Secrets to Creating French Luxury Style with Second-hand Clothing

Secrets to Creating French Luxury Style with Second-hand Clothing

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second-hand clothing
The author in a designer jacket at a Paris dépôt-vente © Marjorie Preval

Like most women, I’ve accumulated a lot of clothing over the years. My closet told my story – from budding professional in my twenties to my single-in-the-city thirties to my soccer mom forties and beyond. Staring at the racks and shelves everyday, I often felt overwhelmed by the choices and guilty about the money I’d wasted on clothes I rarely wore. So when I decided to come to Paris on a whim, it was time for a fresh start.

I sold off most of my wardrobe to an online resale platform and funded my way to a new beginning. Once settled, I had high-fashion expectations about the French women marketed as très chic by movies and magazines. Naively, I envisioned the streets and cafés full of stylish women sporting the latest collections from the designers I drooled over. Little did I expect sneaker-wearing, monochromatic uniforms preferred by most Parisiennes.

Luxury second-hand items at a Paris dépôt-vente © Marjorie Preval

Evaluate and elevate

But I was determined to create my own look à la française. I started with a trip to the iconic Le Bon Marché. I stood in the aisles, discouraged and deflated because what I truly desired was not in my price range. But neither did I want to put my money into cheap and poorly-made trends that would end up in a landfill somewhere. I wanted to respect, celebrate and honor French fashion while holding on to my values.

So I decided to go another way. First, I evaluated what I already owned and created a foundation with the very best basics. Then I learned to elevate them with pre-loved fashions from dépôt-vente boutiques in Paris. Through buying second-hand, re-selling – and making some mistakes along the way – I acquired luxury labels without the hefty price tags. There’s nothing like the feeling of finding something you desire at a great price. It’s like winning the fashion lottery.

Designer handbags and jewelry at a Paris second-hand clothing boutique © Marjorie Preval

Out with old, in with the (like) new

Now I’d like to pass what I’ve learned on to you. Let’s audit your closet and learn how to transform your shopping habits from buying new off-the-rack clothes to procuring luxury pre-owned designer labels – at the same price. When starting on this new journey, make a list of what you need to complete a look, replace it, or update it.

I’m a big advocate of carefully curating what I put in my closet, so I’m brutal about what needs to go, too. And don’t forget that your wardrobe can be a financial resource.

If you have pieces you’ve hardly worn by popular brands, then ladies, there’s money in your closets!

With over 100 dépôt-ventes in Paris, there are many options, from the thrift-stores popular with university students to the über-luxury vintage boutiques catering to foreign tourists willing to lay down big bucks for a rare Birkin bag. The stores I tend to frequent are where Parisian women sell off last year’s purchases to make room for the season ahead.

Rack of pre-loved designer clothes © Marjorie Preval

Change your habits not just your clothes

The real test begins when you enter a dépôt-vente. Brands like Ba&SH, IKKS, Sandro, and COS hang on the racks, ready to be sold at 60-80% less than retail. But my darlings, we are not here simply for a bargain. We want to build a luxury designer wardrobe at a great price. Gone are the days of buying four cheaply-made tops that will fall apart after the first wash when you can have one beautifully-designed blouse that will last forever.

We are here to create value in your closet, so when your life, style, size, or mind changes, you can recirculate those no-longer-wanted clothes and release them into the universe for another woman to enjoy. Luxury clothes are not meant to be thrown away and by being more conscious of the brands you buy, you can contribute to this cycle of re-use and re-wear.

So, how do you know you’re getting good quality at the right price? When buying pre-loved luxury, get to know the brands you covet. Visit the fanciest boutiques where you dream of buying clothes someday. This practice alone will teach you how quality fabrics should feel and what good design means. This is the fun part but can sometimes be intimidating, so take a friend and make a day of it. Once you decide the brands you like and the quality you seek, look for those pieces in a dépôt-vente.

One of the author’s favorite dépôt-vente boutiques in Paris © Marjorie Preval

Inspect and re-inspect

Before making a purchase, inspect the garment like your life depends on it. In the excitement of a great “deal,” you may overlook a flaw that can’t be repaired. Before I purchase, I look closely at seams, crotches, and underarms. I know it kills the mood but trust me, you’ll want to make this a habit. For natural silks and lightweight fabrics, I hold the garment up to natural light checking for snags and holes. Next, I look at the fabric content and where the garment was made.

I gravitate towards natural fibers now, unless it’s a signature fabric from a particular designer. I rarely buy anything made in China these days. Finally, when you’re in the fitting room, whip out your phone and do a quick Google search for the brand. You’ll know from the results if the price being offered is fair. 8 times out of 10, I am more than pleased with my find.

