The Art of Second Hand Dressing


A Arte de Vestir em Segunda Mão

My closet is full of pieces that my friends gave me, that I looked for in second-hand stores or even at fairs. Now I also look on specialized second-hand clothing sites, such as Retry.
In the emblematic European capitals, at least since I was a teenager, there have been second-hand stores, markets, where you can find clothes from all eras, from international, iconic brands or simply that dress made for a body that, whether or not it looks like his, caused her to hold his gaze.

And I speak for myself that since I was very young I got used to traveling across continents, looking for second-hand stores for clothes, accessories, as well as art and decoration.
Today I have an enviable estate with history. Every time I pick up one of these pieces, I inevitably remember the trip, so I immediately find an added value. The memory of what I enjoyed looking for the “exclusive” piece for me.

Yeah, second-hand also brings us this peculiarity, which is the difficulty of finding someone with another piece like it. It is almost guaranteed to be unique.
And even if you find another one like it, you will see how this piece presents itself to society in a different way than yours. There, it is the style of each one to work.
Another interesting particularity is the quality that the piece maintains, remaining in very good condition, despite the load of the years. To cross several hands and remain interesting over time, it is because it was made at a time when quality was one of the greatest premises and the pieces were meticulously viewed before leaving the hand of the craftsman or the factory.
Another great advantage is the cut and date of the piece. Although revivalism is very much in vogue, the real ones are imbued with a charisma that is impossible to overcome.
A good cut is worthy of respect.

When you put the piece on and see how it fits like a glove, or that you can have it rectified without distorting the cut, it is undoubtedly another huge point in favor of your second-hand choice.
It also gives us the feeling that we can travel back in time, thinking about who it belonged to and how that person exploited it. And here comes the dream!
These pieces that have lasted through time, mixed with accessories and with their special and unique touch, can make your image a true art composition.

Who doesn't remember Audrey Hepburn's black dress or Marilyn Monroe's white dress? Who wouldn't want a 1960s Chanel suit? And how these pieces are kept up-to-date when they are already old enough to be grandparents.
Search your memory and discover how these pieces remain alive and eternal.

Fashion has an influence on our lives more than we realize or are willing to believe. There are clothes that seem to have always been there and are known even by those who don't know much about fashion, but who have the keenest eye and feel familiar with them.

And now here is a taste of the creation and motivation of some of these pieces:

  • On July 5, 1946, Micheline Bernardini created the Bikini . My God! The Catholic Church fell on him without pity or pity, because they thought he was indecorous. But in 1951, with the Miss Universe contests, it was used as one of the mandatory costumes. The contestants wore it, some booed, others praised and two years later Brigitte Bardot was photographed and popularized it, taking it to the beach. But it was only in 1969 that BB appeared on the cover of “Playboy” magazine and was adopted by countless women. As a result, the bikini definitely entered society.

  • The black dress (which I never commit to) was in the hands of Coco Chanel and it became, as if by decree, an iconic and obligatory piece of any wardrobe. Coco Chanel designed it in different ways for women who needed a simple, useful, comfortable and functional piece that also revealed their independence and “sovereignty”. With its simplicity, and with all the other adjectives I have listed, it has become a basic piece in every home where there is a woman.

And who hasn't kept one from their mother or grandmother?
Usually Chanel made them timeless just like her fashion, it still is.

  • - The Mini-Skirt they say it was Mary Quant, truly irreverent and provocative, who raised the hem of the skirt and made it out into the street, soon becoming a “trend” piece that all women imitated. Others, however, say that it was André Courréges who created and developed it, making it known to the world. We are thus left without knowing who deserves the credit for the creation, but one thing we do know, it has gone down in fashion history as a piece that revolutionized the concept of clothing used up until then.

And pay attention, this year the mini skirt is going to be a hit again. Enjoy it while your legs allow it and climb the hems. With transparent tights it produces a sexier look. With more opaque ones it produces a simpler look that goes well in a more social program or even for work. Sometimes changing tights, shoes and a coat, adding a scarf or jewelry, are the secret of a quick and efficient transformation that can take you from work to a pleasant socializing or even to “a dance floor”.

