My beloved Chanel jacket was waiting for me on the rails of Designer Exchange. It was love at first sight
There’s been a welcome shift in the tectonic plates of planet fashion – and it’s made ‘something old, something new and something borrowed’ my new wardrobe mantra. Point me in the direction of a preloved designer store, a vintage shop tucked away on a busy high street or an antiques fair in a grassy field, and I can’t wait for the thrill of the chase to begin.
Fashion trends went largely unnoticed over the past 18 months thanks to the pandemic. Many resorted to expanding their loungewear collection – a seemingly never-ending movement which personally gave me chills rather than thrills.
Instead, during that weird fashion blackout, I swapped hours browsing the new with time spent unearthing the old. This happily sustainable habit hasn’t got remotely boring as we move into the post-Covid fashion world.
What excites me about browsing the rails of a preloved or vintage store is the constant element of surprise, the unique, the unpredictable. Everything is one-off and you pick up items that look wonderfully chic and stylish when mixed with the new.
A vintage piece adds texture, character and interest to your wardrobe – often becoming the talking point of an evening. When I do buy something, I always wonder about its previous life and imagine the adventures it has been on.
Sometimes in fashion the old seems bold and new while the new can seem oddly predictable. Especially when it’s all over social media (like that Loewe straw basket you suddenly can’t escape from). Not only do my finds add gravitas to my wardrobe, they can teach the younger, more trendy items in there a thing or two about longevity.
My favourite discoveries so far include a black and white Chanel jacket from the early 2000s, a 1990s slouchy shoulder bag by Gucci, a green velvet Dolce & Gabbana jacket for £25 and, from a recent antiques fair, a wooden jewellery box with embroidered light blue lining as well as a chunky gold pinkie ring that fits like a glove.
My best advice when shopping for preloved fashion is only to buy things that complement your signature style – not just because they carry a covetable designer label. As well as the best local charity stores, my favourite places to discover new wardrobe treasures are Designer Exchange (online and in store), Vestiaire (they have a great app), Loop Generation and Cudoni (both online) and Paris-based Collector Square (Paris in store and online).
For jewellery and antiques, I love Sunbury Antiques (every second Tuesday at Kempton, Surrey) and Maud Vaughan (online).
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This elegantly draped Vivienne Westwood dress will take you from desk to dinner. Dress, £55, uk.designerexchange.com. Pair a white shirt with these timeless Gabriela Hearst trousers now and a black knit in autumn. Trousers, £77, loop-generation.com
Unique and stylish, you won’t see many of these Loewe bags on social media. Bag, £390, loop-generation.com. A fisherman’s rib from Chloé in this season’s hottest shade. Jumper, £95, cudoni.com
Chic and oversized from Prada. Sunglasses, £120, uk.designerexchange.com. Pin a little luxe to every jacket with this Chanel pearl brooch. Brooch, £390, loop-generation.com.