Anyone who has been following this blog from the beginning knows that I love a good style challenge and throwing together the most unexpected outfit. Radisson RED Social, the lifestyle website of the global hotel chain inspired by art and culture, challenged me to put together an outfit with only £50. And the catch is that it had to be from thrift or vintage stores only.
Usually I don’t really ‘do’ vintage and the one time my friend told me she went to a market and bought clothes by the kilo, I didn’t know if I wanted to offer her some Dettol or ask if she wanted any Xanax. Okay, I’m exaggerating (but not by much)! Buying vintage really falls into two extremes, either you get an amazing buy and a truly unique piece, or its flammable, moth-eaten and you bought it because you were going through an emotionally vulnerable time and you felt sorry for the heinous jumper.
The reason that I don’t tend to turn to vintage when I shop is because I am way more into quality than the novelty factor, which can be a hard line to balance. In the past I’ve been quite lucky with what I’ve found. It’s much like a relationship, if you’re not looking for something, you’ll come across something great. I like browsing Annie’s, Camden Passage in Angel, for feminine and lacy pieces that remind you how pretty clothes were when our grandmothers were our age. I once sourced a full length, white fur coat for under £300 there for my mum, back when I wasn’t so politically correct or owned a rabbit. The fact that so many genuine fur pieces are made of my Percy’s friends really grosses me out; if you’re going to buy the proper stuff, vintage or second hand is the more ‘ethical’ way to go.
I always find myself at the flagship in Topshop and I noticed that they stock a few rails of premium vintage (Urban Outfitters do too). For a beautiful sequinned or velvet dress, you can expect to pay just over £120, the price of one of Topshop’s own party pieces, which was way over my £50 budget. I figured that if the West End wasn’t going to help me out, I was going to have to take it one step further and into unfamiliar territory. Every Londoner lives in their own self-constructed bubble and mine certainly did not cover East London.
I was however, very impressed with the vintage offerings along Brick Lane. Initially, I chose to visit the smaller establishments first, because everyone knows the big names like Rokit and Blitz. As it turns out, Brick Lane Vintage, the shop from which this skirt is from is sister to Blitz, and where I picked up a 70’s style knitted skirt. One advantage I have when shopping at these vintage stores is that as I am petite, vintage sizing fits me better than most high street pieces today. The skirt was going for £30 and I knew I was putting down more than half my budget down on a statement piece, so it was worth it.
After being handed a 10% voucher for Blitz on Hanbury Street, how could I not go? Hitting up the larger vintage stores will save you a lot of time and effort as they will have a much better selection (as in stuff normal people would actually want). Blitz is spacious, well curated and carry their own line, Blitz Remix, where they rework vintage pieces into items like the navy top I bought. What was once a preppy men’s Tommy Hilfiger shirt is now a cropped, flared sleeve number that I paired with my new Woodstock-esque skirt.