Let’s talk hand-me-downs. I have always loved finding treasures in the pile of clothes that someone no longer wants. Be it a friend, my sister (usually the other way round in this instance), my cousins or even my brother, I love taking a piece of clothing that doesn’t fulfil its owner’s desires and making it my own.
Like many of my friends do for me, I have always given those close to me the pick of the bag before it goes to charity or is auctioned on my Depop. It’s a thrill like no other discovering a funky blouse or another item and knowing it’s free (although at uni I was so poor I actually sold some to friends for something like £4 – desperate times).
It’s a lucky dip; you never know what you might get to try out in your wardrobe and end up loving. And it’s a win-win because both parties have got nothing to lose – one is successfully de-cluttering and the other gains a surprise garment or two.
I think my fondness for pre-loved clothes stems from the chain of hand-me-downs you receive when you’re little (in my case anyway). I would lovingly cling onto anything my cousin donated me as I loved her style (when we had sleepovers we’d swap pyjamas because we both thought the others’ were cooler) and then this grew into sharing clothes with mates as we got older and started experimenting with our styles.
It’s no secret that I love charity shopping, which is becoming increasingly popular with the rise of vintage fashion, but clothes swapping is just as satisfying and soul-warming. Clothes swap events are a fab idea to kickstart the cycle of sharing, meet new like-minded people and an opportunity to give an item a new lease of life. You might style something in a totally different way to the previous owner, and they may conjure up an amazing outfit with that jacket that’s been stuffed in the back of your wardrobe for months.
My shopping habits seem to have curbed recently (you’d think I’d be saving money but I still have no idea where it all goes) because I’m just so busy in both work and private life that I hardly have time to think about it. I’m taking this as a blessing because it’s helping me think more about what I really need and how to spend sensibly; but also a curse because I especially haven’t been able to make the time to go round charity shops recently, which are my favourite kind.
I’ve never seen ‘cast-offs’ as anything to be ashamed of – you’re recycling and contributing to sustainability, and flaunting something unique that probably can’t be bought anymore. We all have evolving tastes and curiosities when it comes to fashion, so it makes senses to acknowledge that and pass things on.
It turns out my timing to visit Newcastle couldn’t have been better as Millie was sorting through her old things and I helped her decide whether each item should go to charity, be listed on Depop, or come home with me. I managed to swipe some Adidas leggings, a smart black dress and this beautiful blue skirt (which is from Sainsbury’s can you believe it).
I came home feeling smug – it’s like shopping but you don’t have the guilt that comes with splurging. Previously I’d have said this skirt isn’t something I would have bought for myself, but having the opportunity to give it a go has totally changed my mind.
Initially I had no clue what to wear with it, but I love the resulting outfit so much I want to share it on here. As the blue is so vibrant I thought about sticking on a white t-shirt and plain shoes, but instead I took inspiration from my forever style icon (Pat Butcher, obvs) and decided to go bold. I even popped on the bright pink lipstick that hides at the bottom of my make-up bag.
The mishmash of prints and textures makes my heart sing – the leopard patterns are completely clashing and I think that’s what makes it such an interesting look. The high waistband cinches in nicely and helps to puff out the shirt (which is a very old vintage find and still one of my favourites) a bit for that baggy effect I so admire. Having a playful v-neck compliments the pleats and keeps the feel pretty casual.
My bag is vintage too (honestly a coincidence, I just realised how much of a second-hand inspired post this actually is) and blends with the colours and retro silhouette really well. Keeping it high-street with the heels, though, which are old from New Look. I rarely wear them and noticed how nicely the leopard print goes with the violet blue (matching the skirt to the scenery was no coincidence I must admit).
The end product is a groovy, garish 80’s vibe and I’m so happy with it. We took these photos while the bluebell fields are still in blossom and the way the light spills through the trees is magical.
I think this ensemble demonstrates how wonderful sharing, swapping or donating clothes can be. A midi skirt is fab through spring and summer and I’m sure this one will be weaving its way into many other colour-block combos throughout the next few months.
ph. Joshua Watkins