The Virtues of Vintage: A Guide to Second-Hand Styling

The Virtues of Vintage: A Guide to Second-Hand Styling

Creating a second-hand wardrobe

Nowadays, the fashion-conscious are shopping under the guidance of their moral compass. Buzzwords like “fast fashion” have risen to become staples in the garment-glossary as the issue of mass-producing low-quality, fleetingly trendy clothing continues to appear less and less sustainable.

There has been a marked uptick in conscious consumerism as of late, wherein Millennials and Gen-Z buyers are opting for timeless styles and high-quality pre-loved gear when shopping for clothes and accessories, such as vintage denim and preloved handbags.

The styles incorporating vintage or retro second-hand fashion are various, including streetwear, pin-up and rockabilly, as well as grunge looks which are all making a mighty comeback as the public looks to be ethical in their fashion choices.

In an age where self-exploration is encouraged, buyers aren’t constrained exclusively to one way of dressing, and many are creating hybrid looks that borrow from vintage ’50s styles as well as contemporary threads. For instance, laying the foundation of your second-hand wardrobe with modern basics, such as slacks, jeans and sturdy boots is a good place to start.

Springboarding from there, the buying process should be enjoyable rather than a challenging experience. Think about colour schemes, patterns and accessories you might like to add. Look to Pinterest for inspiration. Are you someone who likes sunglasses? Do you like to hang out in baggy band t-shirts? It’s important to come up with a game plan before setting out to shop, especially if you are going to be visiting physical storefronts.

Places to buy

For some, the ability to touch and try on clothing is non-negotiable. Perhaps you have a tall frame to accommodate or you just appreciate the peace of mind that comes with making your own assessment of the quality of your purchases. No matter the reason, there still exists a laundry list of places to visit for that in-store experience. 

Opportunity shops and thrift stores offer the rare feature of a scavenger hunt for treasures with the bonus of affordability. However, as the majority of op-shops and thrift stores don’t have the stringent quality standards that curated vintage shops do, Shopify recommends that you check your basket load for imperfections before hitting the checkout. Although, if you’re a keen fixer-upper, this may not be a problem when in favour of a bargain and the convenience of buying face to face. Imagine scoring a vintage jumpsuit for a cool $5? Add a pair of kitten heels and cat-eye sunglasses and you’re ready to hit the town in search of more hidden gems.

Other places to explore:

  • Estate sales
  • Garage sales
  • Dedicated vintage and second-hand stores – these tend to be on the pricier side, but you can be sure your purchases are of the highest quality, ethically sourced and long-wearing.
  • Second-hand markets and exhibitions – don’t underestimate your local market!

How e-commerce is revolutionising buying second-hand

While consumers continue to popularize online shopping, your favourite brick and mortar retailers are taking to the internet to avail themselves of multiple online channels. This creates a wealth of opportunities to hunt down vintage finds from the comfort of your own home. As the demand for second-hand clothing and accessories soar, dedicated smartphone apps and websites are emerging. These include Depop, Carousell, ASOS marketplace and even op shops such as The Salvos and The Online Op Shop who have taken to selling online.

In addition to vintage, retro and pre-owned clothing retailers, social networking sites have paved the way for a sort of internet bazaar. Netizens can shop for second-hand goods, including clothing and accessories, via a range of different channels. As well as the essentials like eBay and Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace has gained public acceptance, with more than 800 million people globally using the feature on a monthly basis to buy, sell and swap goods including items from their closets.

Instagram is also rising as a viable option for exchanging goods, with a large collection of users dedicating profiles to selling genuine vintage, retro and other popular branded second-hand clothing through the app.

eCommerce is not only user-friendly and accessible, with statistics showing that 87.5% of Millennials are enjoying the Buy Now, Pay Later option that online shopping typically carries, making shopping pre-loved from phones and laptops an ever attractive option.


No matter if you’re a seasoned pro at the second-hand style game, or building a blast-from-the-past closet from the ground up, buying options for second-hand goods are at an all-time high. Enjoy browsing online and in-store for high-quality throwback pieces, knowing your purchases are helping to break down fast-fashion one garment at a time.

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