Why Vintage Shopping Makes You Happier

why vintage shopping makes you happier

The pace of life is something you seem to talk about a lot as you grow older. Once we hit October, the end of the year comes in a rush, and so many people comment that time is moving fast. When you are busy it is easy to forget to slow down and appreciate each moment. Along with this people are used to getting what they want, where they want, when they want. You are told to change your clothing, your home, your life; on a dizzying cycle of seasons and pushes to get “on trend”. Media, television shows, music, film, celebrities and social media, all give the same message – if you are not up with the latest on everything you are missing out……our beautiful young people are bombarded with the idea of perfection and fitting in – already a huge part of every teenager’s passage into adulthood. Social media is creating an impossible standard that in no way reflects reality.

I remember wanting to fit in ever so much. Feeling like a fish out of water living with type 1 diabetes, in a small country town, with parents who were bohemian and forward thinking, and who also taught at our local area school, I was constantly pushing against being myself. I seemed to be on a never-ending quest to be like “them”. As I grew older I worked out who I was, and realised that is exactly who I want to be. The “them” I had so wanted to be like, were never even close to my idea of what it means to live a valuable life, one that considers others and the planet, making a difference with the time you have here.
When we were kids, our parents always had secondhand and vintage furniture, collectibles, books and clothing. We had new things too, but going to the big smoke to stock up on clothes, or Mary Martin’s bookstore in the city to find the latest treasures to read, as well as an Indian skirt and some incense, were special treats indeed. To me, having vintage in my life was just normal. When I moved out to the city and met my new circle of friends, I realised that it was more normal to go shopping in new stores, and as we shifted into the excess of the 90’s, the consumption of stuff reached peak.

Now, you are constantly reminded to change your sofa, update your living room, shift to the latest seasonal trends, throw out anything you no longer love, check out the latest catalogue and shop, shop, shop. We see fast fashion filling the world with unwanted clothing, furniture and homewares; often made with less than quality materials and under unethical conditions. Much of this ends up tossed away by people eager to fit in…those who have never gotten over the idea that to be who you are means being the same as everyone else; and a false idea that having all of this shiny new stuff will make them happy. On the flipside, some of the stuff that ends up tossed out, ends up in the op shops and comes home with someone like you and I!

There are people who do not buy into the idea of trends, and the tide is turning with more and more of us rejecting the idea that a shopping trip to Westfield is a family outing, or a day out with the girls. More and more of us are realising that what makes us happy is time. Time with those you love. Time to do the things you want to do. Time to make your own things. Time to scour through an op shop or vintage store to find something you need, or bring a treasure back to life. Time to read a book. Time to grow things and wait until they flourish. Time to care for things. Time to enjoy living, rather than shopping. I am not saying I don’t love the thrill of the hunt when it comes to shopping. I have lived with an addiction to shopping in the past. Even buying too much in an op shop is a problem, or picking up roadside finds that you will never use – because ultimately, you will throw it out or back onto the roadside. Even shopping vintage comes with the important responsibility of not buying too much.
why vintage shopping makes you happier
The thing with shopping vintage is that you can not go with a preconceived idea of what you want, whether that be for your home or your clothing. You can know you want a couch, or a jacket, but the colour, style and so on, will be a mystery until you find it, which is really part of the joy of it all. Unlike shopping from a big brand store where their latest ranges are saturating your television set, newspaper and magazines, social media, interior design instagram pages and blogs; and even your letterbox; and you can walk in store and grab one in each colour – shopping vintage means you have to wait to see what you find.

What does that mean?

