Secondhand Clothes Shopping Tips with Allie of @thestyleallie

Allie rocking a vintage 80s Mandy Marsh dress.

Allie rocking a vintage 80s Mandy Marsh dress.

Allie loves that her vintage pieces have lived a life before her. While some may think new is cool, Allie says to know a piece has had another life makes it so much more interesting, “They have seen the world we live in so differently and I'm often writing about how I imagine their previous lives to have been.” Read on for why a secondhand story is more brag-worthy than buying into the newest trend.

So, who are you?

Hi, I'm Allie. I am an avid collector of vintage clothing with a huge passion for celebrating sustainable style and charity shopping. I host #prelovedpretties over on my Instagram blog @thestyleallie where I showcase some incredible examples of why shopping preloved is an amazing alternative to fast fashion. I grew up in East London, where I was massively influenced by the eclectic style of those around me. I now live in the suburbs with my family while working in a vintage charity shop, raising funds for a local hospice and indulging my creative side styling the most incredible collection of vintage pieces.

How do you describe your style? 

I would definitely describe my style as eclectic. I take influences from everywhere and when building an outfit I tend to be led by the prints and colors in the main piece. I adore the 40s silhouette but love the punch of the 80s so have a fondness for the cheeky 80s-does-40s looks. I love a cinched-in waist and have a huge collection of vintage belts to create them, as well as a love for a cute peplum and power shoulders. Another era that has my heart is the 70s; I adore the romance of the flowing sleeves teamed with the vibrant prints. I basically wear what sings to me and my look will be defined by my mood that day. It's almost as though I am a character in my own movie and clothes help me decide the plot that day.

Cinching in a 70s dress from  Scarlet Vintage Retro  with a belt from a  Cancer Research UK Shop .

Cinching in a 70s dress from Scarlet Vintage Retro with a belt from a Cancer Research UK Shop.

What started your love for vintage? 

I think I can trace my love for vintage back to my childhood trips to Brick Lane Market each week with my dad. Blankets laid on the floor with treasures galore upon them, beautiful chiffon dresses hanging from the railway arches. I was always off imagining who they belonged to and what stories they had to tell, my dad hurrying me along home for tea while I continued to daydream. As a teenager I would spend my hard earned pennies from working at the market in the charity shops. I enjoyed the thrill of finding something completely unique and different from me peers, getting it home, and styling up an outfit that felt like "me".

Why do you buy vintage + thrift over new? What makes #prelovedpretties special? 

I think I shop preloved for a variety of reasons. It's a slower, more sustainable way to shop and certainly more ethical. There is no doubt it doesn't have the environmental impact that constantly consuming fast fashion does as well as the feel good factor when shopping in charity shops, I am much happier giving to those in need than big corporations. That aside, I really do feel that my personal style has evolved in a way it wouldn't have if I was only buying from the high street. These unique pieces allow me to really express myself and my individuality. I am buying clothes that I fall in love with because I see something of me in them, not because I have been told they are in fashion or that they are the must have item.

Green queen. 1960s silk skirt suit by  Kitty Copeland  found at a boot sale.

Green queen. 1960s silk skirt suit by Kitty Copeland found at a boot sale.

My vintage pieces are so special to me, as I love that they have lived a life before me. They have seen the world we live in so differently and I'm often writing about how I imagine their previous lives to have been over on my Instagram. Wearing vintage is an emotional experience for me; getting dressed is about creating a story. I started #prelovedpretties to really celebrate this way of shopping and to spread the message that by buying secondhand, you really do not make any sacrifices, it is a win win situation. You find your own personal style with one-off (often very high quality) items while saving them from landfill and giving to charity. That's what I would say real retail therapy is.

What's your advice for people who wants to bring more vintage or thrift items into their wardrobes?

If you are keen to dip your toe into thrifting or trying to add some vintage to your wardrobe, I would say try everything. Get to know what shapes suit you and there will be pieces that will really embrace that. For example, I am an hourglass so the high-waisted looks suit me most. Play with silhouettes, experiment with color and print. Find what you feel incredible in and run with it, there are no rules. As for the logistics of thrifting—be patient, this is not an instant gratification way of shopping. You don't always find what you are looking for but persevere and the joy when you do is way more lasting than the quick rush of a high street, fast fashion buy. 

Flower queen. 1980s vintage floral dress with its own cape (!!) found in  Mind Charity Shop .

Flower queen. 1980s vintage floral dress with its own cape (!!) found in Mind Charity Shop.

Thank you, Allie!