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My entire holiday wardrobe was second-hand - here's how I did it

I pledged to only pack pre-loved outfits for my holidays this summer

An unidentified female model walks along the beach, dressed in a crochet hat and swimsuit, and multi-colored Tartan skirt, with a crochet bag full of flowers over her shoulder, the Hamptons, New York, August 1972
Georgia Brown
Senior Lifestyle & Fashion Writer
Updated: September 24, 2023
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When I suggested that I would be sifting through charity shops to find pieces to add to my holiday wardrobe this year, I was met with nothing but sheer horror from the girls' group chat.

Think of vintage or second-hand clothing and you are likely to picture moth-eaten jackets, tired tea dresses or knitwear reminiscent of a garish 1980s sofa. None of which were deemed suitable for the Instagram-led lavish trip to Ibiza my girlfriends and I had planned for the last of the summer. So why was I so set on only packing pre-loved clothes in my suitcase? 

Previous research by Barnardo’s suggested that the UK will spend £2.7 billion on summer clothing, of which 11 million items of clothing will never be worn again

Not only this, but fast fashion is one of the most polluting contributors to climate change, with over 92 million tonnes of clothes ending up in landfill every year. To put that into perspective, that's equivalent to an entire truckload of clothes being dumped into landfill every second. 

But where does one begin when it comes to curating the perfect sustainable holiday wardrobe? With a trip to Ibiza, a family holiday and a destination wedding in Greece to dress for, I pledged to only dress in pre-loved clothes in a bid to prove that sustainable fashion is so much more than just dull and drab hand-me-downs. 

From charity shop finds to Vinted gems, reworked wardrobe treasures and rented fashion, here is everything I wore in Europe this summer…

Inside my sustainable holiday style file

Despite my penchant for sustainable fashion, I'll be the first to claim that rental fashion isn't quite there yet when it comes to being entirely affordable. While platforms like Hirestreet do offer more accessible prices, with rentals starting from just £20, most high-end hires are reserved exclusively for the style elite who can afford to spend upwards of £100 for a four-day dress loan. 

My hack to unlock rental fashion for free? Borrow clothes from your friends and family. The most sustainable wardrobe is the one you (or your friends) already own.

The borrowed beach dresses

Boho beach attire was the norm at Cala Gracioneta, Ibiza
I borrowed a friend's linen dress to complete my boho beach in Ibiza

 I loaned this stunning linen maxi dress from my former flatmate Alyx, and teamed it with golden starfish earrings from another friend, Olivia.

I loaned a ruffled sheer dress from a friend instead of buying new
I loaned a ruffled sheer dress from a friend instead of buying new

This psychedelic sheer dress complete with a ruffled hem and romantic fluted sleeves was the perfect fit to hit up Destino, a lavish poolside resort in Ibiza where the style set go to see and be seen. I borrowed it from Emma, another effortlessly stylish sister in my life.

The charity shop wedding guest gown

I sourced this ombré dress, worn to a wedding, in a charity shop
I sourced this ombré dress, worn to a wedding, in a charity shop

It was my lucky day when I sourced this ombré halterneck maxi dress in a British Red Cross charity shop for £15. Brand new from Zara, with the tags still in tact when I bought it, this second-hand steal will long be one of my favourite sustainable finds - and it would have cost over £100 if bought on the high street. 

Zara's ongoing partnership with British Red Cross not only sees garments being recycled into new fabrics, but also gives past season clothes another chance at avoiding landfill. Most clothes I have found here are brand new, sold for a fraction of the price.

The pre-loved bargain skirt

A tangerine orange Topshop skirt, bought for £4
A tangerine orange Topshop skirt, bought for £4

I have lived in this silky orange skirt all summer. Easy, breezy, and in a fabulous tangerine hue, this archival Topshop find was just £4 in a charity shop. 

The Vinted cowboy boots

These second-hand silver cowboy boots were bought on Vinted
These second-hand silver cowboy boots were bought on Vinted

My ongoing love affair with Vinted is well documented. Not only have I made over £1000 on the fashion resale platform, but many of my clothes and accessories are bought on the app. Personally, I have found that the low prices on Vinted are unmatched. If you have the patience to search for exactly what you're looking for, you can often find an affordable treasure. 

These pre-loved silver cowboy boots had me stomping around Ibiza like it was nobody's business. I picked them up on Vinted for £11!

The Oxfam mini dress

Oxfam is the best place to find quality pre-loved finds
Oxfam is the best place to find quality pre-loved finds

Another favourite pre-loved fashion find of mine this summer has to be this puff-sleeved corset style mini dress. Reminiscent of House of CB's iconic 'Florianne' dress, this dreamy white number was sourced from Oxfam.

The upcycled gingham gown

Georgia wearing a gingham dress in Seville
I reworked this tired gingham dress than needed stitching and styling

When I picked up this ruffled gingham wrap dress in Oxfam last summer, it needed a button replacing and its hemline restitched. So often we throw clothes away rather than putting in time and minimal effort into repairing them. 

In less than half an hour I had given it a new lease of life, and it's become one of my most-worn summer looks. Here, I styled it with a vintage head scarf I picked up from a thrift store in downtown Seville. 

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What is sustainable fashion?

Sustainable fashion refers to the way in which brands source their materials to reduce their impact on the planet and support their garment workers. There are endless ways you can adopt a more ethical and environmental approach to fashion, such as investing in pre-loved fashion, buying less but better garments, renting clothes instead of buying new and styling items you already own.

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