  • The white shirt is probably one of the most preferred choices in the world. Basic or with more refined details is a resource that always looks good. Due to the candor and neutrality of the color, the elegance, the diversity of combinations with other colors, the ease of dialogue with props, etc., it becomes an indispensable piece in any wardrobe. In the 19th century, wearing a white shirt was synonymous with belonging to the elite. Made of silk, cotton or linen, it was worn by people of high social standing. I have a white shirt with “ribbons” which is a relic. I would love to know who owned it and how it lived. But I bought it in a flea market and I'm the one who's going to make the story now.

Today, fortunately, it is one of the most important pieces in a closet and simple or more elaborate, even due to the very light it transmits, it is a piece that adds elegance.

  • The leather jacket , was born to fill the need of World War I aviators, to have a practical, functional piece that could adapt to their activity. It was born with a careful design and with padded lining and higher collar in order to protect them from the wind.

But in the post-war period (+/-1950) when the “rebel” James Dean used it in the movie “Rogue Youth”, there was no one who didn't want to have a copy. The insubordinate image, combined with the typical behavior of the 50s and 60s, was immediately welcomed by young people. In the 80s, the leather jacket was again loved and became a representative and indispensable piece of rock, heavy metal and also bikers. I recommend you have one in your closet. Bought second-hand, it will come with seductive marks of time that will instill even more charm, as a finishing touch to your outfit and with the inherent rebellious connotations, it will certainly make a difference. tease! Dare in the mixes! Search in Retry. A leather jacket is a purchase for life!

  • Trench coat is a coat or trench coat, with double cuffs, which was also not born for the catwalks. Once again, it was created for the British army to solve the needs of soldiers who needed a jacket that would protect their chest well. It was designed by Sir Thomas Burberry, thinking about those who were in the trenches. Initially produced in cotton and waterproof and the chosen color was, inevitably, khaki.

And it was thanks to this model that his name stood out in the world of fashion. The Trench coat thus becomes yet another fashion icon. And, as they say these days, when Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart wore it, it went viral.
It is also an indispensable piece in any closet and you can find it second-hand at Retry.

  • The blazer and suit is a must for any wardrobe. It is an example of the best that tailoring produces with an enviable sobriety and seriousness, in addition to always being a symbol of elegance and good taste. Even the current oversize and deconstructed ones are representative of good taste. Having been created for men, Yves Saint Laurent introduced it to the feminine universe with irrefutable distinction and class. Who does not know the famous tuxedo? Invest in a good second-hand model at Retry.

  • Lastly, the Jeans . It's impossible to talk about icons without talking about jeans. Their inventor and visionary Levi Strauss “institutionalized” them in the United States and, creating successive, more comfortable versions, took them around the world. After 30 years of upgrades on the original model, Levi Strauss patented the first jeans in history, the first Levi's,501.

But about fashion we can say that it is undoubtedly cyclical. How many times have we thought:

-“hmmmm I had a piece like this as a child…”

Fashion is in constant motion. Second-hand purchases are associated with pieces that are already a few years old, whose great advantage is the difference in construction and cut and having gone through lives, remaining up-to-date.
But creativity in fashion and, therefore, makes it cyclical, is an accumulation of knowledge and memories of the past transferred to the needs of the present. It is a reinterpretation of a “good nostalgia” associated with a new concept.

The mixes and remixes provided by second-hand pieces full of history and charisma are challenging. In addition, in terms of sustainability, we are reusing and giving new life to the pieces.
In addition to all this, there are also advantages:

  • We profit on price;
  • The quality of the fabrics (usually made with more natural fibers and processes);
  • We have access to iconic and unique pieces;
  • We can acquire emblematic brands at affordable prices (which can even become an investment [see the case of Wallets and real leather bags and coats);
  • We have the opportunity to be creative, knowing how to adapt for ourselves, the pieces that were born for our grandmothers;
  • We arouse the interest in others of wanting to be different too;
  • We become “members” of a healthier planet;
  • We keep second-hand stores alive;
  • We do justice to the melancholy of the arts and crafts of the past.

And at the end of all this..... if you want, put it back on sale or undo the dress and make cushions. Or if the fabric is extraordinary and with fabulous prints, you can use them in your home decor, frame them for example, …. the creativity is endless!

And if the first hand was born with a well-defined strategy and purpose, the second hand can even develop the true artist in you.
Take a tour of Retry and you won't regret it.
I Maria Pia already did it and in a next column I will talk about my trip.

Maria Pia

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