A little less than a month ago, I finally graduated with my MA! My family came over for the occasion, and of course we took the opportunity to take lots of family photos, so I wanted to wear something special. At the same time, I didn’t want to spend lots of money on something that I wouldn’t wear very often. Instead, I started searching for a secondhand outfit a few months before the event, and found this pink lace dress in a local charity shop within days. I know that buying second-hand often seems like a big faff, but a lot of the time, it actually turns out to be surprisingly easy.
Like every item, there are plenty of good reasons to buy a special-occasion dress pre-loved, but also a few things to watch out for. Your want to get the most out of it, after all!
They’re not as pre-loved as you might think
If you think back over the last ten years, how many dresses have you bought for special occasions and nights out? And how many of those did you wear more than a handful of times? Exactly. The excellent thing about items like this pink lace dress is that they’re usually only very gently used by the time they end up on eBay or in a charity shop. That means you’re getting an item that’s almost as good as new, but for a fraction of the price. You’re also stepping in fast-fashion’s path of destruction; if a dress is worn only once and then discarded to make way for something new, that’s a negative impact on the planet. But if it ends up in your closet instead, you’ve prevented that item from going to landfill. Simultaneously, you’re using your purchasing power (if you can call buying a pink lace dress for £3 purchasing power…) to buy something sustainably, rather than throw more money at the fast-fashion industry. Cool, right?
It should be a natural fit for your wardrobe
Buying a dress for a special occasion is usually not just about the dress. You need shoes, accessories, a bag… it can all add up really quickly. If you’re buying a dress second-hand, but then need to drop £100 to make it wearable, you’re not saving money and also not saving the planet. Instead, ask yourself whether the item is a natural fit for your closet. To wear this pink lace dress, which is completely see-through btw, I had to purchase a black underdress, which I got from H&M because I couldn’t find a suitable second-hand one. But that was all – I already had suitable shoes, tights and jewellery, so for me, that small second purchase was justifiable. If I had needed to buy a whole set of items to make the dress work for me, I wouldn’t have been so sure! So, before you take that dress to the till, consider whether it will work with what you already have, whether you’ll need to make minor purchases, or whether you will have to buy lots and lots of things to wear with it. If the last of those scenarios is the case, it might be wise to keep looking!