, H&M via Depop
- Faux suede ankle boots, new with tags, M&S Collection via Oxfam
- Black tights, new with tags, M&S via eBay
- Sunglasses, Dolce & Gabbana via Rebelle
This is a super textural look with the fluffy coat, frayed denim and smooth cotton - our hand-embroidered Salma clutch takes these textures up onto a really luxe level, with the magenta stitches making the blush hoodie pop.
- Grey boucle teddy coat, new with tags, Boohoo via eBay
- Beige teddy coat, Topshop via Depop
- Pink hoodie, Topshop via Depop
- Jeans, new without tags, Hollister via Depop
- White trainers, unworn, unbranded via Vinted
- Grey wool beanie, unworn, Mango via Vinted
Image credit one and two
This chic look is neat with bold colours and clean lines. I love the indigo blue Sherbanu clutch with this outfit - it echoes the same tones as the denim, and really pops alongside the bright red coat.
- Sherbanu clutch, Gold is a Neutral
- Red cashmere coat (left), Luciano Barbera via Rebelle
- Red coat, new with tags, Dorothy Perkins via Depop
- Fine knit black polo neck jumper, Nicole Farhi via Oxfam
- Blue cotton jeans, J Brand via Rebelle
- Nude heels with black toe caps, Zara via eBay
- Chunky sunglasses, Chanel via Depop
I love this combination of monochrome checks with mustard yellow. Adding another pattern into the mix could look messy but the palette of the Sakina clutch has just the right tone to play off the mustard perfectly.
- Sakina clutch, Gold is a Neutral
- White roll neck jumper, New Look via Vinted
- Cashmere beanie hat, unworn, Cos via eBay
- Mustard yellow chunky cardigan, H&M via Depop
- Checked trousers, French Connection via Rebelle
- Black brogue shoes, New Look via Vinted
Image credit one and two
Snuggly sweaters and above-the-knee skirts are pretty much my winter uniform. You can keep it very simple or take it towards a full-on Clueless vibe with some yellow tartan. I wouldn't mix the Mumtaz clutch with that ("Ugh, as if!") but the navy and yellow looks perfect with these neutral and berry tones.
- Mumtaz clutch, Gold is a Neutral
- Berry coloured jumper, Jigsaw via eBay
- White cashmere sweater, The Mercer N.Y. via Rebelle
- Black cord button up skirt, New Look via Vinted
- Grey pleated mini skirt, Hobbs via Oxfam
- Faux suede knee high boots, new without box, brand unknown via Depop
- Black tights, new with tags, New Look via eBay
- Cashmere scarf, Gucci via Rebelle
Image credit one and two
What do you think? Would you consider shopping secondhand more often, knowing the huge variety of good quality garments out there? Check out the Instagrammers @notbuyingnew, @charityshopcloset and @igotitfromacharityshop for lots more inspiration!