If I have time when travelling, I like finding vintage or second-hand clothes. It’s like a treasure hunt. From winding through non-touristy suburbs in order to find the stores, to looking amongst the clothes for things I like and that fit me. It’s a lovely detour and a nice spot of luck when I find something I love.
Second-hand stores are normally tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the main streets. These places help me immerse myself in the journey. It takes me away from the well-worn tourist strips, getting a more authentic experience of the city I am in. They are sometimes in university suburbs, truly local areas, artistic enclaves, where you meet real locals, away from the Gucci and Prada boredom that infects many main cities. You’re seeing the real city, the local’s city.
It’s also environmentally friendly – you’re recycling and repurposing.
And best of all, when I find something special, it always reminds me of the city and the experience in a totally different way from any other purchase. A part of that city’s story, from the original wearer, is imbued in the garment or item, and I think of it as adding a deeper layer to the item’s journey, whenever I use it.
I’ve been meaning to blog about this for a while, and I’ve missed a great deal of cities, so I’ll have to start backwards.
Let’s start at the last place I did some second-hand ferreting….
Paris. 11th Arrondisement. Rue D’Aligre. Late September. 2015.
A typical second hand store – full of badly worn shoes, old nightgowns and unnatural fibers. The kind of store I love the most because it means if you find something of quality, it’s even more special and rare.
I stayed in an apartment next door, so to me, this location was a gift from the vintage/ second-hand gods! 🙂
I was travelling light, so I didn’t have everything I needed. I was actually looking for a jumper to wear, as the nights were getting colder. So I immediately headed for the men’s section.
Generally speaking, men’s clothes are made from “tougher materials”, which means wardrobe staples like jackets and jumpers or pullovers will be made of natural materials.
I found a New Wool jumper on the 3 Euro rack (which you can see in the photo at the front of the store), which is about AUD$5. It’s a fine wool, which is soft to the touch, and extremely well made.
It was so clean, comfy and cosy.
This grey round-neck jumper fits me comfortably and matches suits my wardrobe colour palette perfectly. It’s extremely warm and made from good quality material.
Now, every time I wear this jumper, I feel so warm & cosy….. and I think of my trip to Paris. It reminds me of these moments….
Of the early morning markets at Rue D’Aligre….
Of spotting an elderly couple holding hands like romantic teens…
Of the strolls around the friendly flea market and the gardens.
Of wandering through the markets every morning, of having an espresso at Le Tabac café, of delicious dinners & deep conversations at Le Square Trousseau.
Of walking up Rue de Charenton to the Bastille on a sunny day, and of moments of joy caught on an early Autumn evening.
So, if you ever find yourself travelling and needing an item of clothing, and you happen to have the time, search for a second hand store. If you find yourself even close to a second-hand store, go in and take a look.
The true essence of that city, or of that town, village or suburb, can be found around those streets and in those stores. You may spend very little and find something truly unique which will shape the memory of your journey more than any tourist trinket or “brand name” item.
Be bold. Explore. Make memories. 🙂
*This post was written in 2015, just before the Paris attacks, in 2015. I really didn’t have the heart to put this up, then. As I write this now, I wish this post to be a reminder of the beauty and charm of this city and its people, and I hope it continues. I hope that this post serves as a reminder to never forget the unique joy & spirit that each individual place can bring. Peace.
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