Embracing Secondhand September: Sustainable Style for an Award Luncheon

Yes, you can curate a stylish look with secondhand finds

We are coming to the end of #SecondhandSeptember but as I always say, secondhand is for life, not just for September. So of course, when I received a last-minute award luncheon invite, it was the perfect opportunity to embrace the spirit of “Secondhand September” and embark on a mission to curate a stylish outfit for an award luncheon using primarily secondhand pieces. The result? A look that not only turned heads but also made a meaningful statement about sustainable fashion.

Don’t get me wrong, only 10 years ago, my first instinct would have been to go shopping for a new look, but gone are the days of fickle fashion and mindless spending. In a world inundated with fast fashion, where trends change as quickly as the seasons, it’s essential to take a step back and consider the impact of our clothing choices.

At the heart of my ensemble was a silky olive green top from Zara. While the shirt itself wasn’t secondhand, I purchased it from the 2018 collection, well before the “Secondhand September” movement gained momentum. By choosing an older piece from a high-street brand, I aimed to show that even clothing from fast fashion retailers can have a longer life with responsible consumption.

Pairing the top was a stunning floral pencil skirt from F&F, a brand that, despite its supermarket origins, has over the years excelled in creating stunning looks. I found this gem in a Barnardo’s thrift store back in 2019 but pandemic and mainly remote working meant this is probably the second time ever I’ve worn it. The skirt’s vibrant floral print added a touch of femininity to my outfit, and its quality was as good as new.

To complete my look, I turned to accessories thrifted in local community shops and charity stores. The pièce de résistance was a Catherine Malandrino bag (scored only this summer!), a luxurious find that perfectly complemented the look while ensuring I had enough space to carry all my essentials for a day out in London. Incidentally, I also scored this gorgeous Steve Madden bag on the same day, and for a bit, I wasn’t sure whether I’d get one or both – so glad, I got both!

As for my footwear, I found these vintage Lilley and Skinner heels in the Oxfam Superstore last year but hadn’t had a chance to wear them since. These shoes not only carried a sense of history but also boasted exceptional craftsmanship. They fit like a dream and reminded me of the days when quality was paramount in the fashion industry.

Wearing this secondhand ensemble to the award luncheon was not only a fashion statement but also a conscious choice to support sustainable fashion practices. It showcased that we can look chic, stylish, and put together without contributing to the culture of fast fashion. What’s more, in an outfit I truly loved and took proud in curating, I not only felt confident but also made a positive impact on the environment. “Secondhand September” may be a month-long challenge, but the lessons it imparts about responsible fashion choices are timeless.

Top: Zara

Skirt: Tesco F&F at Barnardo’s £4.99

Bag: Catherine Malandrino found at a community shop £4

Shoes: Lilley and Skinner at Oxfam, £5

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