Secondhand Sartorialism: Nothing New Under the Sun

My obsession with vintage clothing has been a large part of who I am for about as long as I can remember. Sure, some could interpret such an obsession as my just being superficial, but I like to think of myself as someone who has an eye for quality and a love for pieces that have stood the test of time—pieces with history, with love literally worn into them. This obsession has given me quite the wandering eye over the years. I know that sounds naughty, but it really isn’t. It just means that I’ve fallen for pieces that I can never own. Pieces that I’ve glimpsed as their owner rode by on a bicycle, strolled by on the mall, or stood next to me at a bar. Sometimes, I have to say something, simply must let their wearer know how amazing their piece is-- which is what happened with Zed’s boots.

Zed is one of the students in the French class that I recently started taking, and it did not take long for a vintage lover like me to notice that he has a pretty darn impressive collection of great vintage pieces—especially his square-toed boots. Dark leather and worn in just enough to look worn without looking broken down, they are of a style that lends itself equally well to dressing up or down and, aesthetically, they are quite possibly perfect. Zed has such a knack for wearing vintage clothing, and for making it his own, that I simply had to ask him to share his thoughts on shopping, and wearing, secondhand. I’m glad that I did, because I believe that you’ll agree that he has quite an interesting take on the merits of secondhand sartorialism.

Name: Zed Ireland Age: 22 Occupation: Full Time English Student Hometown: Denver Shirt: Vintage Shop Jeans: Friend Shoes: Vintage Shop

Do you wear a lot of vintage? A fair amount. Roughly half of my wardrobe is vintage or secondhand.

How long have you been into vintage? I got started off thrifting a few years ago but have really gotten into it in the past year.

When getting dressed, are you generally drawn to your vintage items first? Are they the “building blocks” of your wardrobe? Yes, I consider my vintage articles to be the staples of my wardrobe as well as the most fashionable.

When you go to a secondhand shop or sale what do you check out first? Sometimes I’ll have something specific in mind (i.e. a shirt or vest) but most often I just head towards whatever catches my eye.

Do you have a favorite piece that you ever found at a thrift store, yard sale or vintage shop? Yes, my red leather jacket. It’s absolutely my best find yet.

Best shopping experience that you ever had at a thrift store, yard sale, etc? I had a specific outfit planned that I needed several things for and I just happened to find all of them in one day.

Strangest thing you ever found or purchased at secondhand shop/ sale? A friend and I once found this bizarre African troll statuette. It was so creepy that we had to buy it.

What appeals to you about wearing vintage clothing? There are two major aspects of why I prefer to wear vintage. To start, though many people will disagree with me on this, I believe humanity in our generation has hit a ceiling of creativeness in the arts. All areas of art, including fashion, have exhausted their potential to create something genuinely new. In the art world everything is either a regurgitation of old concepts or combinations of two or more old ideas or methods. Therefore, I think it is more important to quit focusing on trying to have a unique thought (that isn’t really possible) and start looking to the past to pick out influences that really speak to you. On top of that, I am a firm supporter of recycling and reusing as much as possible for the sake of our world. It is time to get back to what is really cool.

As a guy, do you have any tips for other guys about how to shop for or wear vintage clothing? I guess just don’t be afraid to do something different. Get out of what society tells you you should wear and go for something you’d never usually pick out. You may be surprised how much better clothing looks when you’re not trying to be so macho.

Any general thrifting tips? Go as often as possible! Quite frequently, the best items get picked up quick, so if you don’t find anything you like, don’t get discouraged. The more you go the better your chances will be of finding that perfect piece.

A large part of what is interesting and exciting about writing this blog is having the opportunity to learn the many different reasons why people choose to wear vintage. As you know, I wear vintage because I simply can’t resist the aesthetic appeal of older designs. I also love it because I do feel that it is sometimes irresponsible to continue to buy and produce so many new pieces when there are already so many great clothes out there. I was intrigued by Zed’s take on the appeal of vintage clothing and his assertion that all the best designs have already been crafted. What do you think? Why do you wear vintage? Or why don’t you? Leave a comment here or drop me a line at if you’d like to get in on the conversation. Until then, happy thrifting!

-- TaRosa Jacobs

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