- Have patience and dig deep
- Check carefully if there are any defects
- Learn to distinguish washable stains from indelible ones
- Make friends with the ladies
- Know who to stay away from
- Before paying, review what you have saved
- Accessories: check the interior
- Watch out for the size!
- Evita i capi fast fashion
- Prefer natural fibers
- Bonus tip: The market gives, the market takes away
10 tips for doing business at the local market
I’ve been going to the local markets for at least twenty years, and I’ve only spent the least part of these years buying fruit and vegetables. I was a teenager when I started buying clothes at the market, and even then my friends were complimenting me on the absurd (but also objectively stylish) things I could find; I happily replied that I paid two euros for the shirt, eight for the shoes, one for the skirt and so on. Even today I rarely wear clothes worth more than a few tens of euros – perhaps I only go out of it in winter, and not by much.
But I’m not talking about the new market clothes, those in flammable material with flower prints at €5.99, that cacophony of toxic colors and badly sewn by desperate people who get paid a few cents a day. Those clothes are only good for accelerating the planet’s entropy and negating the karma of you and your offspring, near and far (if there is one).
I’m talking about the stalls all for one euro , those where you can find the fiorelloni print of the past seasons, but also vintage pieces, designer clothes, inventories, jackets of deceased grandmothers. In short, of everything. And precisely because there is everything, it is necessary to have some guiding principle in the choice – otherwise there are two risks, specular: either you take home a ton of useless stuff, or you go away sad and dazed without having found anything good. Never be!
Before getting to the decalogue, I would like to underline a fundamental difference between buying clothes at the market and buying them new in low-cost chains : low-cost new clothes usually have a very limited life because they were made with poor quality materials, but not necessarily the same can be said of the clothes you find at the market stall. Here you can certainly find old collections of Zara or H&M ( vintage wannabe model ), but also find pieces of fine workmanship and resistant materials, which will last you a lifetime – if you know what to look for.
I say this because I often hear around that second-hand sucks and, if it’s to spend little, you might as well go to *insert name of any fast fashion chain* which is at least new . Here, I think that this idea of the new is a misunderstanding of late capitalism: new is not necessarily good, or better. This morning’s new is this afternoon’s obsolete, and the search for the new every season has led the fashion industry to be one of the first causes of environmental pollution that will exterminate us all. Am I exaggerating? Skip to tip number 9 now for an apocalyptic spoiler . So on these pleasant notes we introduce the decalogue without further delay !
1. Be patient and dig deep
But how do you find these things at the stalls? I never find anything! Nine times out of ten it’s because you don’t look hard enough. It takes at least a quarter of an hour to turn over a medium-sized stall: slowly you move and dig a little further, grab, look, discard or hold, from top to bottom.Now I happen to dig so deep that I find a beautiful piece only to find that, damn it!, it’s the cloth that covers the table where the clothes are piled up. Don’t let the first few minutes put you off, because often the reward of finding a good piece makes you forget the tedium of having to search through a pile of irrelevant stuff.
2. Check carefully if there are any defects
Unstitched parts, stains, holes, missing buttons, zippers that won’t close : not everything can be repaired, and if you only realize it once you get home, you run the risk of having to throw it away. The opposite may also be true, however: if you happen to have well-made trousers that are missing a zipper and you are able to replace them, it will still be an extra ten minutes well spent. Even missing buttons may not be a problem, but only if they are simple, not convoluted; otherwise you will have to replace the entire set.
Holes and stains are the most difficult to fix: a hole today is a chasm tomorrow, and mending must necessarily be creative to avoid the Dickensian poor child effect . The spots, then, take us directly to council number
3. Learn to distinguish washable stains from indelible ones
Market haters put stains on top of their Pyramid of Disgust: see? how disgusting to wear things that others have already worn . Of course, if it weren’t for the fact that not all stains are created equal: in years of honorable career I have very rarely come across a garment that had unequivocally ugly stains (by ugly I mean produced by someone else’s body, his and ours in spite of ) – and it is certainly not a problem of all the market stalls, but rather of individual sellers, let’s say more pirate-like.
Diagnosing the stain is not always an easy process, and the more you do it the more you know:
- rust and discolorationsdo not come off;
- if it rainsand a piece ends up on the ground in a puddle , take it anyway and wash it at home;
- if a white collar is yellowedyou can try to whiten it with hydrogen peroxide , taking painstaking care not to get it on the colored parts;
- if you use a stain remover the mantra of the bleach packsapplies : try first on a hidden part of fabric to check the color fastness , and good luck.
Bags and leather in general deserve a separate chapter , more difficult to remove stains in a localized way but which can be revived in many ways: with milk, wine, face creams, cleansing milk. While you’re still there at the stall, ask some of the ladies who are rummaging with you for an opinion. In this regard, here is tip number
4. Make friends with the ladies
No blog post can genuinely replace or enhance the wisdom accumulated over decades of housework by the women you’ll meet in the marketplace. They may be bored stiff with chores around the house, but if you ask them about the size of a shirt or how to get mold out of a purse, you’ll have access to valuable knowledge, without the condescending tone of WikiHow.
