A good vintage – why I love secondhand fashion

MAYBE it’s because I like telling stories or perhaps it’s the fact that they come out of the washing machine bone dry that appeals so much, but I’ve always had a fascination with vintage clothes.

To me, they are not old-fashioned cast-offs, but rather a cherished antique. I fantasise about the people who wore them before me and wonder at the fun that particular Burberry skirt or pair of Bally boots once had.

I know many fashion lovers who couldn’t think of anything worse that wearing something second-hand while I baulk at the prospect of visiting a ubiquitous high street store to buy whatever revolving fashion style is ‘on trend’ this season.

Vintage clothes make my eyes light up and my heart sing – from the ‘made in England’ labels to the matching patterns to the lined skirts, they scream quality and glamour in a way that is remiss today as they were made to last.

While polyester is a fabric that, for many, is past its sell-by date, I love will happily forgo the small matter of it not being breathable and for all its advantages.

Dresses are dry as soon as they are washed, they don’t need ironing and they keep you very warm. I wouldn’t stand too near to an open flame in them but, for someone whose ironing pile is always on the brink of toppling over, they are my dependable best friends.

Vintage clothes also let me express myself in a way high-street clothes can’t. I like to look a bit different, I crave colour and 1980’s pleated midi-skirts, a mainstay of second-hand rails across the land, make me very happy. I was a child during that decade so I wonder if memories of my mum make its fashions so comfortingly familiar. Give me a blouson sleeve over a skinny jean any day.

My love affair began in Attica, above what is now Haymarket Bus Station in Newcastle. I used to browse on my way home from school and its prices suited my pocket money budget and teenage yearning to stand out from the crowd.

I should point out that, 25 years later, my vintage haunts aren’t exclusive boutiques but charity shops across the North-East where I can come away with a prized new addition to my collection for a tenner tenner.

Of course I’ve made some mistakes over the years, but wearing something from a different decade is always going to be a bit risky – but that’s part of the thrill and giving to a worthy cause is good for the soul.

My favourite pieces include a Burberry skirt bought 10 years ago for £4 from Cancer Research UK on Gosforth High Street, a brand new Aquascutum camel coat costing £40 from Oxfam in Jesmond and a Laura Ashley dress (main picture) for £8 from Teesside Hospice in Yarm.

In these times of austerity and uncertainly vintage clothes shopping still provides retail therapy for those, like me, having to tighten their belts. Not only do I get to cheaply refresh my wardrobe but if I’m ever invited to a Dynasty-themed fancy dress party I will never be stuck for something to wear.