There's no doubt about it: Sustainability is a hot topic right now, and for good reason. Whether it's how we consume our food, package our beauty products or navigate the high street, there are few areas of life where our consumption isn't being brought into question. Sadly, fashion is one of the worst offenders in the sustainability stakes, and as fashion editors, this is a conundrum we face daily.
However, while we don't have all the answers, we do our best to incorporate a more mindful approach to shopping where possible, whether it's championing sustainable brands, prioritising lifelong style over fleeting fads, questioning certain trends or simply celebrating the joy of an investment piece. Yet there is one area we're particularly passionate about, and that's vintage clothing.
Most mornings at Who What Wear HQ, you'll find at least one of us wearing a newly discovered secondhand piece. We love the deep-seated satisfaction that comes from finding that one-of-a-kind gem. For us, it's a no-brainer—vintage is generally cheaper and better-made than its high-street counterparts, and, best of all, you won't bump into anyone wearing the same thing.
It's all about renewing, recycling and closing the loop in fashion production.
With party season around the corner, it's all too easy to get caught in the trap of buying pieces that are worn once and quickly forgotten about. Because we like to practice what we preach, we decided to set ourselves a challenge: Forgo our usual ready-to-wear brands and instead create two separate party looks each using just second-hand items.
We joined forces with Rokit Vintage and based our hunt in the brand's labyrinthine north London warehouse. Needless to say, we were like kids in a candy store. We summoned all our vintage-hunting powers and came up with two looks each that ticked all the boxes. The truth is, this year's party trends couldn't be more retro, so now's the very best time to get involved.
These are all one-of-a-kind items, so some are no longer available to shop online (or are yet to be uploaded), however, we've included similar looks for the sold out pieces. So whether you're a seasoned thrifter or vintage newbie, we hope our party shoot will inspire you to incorporate some sustainable pieces into your party look this season.
From Editorial Director Hannah Almassi's black velvet maxi to social media editor Isabel Mundigo-Moore's Dolly Parton–inspired getup, scroll down to see our chosen outfits.
Shop Our Vintage Party-Dressing Edit
Isabel Mundigo-Moore, Social Media Editor: Dolly Parton–Inspired Ensemble
"The great thing about going vintage for party season is that the pieces give you a persona for the evening. The moment I saw that pink dress, it felt ready for a party, but it also gave me Dolly Parton vibes, which is why the pink cowboy boots felt so right. It reminded me that party season can be so fun, and because vintage is often cheaper and better quality, you can try new, more wild things!"
Emma Spedding, Deputy Editor: Shoulder-Pad Showstopper
"I'm the one person in my team who isn't a vintage collector. I lack the patience for 'the hunt' and am a very indecisive shopper. This metallic draped dress taught me it pays to have an open mind when vintage shopping. I'd usually be scared by such extreme shoulder pads, and this was four dress sizes bigger than I am, but the oversized shoulders and draping really worked. I just made sure to really cinch in the waist with the belt. I paired this dress with the most outrageous 'party' shoes I already own—a pair of feathered Prada mules—and pulled out the golden tones in the fabric with a pair of gold hoops."
Joy Montgomery, Acting Assistant Editor: Coral Creation
"In my experience, buying secondhand party dresses can be a bit of a hit-or-miss experience, so when I came across this coral maxi, I was amazed at how well it fit and how contemporary it felt. The flared sleeves reminded me of Vampire's Wife dresses (which I love, though they're out of my price range). The sparkly fabric offers a good dose of '80s nostalgia, which feels very current this season. Proof that vintage can look just as relevant and grown-up as new high-street pieces."
Hannah Almassi, Editorial Director: Black and Gold Classics
"It's really hard to buy a vintage LBD that still looks brand-new (black fabrics can often fade and wear badly), but if you can find something with a high shine or textural finish like velvet, you're onto a winner. This beautifully cut secondhand Emporio Armani dress is a real keeper. I always fall back on a black dress–and–gold jewellery formula; it never gets old and can be easily achieved with preloved items."
"I found this vintage Lanvin dress on Rokit's website, which is a great introduction to vintage shopping for those who like me get overwhelmed by endless rails full of unlabelled goods. This '70s button-front tunic has a striking monochromatic geometric print and a fruit-bowl floral print along the bottom of the skirt—the kind of combination you'd still find on a runway (or Instagram feed) today. This is the perfect desk-to-drinks dress, and it would also look amazing unbuttoned over a black swimsuit. The belt was essential for making this look more fitted—a key tool for any vintage shopper."
"Thanks to the '90s renaissance, velvet seems to be the party fabric of choice this season, and you can find so many gorgeous one-of-a-kind pieces in vintage stores and charity shops. This turquoise velvet look comes in a classic '90s bias cut, which skims the figure; however, I purposefully wore it backwards to make the neckline look more modern and left out the belt for a cleaner finish. I styled with a pair of showstopping shoes for maximum impact—the best trick for a plain, understated dress."
"This year's party vibe is more '80s than it has been since that decade, so it's a great time to buy the real deal instead and give some new life to old pieces. Lamé is always on my radar, but this is the first time I've felt brave enough to wear it in true 'old-school Kris Jenner' style with leggings, a chain belt and heels. The whole concept is a million miles away from my regular midi dresses, but if a night out can't be an excuse to dress boldly, what can?"