Five of the best ‘second-hand’ style movies

It may have been the first time I watched ‘Pretty in Pink’ that I realised second-hand style was for me. Nearly twenty years later I still class it as one my all time favourite films. And not really for the romance between Andy and Blaine, or the friendship between Andy and Ducky. For me it was Andy’s brilliant thrift store style. From that moment I was hooked on trawling through charity shops (which were very unfashionable in the eighties), forever wanting to be Molly Ringwald.

Since then, other films have played an important part in my personal quest to pursue a second-hand style. This is my Top Five:

5. Frances Ha

Frances Ha: thrift style movie

This Noah Baumbach film came out in 2012  and features Greta Gerwig as the clumsy and quirky eponymous character. She’s a dancer, she lives in New York and – as you would expect – she has great style. Most of her clothes come from thrift stores, including a black bomber jacket and nineties style floral dresses with leggings.  I read an interview with Ms Gerwig who said that nearly all the outfits were bought from second-hand stores or dance clothing shops.

4. Annie Hall

Annie Hall: thrift store style

Unlike many of the films featured here I also love this for its humour, characters and plot. That is, being a Woody Allen creation, there’s something more to it than some of the teenage romance flicks I’ve featured. While it is one of my all time favourite films I can’t remember where Annie Hall sources her clothes from. However her look is unique (although much copied now). I love Diane Keaton’s own personal style but it’s the men’s waistcoats, ties and floppy hats that makes Annie’s style so iconic.


3. Happy Go Lucky

happy go lucky

I love Mike Leigh’s work and this 2008 film, starring Sally Hawkins, is wonderful and uplifting. Poppy is a primary school teacher with endless enthusiasm and optimism. Nothing really gets her down. I really like the way all the female friendships are portrayed in this film too. Poppy’s dress sense is quirky and – I suspect – second-hand. She also has a great line in tights. I thoroughly recommend this film for when you’re having a bad day: Poppy’s happy-go-lucky perspective on life is wonderful.


2. Desperately Seeking Susan

Desperately Seeking Susan: thrift store style

This film actually features a thrift store scene that is quite pivotal to the plot. Rosanna Arquette’s character, Roberta, acquires the jacket (and stolen earrings) that belonged to the eponymous Susan (played by Madonna). Both female characters have great dress sense (that is after Roberta ditches the mid eighties yuppy look), although I think Madonna/Susan just has the edge. The plot’s pretty thin but to a thirteen year old me it was the clothes I was far more interested in. It also confirmed what a lot of us already knew: Madonna is the ultimate style icon.


  1. Pretty in Pink Pretty in Pink: the best second-hand style of all timeAlthough Ducky has fairly cool dress sense, the rest of the male characters are clothed in the awful mid 80s combination of pastels and linen and it’s the women who really stand out with both style and attitude. From the ‘I don’t give a damn’ punkish look of Andy’s friend Jenna, to the amazing dress sense of record store Iona  and of course, Andy’s perfect blend of thrift store finds and home sewing. I love Iona’s wardrobe collection (and oh the disappointment when she turns ‘yuppy’). How I wished that I could have worn even one tenth of Andy’s outfits to school (we had a uniform, although Sixth Form college allowed me to unleash my love of hats, inspired by Andy). I will watch this film again and again, and not really for the plot or the on-off romance. I only have eyes for Molly Ringwald and her dresses!

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