WHEN I WEAR CLOTHES THAT have seen more seasons that I have and I am asked about where they are from, I always find myself conflicted on how to answer. Often wording, not the piece itself, influences how it will be seen. People’s attitudes and emotions get saturated by verbal presentations. It’s a fact every marketing effort is based on and the reason why no commercial ever told you that you were buying, for example, a simple black mascara. Instead, you were sold a “butterfly effect” / “super shock” / “voluminous superstar” / “colossal spider effect” mascara. Sometimes I think that more effort went into creating that name instead of the formula. >>

It’s all about that impact. It’s all about the weight of the story.

It’s all ridiculous, but incredibly effective.

So coming back to clothes, if I say “It’s vintage”, I get positively surprised expressions followed with few approving nods. If I say “It’s secondhand”, I get a confused silent break and a forced positive response that ultimately doesn’t match the expression. The piece they were so enthralled by a second ago, suddenly has a shadow cast over it and it no longer evokes the emotions present upon first impression. “It looks like new,” is the comment that is meant to tell me why they hadn’t realized it wasn’t.

When it comes to describing clothes, both adjectives are overburdened with connotative meanings that overshadow the fact that again, when it comes to clothes, their meaning can overlap. Both imply that I wasn’t the original owner and that the piece is probably older than it looks. Of course, saying “vintage” instead of “secondhand” leaves the option open of the piece being completely new just inspired by a past decade. I can’t leave out the fact that denotative meanings also play their part in influencing emotions since the dictionary explanation for vintage tells you that it represents “the high quality of a past time” or that it is  “the best of its kind” whereas secondhand straightforwardly tells you that it was “previously used or owned”.

Notice the class gap? >>

Unless I am lazy to explain to the person asking, I always like to go with the actual story. The often repetitive narrative is that I had it handed down to me by my mom who probably either got it from my grandma or made it herself. This particular top I am wearing in the photos, this incredibly intricate embroidered piece, was my mom’s. Apparently, it has a matching skirt that I have to dig around for. But even if I managed to find that skirt, dousing myself in one earth tone - brown nonetheless! – is completely unacceptable for me. {Read more about my struggles with earth tones}

So, is this top vintage or secondhand?

You be the judge.


// Pants: by me
// Ankle Boots: Pull&Bear {old}
//Bag: Zara {old}


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