Hurrah! It’s the most wonderful time of year – Secondhand September, a chance to reflect on our wardrobe choices and inspire a more conscious curation of clothes. Started by Oxfam as a way to encourage others to only shop vintage and preloved for the entire month, it’s the perfect time to celebrate all things secondhand.
While shopping secondhand shouldn’t be limited to the month of September – being a conscious shopper needs to be a priority year-round – we thought we’d take this opportunity to open up our wardrobes and share a few of our favourite thrifted finds.
COMMUNITY AND PARTNERSHIPS MANAGER
I have always loved the treasure hunt of op-shopping; the hours you can spend click-click-clicking through the racks, the triumph of finding the perfect thing. But, a changing body and a limit on my time (both courtesy of a couple of children) has meant that I just do not have the leisurely afternoons or thrifting luck that I once had in my youth.
Luckily, the internet exists, so I can still op-shop from the comfort of my own bed! I spoke a little over on our latest Monthly Mint about my experiences with Depop and the problems with secondhand apps like it. But, when used consciously, sites like Depop can bring a wealth of secondhand delights! Case in point: this perfect denim jacket I spent days searching for (its own version of click, click, click) and mint-condition rose gold sneakers from the amazing Australian label Elk.
SEWING CONTENT COORDINATOR
For me, op-shopping is often a family affair. I love hitting up Vinnies with my mum and sister – even my grandma, when she’s in the mood for some vintage fashion, though for her, is it just fashion? My sister in particular is a bit of a whiz kid at op-shops. She can walk in, look around for like a second and pull three absolute finds off the rack just like that. A true secondhand savant.
Perhaps it’s fitting that my favourite secondhand piece wasn’t bought but is a hand-me-down from my beloved mumsy. She bought this Laura Ashley dress in Sydney sometime in the late 80s and it served her faithfully and fashionably through many years until it grew old and faded and worn, kept lovingly in the back of her wardrobe until one fateful day it was gifted to me. Even though it fits me perfectly, I still feel like a little girl playing dress up in her mum’s clothes when I wear it. Maybe because the basque waist and swishy skirt make it the perfect pretty princess dress I dreamed of when I was younger.
DIGITAL AND ASSISTANT EDITOR
There’s nothing I love more than an afternoon spent thrifting – hunting for the perfect vintage piece, recreating cringey 90s movie montages. My collection of cowboy boots and jackets far too warm for the Brisbane climate is testament to this. Thrifting while traveling is always a must – the ultimate souvenir to remember a time and place – so choosing a favourite piece from my wardrobe proved to be a tough ask. Thankfully, there’s nothing the Peppermint office enjoys more than a good jumpsuit so my choice was basically made for me.
Say hello to this epic black velvet number found in a vintage market close to home. And I mean… can you even with that back quilting?! The label says ‘Daily Planet’ which, after a cursory google, suggests it’s from the 70s but I’m not 100% sure on account of the newspaper from Spiderman and a certain Melbourne brothel making the search impossible. If you have any insider knowledge please slide into my DMs. It’s served me through many festivals and nights out dancing and as Michelle, our lovely advertising manager, said to me as I walked into the office this morning, “You look like Catwoman!” I’ll take that as a win.
Op-shopping was just shopping when I was a kid – my mum didn’t have the cash to buy new but it was amazing how well she dressed (and how much stuff we had). Fast-forward to 1995 in San Francisco on a month-long trek around North America that I probably couldn’t really afford, when I found myself needing a warmer coat than anything I owned (given that I lived in the sub-tropics). The Goodwill Store was unlike any of the pokey op-shops that I had been to – a cavernous shell of ordered racks and colour-coded denim (plus a good bit of vinyl, leather and feathers given I was in the gay capital of the world at the time). It was the department-store op-shop that we now see everywhere.
I slipped into this navy military jacket and wore it for the rest of my trip. It kept me warm, I could dress it up or down, survive a downpour, wear it all day and sleep in it on those overnight train trips. I still love it and love that the bulky shoulders keep trending in and out. For more than just sentimental reasons, it has survived every wardrobe cull over the last 26 years.
I’m certainly not the first to say this in this article, but thrifting and op-shopping holds a really special place in my heart, tugging on some really strong nostalgic threads. Much like Mara, the wardrobe of my youth was mostly courtesy of the trusty op-shop and my mum was a huge fan of thrifted treasure. She was a classic upcycler; taking the loot and transforming pieces into something that would be worn and treasured for years to come. I remember the magical feeling of watching a fur coat become Douglas from Where the Wild Things Are for a book week when I was six.
Context aside, my love for thrifting has continued (though at a diminished frequency and intensity as per Caitlin’s reasons) and both the dress and scarf I’m wearing are the product of op-shopping on borrowed time when my son wasn’t mobile.
The dress I found in one of Berkeley’s many thrift and consignment stores, and it was love at first sight. Again, the nostalgia factor was high with this one because, having spent quite a few of my early years in southern California, this style of embroidered Mexican dress was part of my regular dressing repertoire (credit to my mum on that one again). I think it’s actually home-sewn because the seams are unfinished and there’s something endearingly wonky about the donkey and the sombrero-wearing person. This spunky pink colour (another mainstay of my youth, which I rebelled against for a while), along with the cactus and general summery vibe has made it my Queensland hot-weather go-to! Though, unlike the similar dresses of my childhood, this cotton is (weirdly) oppressively thick and decidedly unbreezy…
The second item here is this AHMAZING Kenzo silk scarf (BNWT) that I stumbled upon in Wellington, which is home to some ultra-cool vintage and thrift stores, Wellingtonians being the super-hip people they are. I have a strict-ish thrifting ground rule that if I find 100% natural fibres like silk or linen, then I buy them no matter what the item is. It’s led to some interesting purchases but anything I’m unsure of style-wise I try to upcycle somehow. Luckily, the bold and repeating tiger pattern and colour clash of this also tipped me over the line with this piece – I was instantly committed… And stayed that way through the stomach-dropping moment at the checkout where the $15 I thought I saw on the tag as it lay in the scarf jumble basket became $150 – eek! It was part embarrassment, part not wanting to live with the thrift regret (I’ve been there before) that made me go through with it, and here I am four years later still loving its silky tiger vibes!
I’ve always been an avid op-shopper, having grown up in a small town at the bottom of New Zealand. Invercargill was not exactly the fashion capital of the world, and so op-shops were my escape from the boring reality to be found in the very few local clothing stores (think the Blouse Barn in Schitt’s Creek). My mum used to say that my bestie and I “lived like millionaires on the dole” – we used to swan around town in secondhand faux fur jackets, vintage dresses that were hastily taken up (usually with hemming tape, or if I’m honest, cellotape) and anything dug out of discount charity bins that we deemed to be fun and fabulous.
Fast-forward to now, and I still love the thrill of digging through op-shops, and not just because of the obvious environmental factor. Being a size 16 can make it harder to find treasures (and I am also notorious for buying things that don’t fit with the intention of fixing them) so finding a good local dressmaker has been a godsend. This gingham linen dress was spotted in an op-shop in Caloundra for $4! I couldn’t walk away from it even though it was an 18 and didn’t fit, but my lovely dressmaker has worked her magic, and it’s now a fave find. My denim jacket is from a vintage store in Scotland – I had been searching for a long time for the perfect style and so I lugged this in my luggage back home on my travels and it’s been worn and loved through many winters since.