In honour of Earth Day, I’m letting IMAGE readers in on my best kept secrets for shopping great vintage online
There’s been a lot of discourse online the past few weeks about the ethics of shopping during lockdown. Do you find yourself still scrolling through the New In section, or has the fashion part of your brain switched off completely? Should we even be sending our money to fast fashion giants at a time like this (or at all) or should be conserving our money for more worthy causes? Should we feel good or bad about getting dressed up? Fashion as a game of ethics has suddenly been thrust to the forefront, even though it should have been dealt with as such a long time ago.
The way I see it, dressing up, loving fashion and feeling good about yourself in the process can only be a good thing. As we enter week 6 of lockdown measures, any method to help your mood and self-confidence is necessary. The best way to do so is to show some love to the most sustainable pieces around – the ones you already own. Shopping your own wardrobe and finding new ways to combine the pieces you already love is by far the most sustainable and ethical way to enjoy fashion during this time. But if you do feel like you’re in need of some new life in your wardrobe, shopping vintage is the next best thing.
Secondhand and vintage clothing is often of better quality than many of today’s fast fashion options, and has the added bonus of being completely unique – buying a vintage dress means there’s little chance of running into someone on the street with the same one. Add the plus of saving the planet from another landfill-heading fast fashion purchase, and vintage shopping becomes a no brainer.
In honour of Earth Day today, I’ve switched my sights from ASOS and Topshop to my online vintage stores of choice, and have rediscovered, as I always do, how much more fun they are to shop. Trawling through pages of vintage treats, that are totally unique and fabulously creative, gives you a shopping buzz that fast fashion just doesn’t come close to. I’ve visited my fair share of online vintage hubs and while many of them fall flat, there are some that truly stand the test of the competitive Instagram shopping world, and come out with gems again and again.
Here, I’m sharing my favourite places to source truly great vintage fashion online. Go forth and find some gems (but not if I get there first).
Imparfaite (the French word for ‘imperfect’) is a French vintage shopping platform that curates great pieces from vintage sellers in France and allows you to shop them all on their website. Imparfaite can be a little expensive so if you’re looking for cheap finds, this may not be the place. But its selection is consistently brilliant, and if you’re willing to risk the wait, their sales give great discounts.
If you’re looking for the French girl aesthetic, with loads of great vintage Levi’s, white frilly blouses, cropped cardigans and simple accessories, this is the place to go. You can be guaranteed an effortlessly chic look from this collection, instead of the madcap, thrown-together looks from other vintage sellers online.
Dress (size 10), €49 from Imparfaite
Austrian cardigan (size 8), €69 from Imparfaite
Kenzo denim vest (size 10-12), €69 from Imparfaite
Etsy is hands-down my favourite source for all things vintage, but it’s especially great for prairie dresses. That vintage Laura Ashley look that has stormed back into fashion this past year is available in spades on Etsy, and at much lower prices than you might expect.
You can find anything on Etsy, from any era, but just make sure to use the search function properly, and be willing to scroll through a lot of pages to find what you’re looking for. I’ve found dupes for Batsheva dresses for under €40, Burberry lookalikes for under €30, and more floral blouses than I’m willing to admit, all at very reasonable prices.
Pink ruffled 70’s prairie dress (size 12-14), €39.45 from Etsy
Vintage 70s Bavarian Dress (size M/L), €25 from Etsy
70s Empire line flared sleeve maxi dress (size S/M), €107.60 from Etsy
Beyond Retro has a massive selection of vintage – everything from 80’s power blazers to 50’s demure dresses is represented here. Admittedly, not all of it is brilliant, but if you’re willing to search, there are some truly great vintage pieces in here, especially their sequinned and party selection (which often goes for double the price on different sites).
Beyond Retro as a business is also a pioneer of sustainable fashion, running great schemes like their Return & Earn policy, which encourages customers to return their vintage buys up to 12 months after purchasing for 30% off other vintage on the site. It’s a great alternative to spend your money here, where it will really be put to better use.
1980S single-breasted coat dress, €39 approx. from Beyond Retro
Button front blazer, €39 approx. from Beyond Retro
1990s silk beaded evening top, €36 from Beyond Retro
Read more: Fabrics to avoid and embrace if you want to make more sustainable fashion choices
Read more: Instagram flea markets and online sewing classes: how Sustainable Fashion Dublin is thriving during Covid-19