Get creative and forge your own style: Lou Slevin's tips on finding vintage gems during Second Hand September

Lou Slevin shares her favourite vintage pieces and how she finds the gold in charity shops around the city

One week into Second Hand September, we're loving the styling inspiration to be found all over Instagram for vintage and second-hand gems. The fun of shopping second-hand is approaching it with a completely open mind — you never know what you might find, and more often than not, you'll come out of the shop with something completely unexpected.
Owner of vintage mecca Lou's Lot, Lou Slevin is well-versed in the art of rooting out the best second-hand pieces. She consigns vintage and preloved designer items from all over Ireland and Europe, and although she's been tempted to keep pieces in the past, there are gems to be found in her Dublin boutique.
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Slevin sat down with IMAGE to discuss her tips and tricks for finding the best vintage pieces, and changing your mindset to swap to second-hand.

Why do you prefer vintage to fast fashion?

I understand that fast fashion serves a purpose to people. That purpose is being able to buy something you need at an affordable price. However, I believe you can also do this when it comes to vintage — if you know where to look. If you can find good quality pieces that no one else will have at an affordable price, why not choose vintage over fast fashion?
True vintage was made differently. Dresses were actually lined, materials didn't overwhelmingly consist of polyester, and believe it or not, garments were tailored! If you buy a dress from a fast fashion company, chances are it won't be lined, it will more than likely be polyester and follow a 'trendy' untailored pattern that is easy and cheap to reproduce.

What are some of your favourite vintage pieces you've gotten over the years?

I have a preloved black Mulberry Zipped Bayswater handbag in very good condition – a conscious purchase that I know will be sitting in my wardrobe in 30 years' time. Not only can I wear it casually, but I have also worn it to meetings and special occasion events. It's in a classic black colour, so it pretty much goes with everything I have and I get compliments on it all the time.
I rarely keep any of the pieces I buy-in for Lou's Lot but in the early days of the company I got a preloved leopard print Stella McCartney coat in that I just couldn't let go of and now, it's one of my most prized possessions.
I have a true vintage 1970's Levi's t-shirt, which goes perfect with a pair of flare jeans. I have a soft spot for a cute 70's look. I don't like to overdo it, but I like a little nod to it.

What are some of your best tips to find vintage gems?

If you're out and about, charity shops are the way to go. You'll find amazing vintage and preloved pieces at a fraction of the price. My top finds in charity shops have been an authentic Mulberry bag, a Levi's denim jacket, and a stunning black The Kooples dress. If you don't have time to root or you simply don't like rooting, try Etsy. There's an array of cute little vintage shops on this platform!

 

Do you think we're making a big move towards second hand fashion?

Yes, and not only because we should, but because it's fun. It's thrilling to find gems in a charity shop. It feels good to buy and support local vintage traders. There's nothing like having a one-off piece that you can't get anywhere else. And I think people feel creative when they forge their own style instead of just replicating a style that they're told to have.

Are you taking part in Second Hand September?

All going well, I will have a few socially distanced Christmas gatherings to go to, so I think I might pick up a vintage or preloved designer dress for the festive season this month. I'll pair it with one of my vintage designer bags and reworked designer necklaces from Lou's Lot to finish the look off. Second-hand September is a great way to get people into the flow of buying second-hand. For some, it might spark the possibilities of what second-hand can offer and in turn, alter and change a few shopping habits.
I understand that sometimes new is just more affordable. Believe me, I know how a €9 dress is more appealing compared to that of a sustainably made dress for €200. But that's where pre-loved and vintage comes in. It really can provide you with good quality, unique items that come with an affordable price tag.

Read more: 'We are in a new era of consumption': Vestiaire Collective's Sophie Hersan weighs in on the rise of vintage during Covid-19

Read more: Second Hand September starts tomorrow: here are some of my favourite Instagram sellers to kick off with
Read more: Meet the O' Riordans, two of Ireland's most exciting fashion design talents
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