Walking in another man's shoes...

I just popped into Wini's, one of my favourite vintage shops, which was a good move and a bad move, depending on your point of view. I came out €75 lighter, the proud owner of an adorable cashmere sweater and a pair of boots of the kind I have been on the lookout for since Forever.

What can I say? They were just there. I've been wanting something along these lines for a while, but hadn't really seen the thing I was looking for, something black, chunky and mannish, a bit casual and a bit dressy at the same time. Laces, no zippers, no distressed leather, and hooks for the laces at the top. 

And here they are. Italian made men's boots, leather throughout, fresh Vibram soles and heels and enough space inside for woolly socks. 

This is the first time in a long while that I've bought a pair of second hand shoes. There's not too much wear on these but I have to admit it still feels a bit odd. I've always quite liked the idea of previous owners in my thrifted purchases, particularly when the quality is good, but for some reason walking in someone else's shoes is spooky. Particularly when that someone was a man.

But I do notice that I am much more prone to impulse purchases when buying second hand. I am *incredibly* picky about buying new in the high street, but put me in front of a really good pre-owned or vintage find and I will fist over the cash in seconds. I'm not sure if this instance qualifies as impulsive as this style has been on the shopping list for a while, but it certainly wasn't premeditated either.

I can think of all kinds of reasons for this, but I was wondering about your thoughts on pre-owned pieces and impulse shopping in general. Does a fabulous thrifted find thrill you onto a snap decision? Or do you take a deep breath, ask them to put it aside, and go walk around the block?

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Laura (rhubarbgirl) replied 3 years ago

    Your boots look useful and sturdy. I've been known to buy second-hand shoes, but a lot of people are squicked out by them. Not sure why.

    I don't know that I'm more impulsive when buying second-hand, but since I can return most new stuff if I realize that I make a poor decision, I end up keeping more of my second-hand impulse buys. It's hard because depending on the store it is often a now-or-never kind of proposition. I don't go thrifting as much as I used to, but I still have a policy that anything that costs under 10 bucks is not worth stressing about one way or the other, as long as the purchase fits into my overall budget for the season. I've thrifted stuff and realized after wearing it once that it's not me or it doesn't quite fit right, and back it goes into the donation bag. Not the most efficient way of doing it ever, but sometimes if you don't try it out you never know.

  • ironkurtin replied 3 years ago

    Almost all of my boots are secondhand. It's the only way I can afford the brands I admire!  If the thought oogs you, use one of those antifungal foot sprays inside. Those kill everything.

    I have a little ritual when I buy secondhand.  I clean the item thoroughly and spiff it up. If it's shoes, I use the antifungal spray inside and some shoe polish and leather conditioner on the outside. Sortof like welcoming them home and letting them know I will take good care of them.

    As far as taking a deep breath and walking, I am a snap decision maker in almost everything. I trust my gut.  Sometimes my gut is wrong, but often, I'm quite happy that way.

  • Angie replied 3 years ago

    Great boots. Enjoy. Perhaps we'll see them in an outfit soon. 

    I'm the opposite, approprio. I have a hard time spending money on items that are not new. Although I've bought a second hand car in the past and we've always been the second owners of the houses that we have purchased. I like to be the first owner of most things and pass the items on to their second owner. That's my role in the life cycle of items that require purchasing - and it takes all of us to make the lifecycle work. If it weren't for people like me - there would be no eBay, thrift stores and secondhand avenues. Something for everyone, horses for courses, and there is no right or wrong way. It's all good. xo

  • approprio replied 3 years ago

    Angie, you're so right. I'm always grateful to previous owners, particularly when it's a great piece that's been well cared for. 

    One of the reasons I'm so fussy when I'm buying new is because I have to spend quite a bit more to get the quality I want, while vintage and consignment stores can deliver unique pieces at amazing value for money. 

    And, I have to say, Wini's is a lovely shop. Even if you don't buy vintage it's worth checking it out. The owner has a great eye, the selection is very well curated and the staff are wonderful. They also have a great collection of vintage and recycled jewellery.

    ironkurtin: that's a great tip. I reached straight for the antibacterial spray and have given them a really good squirt. Now off to do the leather conditioner!

  • Astrid replied 3 years ago

    Nice! They remind me of monkey boots. Personally I also like to be the first owner, preferably wearing a piece to death. But maybe I would be tempted if I had better options to shop second hand at.

  • thimblelina replied 3 years ago

    Wear 'em in good health! I can't stop buying vintage trench coats if they were manufactured abroad. So far I've got French & Swiss. Looking for Italian & British. And Dutch!!

  • Suz replied 3 years ago

    Those are lovely looking boots. 

    I will often experiment with thrift and consignment purchases in a way I would not at full price. So I'll try a new colour or cut. I haven't been thrifting or consignment shopping in quite a while simply because my options are poor where I live and I realized I had been making bad purchases; when I visit a larger city I do enjoy popping in, especially for accessories, which can be fabulous buys at thrift stores. 

  • Janet replied 3 years ago

    Great boots! I've only bought second-hand footwear once -- a pair of boots -- but I'm more like Angie in preferring to be the first owner when it comes to my wardrobe. I love seeing the fab deals and pieces you all score though!

  • shevia replied 3 years ago

    I am a big second hand shopper, including shoes, and have a kit ready for my new purchases more or less as IK describes except I use anti-bacterial wipes and gel. Anti-fungal spray is an excellent idea and I will be adding it, although I must say I am lucky and have never had a problem. 

    I do not hesitate when I see something at a thrift store. At a higher end second hand shop, I think long and hard in the store but have yet to actually leave the store without a decision. There is only one chance for these items usually, unlike things in a retail store, it just makes sense to decide quickly.

    I absolutely love what Angie says above about how different people have different roles to play in the clothing ecosystem. That is such a positive outlook and applies to a lot of life.

    And finally, great boots!

  • Jeanie replied 3 years ago

    Great boots!  I love shopping in the mens section of the thrift store.  It's a good place to experiment with menswear and I find the selection better in the mens section.  

  • approprio replied 3 years ago

    So nice to know I'm not the only one shopping the men's department! The quality always seems that bit better for the price.

    Astrid: yes! The monkey boot styling was definitely a selling point. I'd been looking at the ones they have at Dr Martens at the moment, but they looked a bit too casual and I was unimpressed with the quality. 

    These however.... well, they've polished up a treat and they look great with a knee length skirt and DH's black moto jacket. But it's a bit cold for that now so I'm wearing them today with winter woolly trousers and a black blazer to continue with the menswear theme.

  • AnnieMouse replied 3 years ago

    Like approprio and shedevia, I'm a hand-over-the-cash-when-I-find-it-thrifting kinda gal. As pointed out by shedevia, it's so often a one-shot proposition, by and large, and the cost of entry for better quality is much lower, as approprio pointed out. A pretty sizable chunk of my wardrobe is second-hand, either from thrift shopping, clothing swaps, or hand-me-downs when one of my shopoholic grandmothers cleans out her closet (she has impeccable taste, and it makes such a fun contrast to my stuff, creating some interesting juxtopositions that I enjoy). It suits me also because I sometimes get really bored with pieces, and I rest easier with myself knowing I've typically paid <$5 for it - if I shell out for a retail price, I feel obligated to wear it until it falls apart, and I get resentful at myself for being "stuck" in it.

    I will say that when it comes to shoes, I only buy shoes I wear with socks second hand. Slip-ons and heels I simply can't wrap my head around. 

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