I have been playing around with vintage and old school items for a couple of years now, and although I may not have the full experience of a senior vintage shopper, I like to think of myself as a curator. Being a vintage curator is such a beautiful job to do because you get to go through piles and piles of clothes to find the pieces that you like that represent different eras of history. Each piece has a story to tell through its signs of wear. I went to many different stores, warehouses and boutiques to get my vintage collection growing before I decided to start selling some of them online. I was very weary and cautious about it because the authenticity part is very important to me and offering my customers top quality products is what makes me thrive to continue into this business.
I wanted to share with you today my tips and tricks on buying vintage successfully. You gotta be careful between thrifted items and vintage items. I do have some thrifted and some reworked items in my shop but I make sure to carefully state that into my listings because you don’t want to break the trust you have with your customer. Thrifted items are typically newer, second-hand, items you find in the high street, such as Zara, Topshop, Mango and more that have been (slightly or barley in some cases) worn and then given away to charity. Most huge places like Value Village have a variety of thrifted items…more so than vintage shops. Although, I have found a couple of unique vintage items there and they were a score! Vintage items are of course the items that come from previous decades, generally speaking, 20 years before our current time. Although some might even consider the 90s vintage…
So without further ado, here are my tips on buying vintage like a pro.
The first thing you want to be looking at is the label to make sure that you are truly buying vintage items. Typically, vintage labels don’t have too many details as much as the ones we find today. Vintage labels usually have weird sizes…like 16 ½ or 7 for example. That’s when you know you’re scoring vintage. Also the country of manufacturing plays a huge role in knowing whether your item is authentic or not. You also can look at the materials, sometimes there will be weird names such as Orlon or Dacron Polyester. I think that should give you more of an insight of what you’re buying; whether it is vintage or not.
You want to make sure you are buying a good product for your money’s worth. Usually vintage items are much more expensive than thrifted or second-hand items because of their rarity. You want to make sure that the items you are buying are in good condition and in good quality. The finishing of vintage items was usually handmade and so the care that is put in every piece if much more visible than today’s clothes. You will see that the quality of the fabric and the quality of the finishing are top notch! Most fabric feels heavy and dense, even when you buy vintage silk. Yes, the fabric will be delicate and you must be careful when washing, but its quality will be outstanding.
3- Bad Staining and Moth Holes
When buying vintage make sure you look at your items with extra care, check every inch of your garment and make sure there are no holes, stains or tears because you don’t want to invest into something that’s battered. If you think you can fix the item in a way that won’t be visible, then go for it and buy it, as long as it’s not too expensive. Moth holes are usually small and are not too visible but make sure you look for them…they can create further damage to a garment if not noticed beforehand, especially in knitwear; because the holes tend to get bigger and bigger. Also, make sure to check the armpit area, you don’t want yellow stains under there….they’re hard to remove in vintage items because they have been there for years.
4-Cut, Silhouette and Style
Vintage sizes are usually smaller than today’s sizes because women’s structure and frame was smaller. I could sometimes usually go for a large in 70s (or previous) items due to cut of them. Make sure to try on before you buy (unless you buy online…then make sure all the measurements are available) because you want to ensure that the fit is flattering on your own silhouette. If an item is too small don’t buy it, there’s no use unless you’re a super creative seamstress and can work miracles. If it’s too big, don’t worry about it, because that you can easily fix and alter it to your own liking.
5- Colors and patterns
That’s what usually attracts me to vintage shopping…most vintage garments are colourful and fun and the focus goes onto the details. I love how creative you can get when shopping vintage. When you shop at smaller boutiques, you get to experience a part of the owner’s world because his/her items represent them in a way. You get to be unique when you buy vintage because you ensure that no one out there will have a similar piece as you. Then you get to play with that piece in your own way and put a twist into your outfits. Vintage definitely gives you the opportunity to be creative and playful with patterns, colors and textures and that’s how you get to tell your own story through clothes. And extra bonus, you get to reduce your toxic fashion footprint by using something old and making it new again.
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So, if you’re new to shopping vintage, I recommend you start by shopping for classics and basics that you know you can easily mix and match into your existing wardrobe. Look for blazers, cardigans, shirts and even accessories. They’re the easiest pieces that can easily transition from season to season. If you’re afraid of going too bold, start with something minimal and then go from there. You’ll see that once you get the hang of vintage shopping, you’ll end up loving it. So don’t be afraid to dive in and take a chance, maybe you’ll end up an addict just like me!
Last (extra) tip, for those looking to shop vintage online…obviously check out ETSY or EBAY, there’s a couple of great online shops out there. I would look at reviews mostly to make sure that what I am buying is just right. Make sure to ask the buyers questions and if you love something but you’re not sure about spending too much, don’t shy away from bargaining, if sure that the shop owners would be open to conversation. I linked my shop, obviously, because why wouldn’t I do a little bit of self-promo? There you have it!!! Go explore and hopefully, you’ll find what you are looking for.