Secondhand army - Varusteleka

Gary Harvey custom camo evening dress
Customized camo evening dress by Gary Harvey.

Shopping for army surplus is one of the best ways to shop secondhand. Especially the officers wear are timeless classics and the rest just handy to have around. Army clothes and accessories are made with far higher standards than regular fashions so they will last you a lifetime which makes them more sustainable. The used materials are also very good so an used 25€ army winter wool jacket will definately keep you warmer (and it has loads of useful pockets too!) than a new 200€ goose feather polyester coat. Many of the materials are inexpensive so one can buy them in large numbers as many fashion noted works often need loads of material, like that Gary Harvey camo evening dress pictured above. And the best part is these shops are the ones your boyfriend will be happy come with! Fun for the whole family :P

In Helsinki the number one place for army surplus is Varusteleka. Located in s huge warehouse just north from Kehä I, they have pretty much anything a gal could need. (Exept an old soviet tank, which I´d love to have parked outside.. But I´ll forgive them for it). The customer service is also top noch. Just forget about the army-ness of these items and think about the fashionable styling and customizing possibilities. Varusteleka webshop is unfortunately available currently only in Finnish but the pictures are pretty good. You can also e-mail the shop if you have querys or questions about any of the items (Varusteleka English site here).

I love a good sales pitch and these guys sure know how to write them. Their webshop item descriptions are the funniest ever yet still very informative. I sometimes humor myself by reading them at work if I get bored. Their last April Fools Day prank made it all the way to radio air, when their webshop announced their selection of Swedish "Commando" underwear pants were sold out. In the picture there was a guy standing with out any pants as "going commando" means you´re not wearing any underwear. The description said "the most comfortable underwear style ever, cool to wear and one size fits all". Priceless..

hello sailor pin up

My recent Varusteleka purchases have included:
Used combat boots 70 €
White sailor cap 7,50 €
Sailor shirt and trousers 20 €
Canvas laundry bags 1€ / bag

sailor cap
Varusteleka Sailor shirt 1

Especially the sailor cap has made me happy as it has got me loads of positive attention in the bars and streets of Helsinki. The shirt and trousers still need some work, but I´m sure I can customize them to fit my figure better. My last combat boots lasted me 15 years and I know these "new" ones will do the same. Usually I´m seen around town in heels, but every girl needs a pair of combat boots just for those days when you just feel like stomping on people. Besides they are a punk classic and look rad.

On my shopping list:
Soviet flight cap with headphones 49 €
German tank jacket 85 €

I think the sales guy said that the flight cap can be used as a mobile phone handsfree set.. How cool is that?! Apparently all the wires work and are compatible to most phones. But the flight cap is just a start until I can get my hands on a real tank cap. My comic heroine Tank Girl has one (plus the tank and a groovy bf named Booga) so I need one as well.. All though I´m thingking of styling it Burberry style with a pilot jacket and a lace skirt and a pair of heels.

tank girl smoking
Varusteleka Soviet flight cap 1
Varusteleka Tank jacket

Styling inspiration from Burberry Fall 2010 collection:

Burberry FW10 5b
Burberry FW10 14a
Burberry FW10 7a
Burberry FW10 6a
Burberry FW10 4a

Outi Les Pyy

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  1. The dress at the top is AMAZING!!! I love mermaid dresses! So cute.

  2. i love those coats!!! forever21 has an amazing coat that looks like those. i have one :) xoxo

  3. It's certainly good to see this stuff start a new life on the street, instead of being trashed as useless junk!

    I passed your greetings to our copywriter and the guy with the handsome butt in the commando underpant pics. Say hi when you drop by in our shop again!


  4. Kiitos vinkistä, aikaa meni Varustelekan kataloogin parissa. Nyt odotan ranskalaista sarkamanttelia (29 €!) postiin. Olisko siitä ensi syksyn ja talven pompaksi. Sveitsiläisiä villakaulahuiveja euro/kpl - niistä voisi saada vaikka mitä (hameen?) Seilorikäpsät ostin tyttärille.