I am a terrible vintage shopper. Although I have had one or two fluke successes, namely a 1970s nautical-style double-breasted jacket bought in Brisbane, my strike rate is woeful.
Some people, such as Daily Life columnist and Wardrobe Crisis author Clare Press, have The Gift. They’re the people who #humblebrag about finding Chanel at the Salvos and just have The Eye.
Actress Drew Barrymore is a frequent flea market shopper. Photo: AP
Even some celebrities have the knack. Drew Barrymore has posted photos of her flea market hauls on Instagram, while Anne Hathaway (with the help of a stylist) wore only vintage to promote her film, Colossal, this year.
Perhaps if the world had more people like Press, Australia would make a real dent in the 2000 kilograms of detritus thrown out by every man, woman and child each year.
West Australians are the most wasteful lot, throwing out an inglorious 2490 kilograms each a year, while New South Wales and Victoria aren’t far behind, according to the Bureau of Statistics.
Of course not all of that waste is clothing, although it’s one of the easiest areas to start turning that figure around.
Anne Hathaway wore only vintage to promote her film, Colossal. Photo: PA
Since ensconcing myself in the fashion world 24/7, I’ve become much more aware of my own consumption habits. Personally, that has meant buying less and abstaining from fast fashion stores unless it’s to buy something that I won’t treat as disposable, such as my beloved $10 H&M earrings, which I have owned and worn for more than two years.
But I am still not brave enough to launch head-first into vintage nirvana, especially garage sales, which quite honestly terrify me.
Not Press, who can’t resist a garage sale and whose passion for sustainability has qualified her as an ambassador for next weekend’s Garage Sale Trail.
A seller at last year’s Garage Sale Trail.
“I’m always looking for ways to make the message inviting and engaging, because no one wants to feel guilted into making lifestyle changes,” she says.
Press’ advice for garage sale shopping includes looking for books, lamps, paintings, crockery, jewellery and accessories.
And if you’re hunting for clothes, she has some top tips on what to wear to the sales so you are a good customer (and don’t drive yourself to frustration in the process).
Model Bella Hadid is a fan of vintage denim. Photo: AP
“Wear something narrow like a singlet and skinny jeans so it’s easy to try things on over the top. Don’t expect fitting rooms. Bring a friend and get them to snap a pic of you in lieu of a mirror,” she says.
To that I would add pack snacks, a hat, sunscreen and small money – as someone who has done the Round She Goes market a couple of times, customers who bring small notes are like archangels, especially early in the day.
And by all means, bargain ferociously but fairly. If you’re eyeing a Scanlan Theodore stretch knit item, five dollars is never going to be a fair price (unless it’s late in the day/neon green/damaged or stained). Remember, if you pay a fair price for an item, you’re more likely to treasure it and, eventually, part with it it just as thoughtfully when it no longer serves you well.
The Garage Sale Trail is on October 21-22, garagesaletrail.com.au. Follow Melissa on Instagram: @melly_singer
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Spell & The Gypsy Collective, $69.
All My Relations, $695.
The Social Outfit x Romance Was Born, $49.
Elizabeth and James at The Undone, $293.
Country Road, $100.