These 7 Autumn Trends Look So Much Better Second-Hand

If you've been following my Second-Hand Shopper series, you'll know that making vintage fashion a more integrated part of the average person's wardrobe has become a bit of a mission for me. I know this behavioural change may take a while to shift, but if I can make just one person who was previously ambivalent about pre-loved clothing buy second-hand, then I consider my mission a success.

This is also why every season over the last year, I have created an alternative trend report that is shopped out with vintage finds. Of course, as a publication, we try our best to integrate second-hand clothing into all our content. However, I wanted to carve out this space specifically to show that adopting more sustainable shopping habits doesn't have to mean forgoing that joy and creative experimentation that comes with new-season trends. After all, most fashion trends will have existed in similar iterations in the past.

"The trend cycle means that the previous decades are regularly back in fashion," explains vintage seller Franny Monzemba. "There is a particular je ne sais quoi to be found in vintage and fashion nostalgia. It's a search for authenticity. It can be difficult for some to find their personal style and even more difficult when you take the step to go completely to vintage or second-hand, but thanks to new online marketplaces and social media platforms, it's never been easier to give it a go."

With September now in full swing (anyone for #SecondhandSeptember?), I hand-picked the seven autumn 2021 trends that particularly lend themselves to buying second-hand and asked some vintage industry experts to offer their takes on each throwback look. Let me also inform the budget-conscious among us that vintage offers up plenty of affordable options, and my shopping edit includes bargains from as little as £20. You're very welcome. So if you want to give your new-season shopping list a sustainable kick, scroll down to see and shop my pre-loved alternatives to this season's biggest trends.

1. Elevated Suits


(Image credit: REJINA PYO)

"Suits encapsulate a kind of formality that no other garment can confirm. They have been present in fashion both as business attire and as a ready-to-wear statement for as long as time," explains vintage seller Peter Goldsmith. "They're genderless, universal and inclusive."


2. Tartan


(Image credit: DIOR)

"Because tartan is such a long-standing traditional pattern of our Scottish neighbours, there are so many vintage options to choose from," explains Katty Patterson, founder of Finds by Foxes. "Many of these are made from quality wool and have been looked after and laundered with care, meaning they look as incredible today as the day they were purchased."


3. Saturated Colours


(Image credit: PRADA)

"I love the 1980s for all things exaggerated, and if you're looking to colour-block vibrant jewel tones, then this is your era," Patterson states. "One of the most readily available decades for second-hand hunting, you could, without too much trouble, piece together a head-to-toe look, accessories included, in all the colours of the rainbow."


4. Craft Fabrics


(Image credit: CHLOE)

"Patchwork was first used in vintage fashion in the '50s and '60s as a way of being frugal and using leftover scraps of fabric," explains Goldsmith. "Today, it has been adopted by high-end and mainstream fashion labels alike the world over."


5. Y2K


(Image credit: SUPRIYA LELE)

To re-create this season's Y2K trend, Goldsmith recommends trying "matching denim shorts and cut-off vests, flares, baby-doll crop tops or low-rise jeans with an oversized statement jacket."


6. Logos


(Image credit: GUCCI)

"From the classic Adidas stripes to the Nike tick and the two bold interlocking C's of Chanel to the timeless Medusa head of Versace, you can find all the brands and logos under the sun. Just get searching, and you will find them," says Goldsmith.


7. Chintz


(Image credit: YUHAN WANG)

"The '70s, with its love of pattern, obviously lends itself well to all things chintz, but it can sometimes be a little limited on style or size," explains Patterson. "Alternatively, there are so many chintz-style fabric options out there, formerly curtains and bedspreads, from across the decades readily available from second-hand stores yet easily overlooked. As blanks, these can be transformed into suits, dresses, bucket hats, you name it."


Up Next: How to Find the Best Vintage Pieces, According to a Second-Hand Expert