5. Know who to stay away from
Market sociality is fine, but there are categories of people from which it is necessary to distance oneself to avoid adding stress with difficulty. There are two types, which often overlap: those who invade your space and steal the pieces from under your nose, and those who turn clothes upside down at supersonic speed by spilling them onto the portion of the stall where you are rummaging. In both cases, your serene search is disturbed by an unpredictable external factor, driven by a totally out of context (and out of control) predatory survival instinct. Switch stalls and come back later, or settle in the opposite corner from the raptor and come back Olympic to mind your own business.
More tolerance for those who stand next to you, watch what you do and occasionally apologize and take something that just passed you. It happens to all of them when curiosity remains but isn’t assisted by the strength in your arms: it’s your precise job to help a tired warrior find her sprint again, or to leave the field without feeling like she’s missed something.
6. Review what you have saved before paying
Five or six pieces today, big catch! yes, but you understand that if the same thing is repeated once a week you will soon have a space problem at home. It’s all about the clothes and only keep the ones you really like , because it often happens that in a pile of so-so stuff, a barely nice garment shines more for the mediocrity of the context than for its own merits.
A fuchsia bra with summer village embroidery: do you really need it?
7. Accessories: Check out the interior
Bags, fanny packs and purses are often filled with newspaper: do not buy anything without first checking that the internal conditions are equal to the external ones . If you don’t do it, everything could be fine for you, you can even find interesting finds, but if you find dirt and stains you end up agreeing with those who think the market sucks , and we already know that it’s an excessively strict position. Sometimes the bags are also wrapped: it goes without saying that the wrapping must be opened, inspected and closed again – because a two-euro fanny pack is a bargain, but if it’s damaged or stained you’re paying to be the next to throw it in the yellow containers.
Interesting Finds Out Of A Vintage Bag, Since 1995 With Love.
8. Pay attention to the size !
This is obvious, and even if you can’t try on the garment, you have many tools at your disposal to understand if it fits you well or not:
- shirts and T-shirtsshould be placed on the shoulders to see if they are the same size, long sleeves should follow the profile of the slightly bent arm;
- the trousersmust be evaluated starting from the crotch to understand if they fit well on the leg and how high the waist is;
- the jacketsmust be submitted to the judgment of allied ladies and/or friends with mobile phones who take a picture of you (a little from a distance, otherwise the wide-angle effect distorts the proportions);
- skirts, especially if long, have the advantage that the waist can move a little further up or down, until they fit comfortably.
9. Evita i capi fast fashion
We talked about it at the beginning, but if you are not familiar with the concept, read the Treccani page that explains the fast fashion production model , or the article by D di Repubblica on the environmental impact of low-cost collections. In a nutshell: by fast fashion we mean the serial placing on the market of dozens of collections a year, at a very low cost and with a very short life cycle. H&M, Zara, Mango, Topshop, Primark are the best known chains. You will find several specimens on the stalls all for one euro, but I advise you not to buy them. For three reasons: because even for one euro they are a wrong investment (they don’t last very long), because they are the product of the second most polluting economy after that of oil (not to mention the exploitation of labour), because stylistically there is nothing more massified than this design with a fake vintage taste. There are extenuating circumstances: fast fashion that arrives at the counters for a whole euro has partially escaped the economic cycle that generated it,Not that, to investigate the profits of the second hand, we don’t find mafia infiltrations and millionaire illicit trafficking . The topic is very thorny, and the unpleasant impression of unwittingly stirring up trouble is very strong. The important thing, as in many other cases, is to document oneself in order to make (more) informed choices.
10. Choose natural fibers
Here too there is some discussion, because natural does not necessarily mean that its production is less polluting, as explained by The Vision article on the production and disposal cycles of the textile industry . But a pure wool sweater certainly lasts a very long time and by washing it you don’t put microplastics back into circulation. Linen and bamboo better than wool, wool better than cotton, cotton better than viscose and everything better than polyester. It’s hard to be virtuous when you have a fascination for the Falls of Style that also passes through improbable colors and abominable fabrics, but isn’t life perhaps a continuous improvement, to then die at the most beautiful moment?
Bonus tip , also known as the Closing Philosophical Maxim :
11. The market gives, the market takes away
Approach the stalls of the local market with a spirit open to the infinite possibilities of research, but immediately abandon any intention of finding only what you need . You are looking for trousers and you find a wallet, you are looking for a skirt and you find a hat, you are looking for a bag and you find a piece of fabric: that’s okay. One day you will have enlightenment and you will understand that the streets of the market are often dark, but they are part of the greater plan of liberation from the Tyranny of the Shelf.