Clarke Gayford (left) and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (right) on the red carpet at the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards 2017 – Jacinda wears a Juliette Hogan dress and carries a faux fur jacket she bought from a second-hand store. Image supplied.
We all love to follow what celebs are trying out, what products or hacks they swear by, and like me, look to what they’re wearing. We see them as an irrefutable voice on ‘stylish’. When reading magazines or scrolling websites and social media, over 80% of us ask ourselves the same question ‘Can I do that?’, ‘Can I wear that?’, ‘Can I afford that?’ and ‘Can I replicate that?’
With the effects COVID-19 has had on us all, the question of ‘Can I afford that?’ is one that is being asked by a lot of people. It is almost impossible to find someone who hasn’t been impacted and collectively are reconsidering many elements of our lives – from travel all the way down to our wardrobe. We are also choosing to vote with our dollar, asking ourselves do I invest in staple pieces that will last a lifetime, or buy cheaper items which will likely only last a season or two. Enter pre-loved. This shopping philosophy not only allows you to find good quality clothing, but also find items that are not going to hurt your wallet.
I cannot think of any better representation of confidence and beauty, than someone who is unafraid to buy and wear items they love. To shop pre-loved is to shop bravely. It is to buy clothes that do not necessarily fit the latest trend mould… but they fit your mould. It is about discovering your personal brand, having the courage to express yourself and being unafraid to make something your own. To buy pre-loved and second hand goes against our well cultivated mass shopping consumer culture, put simply, we are obsessed with buying the latest and the greatest. But there is a new view that is fast emerging: Shopping pre-loved and finding quality vintage pieces is in fact a major statement that has the power to transform you into an informed, intelligent and conscious shopper.
Going back to our celebrity style icons, how many famous women and men can you name who like to buy pre-loved designer and vintage pieces? Your first question might be ‘why would a celebrity need to buy pre-loved or vintage?’ Well they do it for the same reasons as everyone – they too want to stand out, state their unique style and contribute to environmental sustainability. Some just love the hunt and the thrill of finding unique pieces that they can wear everywhere.
There is an expectation that celebrities dress in designer labels and coveted luxury brands. However, before they found fame, many admit that they were thrift and second hand shoppers (also termed consignment shopping), with some still choosing to shop this way. Certified style icon Sarah Jessica Parker is a pre-loved shopper and was before Sex and the City skyrocketed her to fame. When searching for style inspiration, she would ask herself ‘How can I do that?’, ‘How can I afford that?’, ‘What is my version of that?’ and would then go out and find it in a thrift store. Thrift stores didn’t just play a big part in her personal life. For the show Divorce, which aired for three seasons, many of SJP’s character’s outfits were found at thrift stores in New York and tailored to fit. Do you love her that bit more?
Just like SJP, the ever sophisticated Jada Pinkett Smith who is known to have a creative sense of style, (aka having the confidence to wear what she likes), has been photographed numerous times over the last seven years with daughter Willow, on mother and daughter thrift outings. The beloved Helen Mirren, who you might think has a team of stylists to shop on her behalf is a long-time advocate of second hand shopping. – “I love a good charity shop, especially when I’m traveling. When I’m going to cold places, I take nothing – just underwear. On my way from the airport, I ask the driver to take me to a good charity shop, and I buy boots, socks, trousers, jumpers, sweaters, hats and scarves… On the way back to the airport, I have it all in a big bag and drop it off at another charity shop,” she says.
Actress Jennifer Aniston wears a 1999 Dior by John Galliano gown at the SAG Awards in January 2020.
Shailene Woodley has long been environmentally conscious and wears only thrift and second hand clothes outside of movie roles. “I exclusively buy used clothes (except for work). I’m going to be a citizen of this planet, and I’m going to do my responsibility and live in stride with nature instead of constantly fighting against her.” Drew Barrymore has numerous times been quoted saying that she loves a bargain and will only buy designer if it is on sale. She also claims she isn’t too good to wear second hand clothing and her famous red carpet moment in 2010 when she wore a $25 thrift shop dress, is still talked about. There are so many more A-listers such as Kristen Bell, Alicia Silverstone, Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway and Zac Efron who advocate for thrift shopping.
New Zealand’s own Lorde, has over the years shared with journalists her love of thrift shopping and one find that found its way onstage multiple times was a St. John suit from a US Palm Beach store for $50 USD (more than she said she likes to spend). We know Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern proudly wears New Zealand labels but did you know she and fiancé Clarke Gayford are fans of op shopping? Media were abuzz at the 2017 Vodafone NZ Music Awards when she admitted on the red carpet her faux fur was a find from a second-hand store in Hastings a few years before. And of course, we remember the photos of Jacinda Ardern and Clarke Gayford leaving hospital after the birth of their daughter Neve but the less known fact is that the grey button up cardigan Clarke was wearing, was in fact an op-shop find.