It means you are slowing down your consumption, you are giving something another life. It means you have something unique and often better quality. It means you save cash! It means you appreciate history, you engage with stories of the past, and you save something going into landfill. It means you are learning to be patient – you learn to wait and most importantly, you learn that being “on trend” and having “the latest” will not make your life better or ultimately make you happy. Time and love really will. You do not have all the time in the world. Fill it with love, not shopping and reap the rewards.
Helen xx
*updated post from 2016

vintage and rustic shelving upcycled in ginas house tour


  1. huntingforvintage on May 26, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    Love the way you think Helen! We have a beautiful shopping center nearby with high-end stores (Macys, Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus, JCrew, etc.) and I never go there unless it’s to a restaurant. New stuff bores me and it’s usually expensive and slip-shod. My favorite shopping is done at thrift stores, yard sales, antique stores and estate sales. 🙂 – Karen
    P.S. The shoelace color “problem” is hilarious.

    • Helen Edwards on May 27, 2017 at 5:56 pm

      totally agree and love your approach!!! My goodness a lot of the same same stuff just makes me want to stab myself in the eye with a fork!! I know the shoelaces right?!! Thanks for sharing

  2. Trudie Bristow on May 27, 2017 at 5:54 am

    Beautiful words lovely and precisely my thoughts exactly.

    • Helen Edwards on May 27, 2017 at 5:54 pm

      you are totally on the same page my dear – this is such an important message we are sharing x

  3. Mauzie & Frank Vintage Luxe on May 28, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    Oh my!
    Helen, you have put a lot of thought into this very articulate, well-worded piece..
    As I have a small Vintage clothing shop, may I have permission to take the final paragraph (with a few small alterations) and include it on my Facebook page please?
    Best regards,

    • Helen Edwards on May 29, 2017 at 7:13 am

      thank you Mauzie! I am more than happy for you to share my post – please link back to the original post 🙂 thanks for reading

  4. Samantha on November 12, 2017 at 7:31 am

    Helen, I too have fought a shopping addiction, but since starting a serious declutter journey have learned the joy of a calm mind brought by having less stuff, and no longer have the need to spend to fill an emotional void. I’m also moving away from buying new and looking more frequently at secondhand or up-cycling when I need something.
    Yesterday I came home to a pile of foam on the floor… my puppy had chewed off the corner of the couch! Previously I would have gone straight to looking at new couches, but I remember seeing a post somewhere ages ago about people using embroidery to fix holes in couches, so I think I’m going to give that a try, and make something beautiful out of the missing chunk!
    Anyway, thanks for your post and inspiration.

    • helene on November 13, 2017 at 10:17 am

      oh my goodness that naughty puppy!!!! I love this, I would love to see what you come up with 🙂

  5. Marg on November 12, 2017 at 8:43 am

    Hi Helen
    That is a great post and so very true Thank you for sharing all you do with us
    I love reading everything you write
    Thanks Marg

    • helene on November 13, 2017 at 10:15 am

      thank you lovely Marg x

  6. Gill Hall on January 24, 2018 at 6:58 am

    Helen, what a wonderful article. Although my story is different my ethos is the same. I truly believe we can live a happier existence surrounded by beautiful things by using vintage in every way possible. I try to promote these values through my Facebook page Style on a Shoestring by Gill. I would love to print this article on my page if you would agree to it. I feel it would speak to many of my followers. All kudos to you of course.
    Thanks again for your words, Gill

    • helene on February 6, 2018 at 9:09 am

      Hi Gill – thanks for reading and sharing! Feel free to share a link to the article on your page 🙂

  7. Esther on October 3, 2018 at 9:45 am

    Hi Helen…..enjoyed reading your post. It reminded me of my growing up wanting to fit in…..my family immigrated to Canada from Germany in the mid 50’s. It was a struggle and most things we had were second hand. My mother worked for some very well off people who gave her bags of clothing for our growing family and we made the most of what we were given….some very good quality gear. When my husband and I started out we furnished our flat with furniture which family were storing in their basement. We had some beautiful old pieces which we very much enjoyed….they made our flat “home”. Some items had very fond personal memories! When I look about now, my home still reflects the warmth of preused/vintage items……love it! As far as being accepted by others…My life experiences and my own being have contributed to a happy me!

    • helene on October 4, 2018 at 8:53 am

      love this so much! thank you for sharing

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