After my Sister-in-law Gemma and I had some fabulous food (which I wrote about here) we started our hunt for some fabulous vintage clothing.
I completed my year with “No New Clothes” in 2016 and you can see my various posts about that under the “No New Clothes” section of the blog. During that time and pretty much ever since I have only bought clothes that are second hand (from charity or vintage shops), new clothes for essentials where you can’t buy these items second hand (leggings, socks etc) or vegan slogan clothes (these I will look into to see where they are made, materials they are made out of and I am glad to say that nearly all the vegan clothes I have bought are carbon neutral).
Over the past few weeks I have noticed that two of my jersey work dresses have got a bit threadbare and started developing small holes. I have had these dresses for around 6 – 7 years and have worn them two to three times a month each since then. Both these dresses were bought in sales from Next and Monsoon so their price per wear must be minuscule!
I definitely needed some “new to me” clothes and Gemma and I had spoken about going to Brick Lane for a long time but never got around to it so we decided this was the weekend!
You have to have patience to go vintage shopping. Some shops are better than others (similar to charity shops). Most shops are sorted by item type (dresses/tops/trousers etc) few are sorted by size. You also cannot trust the sizing on the original label (unless it is in inches) as sizing has changed so much through the decades. Good vintage shops will have sized the garment on the price tag and also noted the era and the material.
Vintage shopping as a vegan has its own obstacles. There are a lot of animal products in vintage clothing. Fur is usually very obvious and easy to avoid (I didn’t see much fur on this shopping trip, although this may be due to the time of year). Silk and wool can be harder to spot but are usually highlighted on the label. Anything leather looking I would avoid. Most vintage shoes will be leather, so finding a vegan shoe in your size and a style you like is like finding a needle in a haystack.
Try clothes on! As said above you cannot trust the sizing and the cut may be different to what you are used to. Returns policies are usually quite strict if existing at all.
Do not be afraid to haggle! If you don’t ask you don’t get. If a button is missing, there is a small stain or you are buying multiple items ask for a discount! If something doesn’t fit perfectly judge the price of the item and how much work there would be altering it to make it fit you better. If it’s under £20 and just needs a bit of shortening here or an extra stitch there it may be worth it. Also assess your own sewing skills, whether you have friends or family who can help (hi Mum!) or if you would need to pay to have something professionally altered.
The first dress I bought was from Brick Lane Vintage. I love this 90’s Tommy Hilfiger stripey tennis dress, especially because it has pockets! This is a great casual dress and great when you’re going away as its a whole outfit and doesn’t take up much room in the luggage.
Next we went to Search and Destroy who have two shops on Cheshire Street just off Brick Lane. I bought three dresses here all in completely different styles. The owner told me these were all purchased on a recent trip to California. The first is a black and orange 70’s kaftan. I have wanted a kaftan for a while now and this is seriously the most comfortable thing I have ever worn, and will definitely get a lot of use this summer! My next dress is a 50’s red number, I love the bow details on the waist and at the neck, this dress is also light weight so I can wear it in the summer or pair it with thick tights and a cardigan in the winter.
My last dress from Search and Destroy is a black 70’s dress with a large colour panel on the bodice. This dress also has a tie that goes around the back. This dress can easily slip into my work wardrobe and I know I’ll get a lot of use out of it.
I have also been on the look out for jumpsuits so I was in heaven when we chanced upon Franklin Tree in the Vintage Market. They sell vintage, upcycled and hand-made clothes. They had a number of jumpsuits in a variety of styles and fabrics of which I tried on many, They are all one size so hang looser the smaller you are. The black halter neck is fixed with the tie at the front so this can be made tighter or looser as needed. Again you can wear a variety of shirts under these and I think they will see me through many seasons of the year.
Lastly we have this headscarf which I actually bought first but I can’t remember the name of the shop. I really loved the print on this one and as I can’t do much with my hair at its current length so I love wrapping a scarf around it.
The most important thing I will say is look after your vintage clothes. Do not hang them on wire coat hangers. Wash them as little as possible, when you do wash them, hand wash is best or if you are going to machine wash them do so on 30 degrees. If they are particularly delicate place them inside a pillowcase before you put them in the machine.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post and if you have some fave vintage shops in London let me know in the comments below.