My Favorite Luxury Second-Hand Shops in Paris

To set you on your way, here are my favorite places to shop in Paris for luxury second-hand items that offer a good assortment of styles and sizes:

Chercheminippes
114 Rue du Cherche-Midi, 75006
www.chercheminippes.fr

HK Vintage
I love the merchandising mix. If you want color in your wardrobe, this is the place.
1 Rue Theodore de Banville, 75017
www.hk-vintage26.com

La Marelle
Luxury pieces on the second floor.
25 galerie Vivienne, 75002
www.la-marelle-paris.fr

Louise Paris
There’s a huge selection of French brands. Focus on Chloe, Lavin, and Stella McCartney.
10 rue de Lancry, 75010
www.louiseparis.fr

J’y troque
It’s all good here. Expand into new European and Italian brands you haven’t heard of before.
7 Rue Villedo, 75001
www.depot-vente-jytroque.fr

All photos by Marjorie Preval


If you have a favorite second-hand clothing boutique you want to share, let us know in the comments below. Happy hunting!

Build Your Dream Luxury Wardrobe with Pre-Loved Fashion

Thursday, February 25, 18:30-19:30 (CET) via Zoom

Join sustainable stylist Leticia Gonzales for a workshop showing you how to build a new wardrobe with treasures from stylish Parisian second-hand boutiques!

Cost: FREE to INSPIRELLE members, 10 € for non-members

REGISTER HERE

18 COMMENTS

  1. Oh, this article hits the spot! I need a new work-from-home wardrobe, thanks to my new work-from-home bod, and I have been dreading the thought of buying new clothes. This is a great reminder that my wardrobe was never “one and done”, but is something that can be traded/shared in the process of life changes, rather than simply discarded to start over from scratch. Now I’m excited and more welcoming of the process. Thanks for the reminder life is always in flux, and that there are ways to accommodate it and while being artful and sustainable. I’ll be taking the author’s advice and am sure I’ll be looking for more!

  2. I can’t wait to clean out my tired and crowded closet and pair it down to just the right essentials. Hopefully I can be in Paris soon and find just the perfect pieces.

  3. This article is truly inspiring, Leticia. Thank you for posting these smart tips! I, too, have, at times, found shopping some of the fanciest of boutiques intimidating; the sound advice you give with regards to shopping these boutiques simply to determine my preferred brands, designs, and fabrics is valuable.
    I am dreaming of being in Paris right now and shopping at the second-hand shops you have referenced, with my newfound secrets, thanks to you!

  4. oooohhh, I love this advice! It is just SO timely, I have just started to revaluate what I buy, so the idea of investing in higher quality garments for the longer-term is really appealing. I’m sure there are many women who dream of adding a ‘pop’ of luxury brands into their wardrobe, yet it can feel so foreign – so I really appreciate this hand holding and would love to know more about stepping into this “world” and not feeling overwhelmed or intimidated!!

  5. Great article Leticia! So inspiring. I would love to have you take a look at my closet. I’m also ready to look for some great new pieces like you mentioned. Thanks for the links…I checked out HK Vintage and J’y Troque. I can’t wait to shop!

  6. I look forward to my next trip to Paris and planning a shopping trip with you Ms. Gonzales! Thank you for the insightful article.

  7. Love this inspiring article! My wardrobe needs some elevation and curation – I’ll be checking these shops out in Paris on my next visit and looking to find some local vintage gems in San Francisco as well – if you have any recommendations in SF, let me know!

  8. Leticia has such a great eye for fashion and a talent for finding those wonderful vintage gems! Can’t wait for this event with her!

  9. Your story is so inspiring! Knowing that the fashion industry is responsible for so much depletion of our small planet’s resources, I love that fact we can be stylish and environmentally mindful. I will treasure the experience I had with your shopping expedition in Paris. It was fun and I brought home some wonderful pieces!

  10. This is so inspiring and encouraging! My wardrobe needs some serious help and I love your hints on how to curate a second-hand designer wardrobe. I’ll be in touch via your website as I’ll be in Paris next month and could really use your expertise. Thanks again! So ready for a change!

  11. Loved this article! My favorite second-hand shop in Paris is Episode, not too far from the forum des halles. It’s not a luxury shop, but I’ve found that they have great prices and a diverse selection of clothing, shoes and accessories. I also like how transparent they are about their process and strive for sustainability on their website.

  12. Thank you so much for sharing the secrets of les Parisiennes with us, Leticia! This is super helpful, as I navigate the art of fashion here in Paris 🙂

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