As thrift shopping grows in popularity and we warm to the idea of buying pre-loved and second hand, we are also seeing more celebrities turn to vintage. Vintage is a colloquial term used to refer to all old styles of clothing and is also used to indicate that a garment is at least 20 years old. Winona Ryder, who is not only a great actress and a fashion icon for casual, is one Hollywood actress who is happy to buy second hand and wear favourite pieces multiple times – and shouldn’t we all? A lot of her wardrobe is vintage and she has happily stated that she has worn dresses to the Oscars over the years that cost her $10 USD. I do wonder if vintage creates an opportunity for celebrities to individualise their look while also making a silent stand and not contributing to fashion waste. No matter the underlying reason, celebrities wearing vintage and pre-loved items is driving re-sale and second hand movements worldwide.
The red carpet is known as the place to showcase off-the-catwalk and custom made designs, but did you know that many celebs choose to wear vintage or pre-loved garments? Reportedly the first celebrity to do so was Demi Moore who, in 1992, wore a vintage gown to the Oscars from LILY et Cie, who now rotate approximately 5000 garments. The dress was thought to be from the late 1940’s or early 50’s and was labelled a studio dress as it was made for one of the movie studios. This helped to launch not only LILY et Cie but also vintage in Hollywood. Of course it would be easier to ask who didn’t see Jennifer Aniston wearing a stunning 1999 Dior by John Galliano gown at the SAG Awards in January this year. The gown that set the internet alight was from LILY et Cie and through her stylist, Jennifer Aniston has actually been dipping into the archives of some of the biggest fashion houses for years. Fast forward to the Oscars in February and Margot Robbie also wore vintage, choosing a 1994 Haute Couture Chanel black strapless dress.
Off the red carpet and to another style icon, Meghan Markle has been known to champion sustainable fashion. She has been seen wearing eco-friendly shoes and supports a number of socially responsible labels, and is an avid vintage shopper. Throughout her pregnancy, Meghan’s vintage maternity outfits became a global obsession. From 1960’s trapeze cut coats, to Courrèges couture (who created simple, geometric modern designs including the little white dress and pants that she wore for her baby shower), Meghan Markle made serious fashion noise. And it seems that she is not alone. Amal Clooney also wore many vintage pieces during her pregnancy and continues to dip into vintage fashion for many of the events she attends. In fact, it is thought that Meghan and Amal might even procure their vintage garments from the same vintage store in London – William Vintage – which holds a vast number of vintage pieces from the likes of Yves Saint Laurent, Versace and Lanvin.
Lorde is a big fan of pre-loved clothing and wears a St. John suit she found at a thrift store.
As those with influence continue to make way for sustainable fashion, we can start to see fashion and the pre-loved industry grow and change. From vintage and pre-loved boutiques to second hand and thrift shops, our market is fast expanding to suit all budgets and shopping lists. If you’re not sure where to start, get curious and start by entering a pre-loved or vintage re-seller. Look at what you are drawn to, is it certain items of clothing, styles or colours? Or are you a label shopper?
Advice for shopping well:
– Have an idea of what you need. Take pictures of key items from your wardrobe you want to match, or take a piece of clothing with you to try on with potential finds if you are after something specific.
– If you are shopping vintage think about the decade or era that influences you and works for your shape.
– Do not follow the size of the garment alone, try them on. When shopping vintage, it is good to know women and men were smaller than now, so sizing will be different. It’s a good idea to start looking for a size maybe two up from current standards. You may also find designer labels have you at a size smaller than you are used to shopping for.
– Research and invest in a personal stylist who is happy to help you start on your pre-loved or vintage journey. They can assess your wardrobe and accompany you to selected stores. They also know what to look for in a piece of clothing and will be able to share with you invaluable knowledge.
– If it is your first time, buy from an expert. Owners of vintage boutiques should be able to size you up and know what era and style will work for you and your shape. Staff at pre-loved boutiques are also full of style knowledge.
– Check each item for stains and marks and never be afraid to turn the item inside out to check hems, arm holes and cuffs and pay close attention to zips and buttons. Hems and the armhole area can be the first places to show signs of wear. If a button is missing and needs to be replaced you will have to decide if you want to change them all or swap buttons around.
– Look for the label and know that it’s OK to search up the label while instore. Ask yourself whether the brand aligns with your values? Does the company make good quality clothing? Is the brand socially responsible?
– Look online. Most re-sellers have a website and social media pages you can check over before you enter the store. Their online presence also works well for shopping online if you know the store and your sizing for vintage or a designer brand.
Meghan Markle wears a Courrèges black vintage coat.