The Hand-Me-Down Renaissance

Want to stay stylish while avoiding fast fashion? Hand-me-downs might be the answer.
white woman wearing a head scarf in her hair
Source: Pexels

As children, it almost felt like a punishment—receiving a wrinkled shopping bag of haphazardly folded hand-me-downs from distant cousins or…don’t even say it… older brothers. But now, as retro trends are dominating the fashion scene, grandma’s closet might be a goldmine.

When 74% of consumers say that secondhand apparel is more socially acceptable—and even braggable—than it was five years ago (according to thredUP’s 2022 Resale Report), sporting lightly loved fashion is undoubtedly having a renaissance. And while we love the circular economy of donating and thrifting, just because you want to wear secondhand doesn’t mean you have to buy it. Instead, shop in the closets of friends and family! On average, people tend to wear only half of their closet, so why not do a clothing swap and let someone else rock the things that you've outgrown?

To help kickstart a kind of circular closet economy, try out our vintage scavenger hunt and seek out these 70s, 80s, and 90s trends that are back in high style and just waiting to be found and flaunted.

Bells: Whether they’re bell-bottom jeans or bell-sleeved blouses, you can’t help but groove with bells on.

Platform Boots: Boots are no longer reserved just for winter months, especially when they come with a few extra stylish inches. And white boots? They’re good to go-go.

Corduroy: Jackets, pants, skirts, even hats—the soft-to-the-touch grooves of corduroy are back in style all year round.

Crochet: From halter tops and sweaters to skirts and vests, the world is telling us to crochet every-which-way.

Tinted Glasses: Indoors, outdoors, all year long, tinted sunglasses shout stylishly mysterious.

Puffs and Ruffs: From shoulder pads to puffy sleeves and ruffled fabric, textured blouses and blazers are back.

Belt Bag/Bum Bag/Fanny Pack: Call them what you will, but the brilliance of hands-free fanny packs has rightfully enlightened another generation.

Bike Shorts: In honor of the ever-popular fashion icon, celebrate Princess Di’s iconic style with the retro high-waisted bike shorts and oversized sweatshirt combination.

Power Suits: This comeback trend has been around for a while, but that doesn’t mean that your old power suits are behind the curve.

Bomber Jackets: The incomparable sheen and puff of bomber jackets are practical statement pieces that really never seem to slip from the spotlight.

Scrunchies: The bolder and bigger the better these days to tie a whole outfit together.

Button Downs: Business blouses, casual tops, cardigan sweaters—pullovers are out and button downs are in.

Overalls: They come with pants, shorts, and skirts, single clasp and double, wear over camisoles, T-shirts, or turtlenecks—the options are endless!

Bucket Hats and Bandanas: For blocking the sun’s rays or tying back those fly-aways, 80s headgear is still functional and fashionable.

Cargo Pants: Simply said—can you ever have too many pockets?

In a world of fast fashion that screams, “New is always better,” just remember that what goes around comes around… and around and around again, and hand-me-downs are up-and-coming.

From Green American Magazine Issue