Vintage clothing is hot, high-quality, and adds that individualistic touch to your wardrobe. Here are some tips on where to go and what to look for.
Finding Vintage Clothing at Thrift Stores
A lot of vintage shop owners scour thrift stores for their inventory; if you get there first, you might find a few pieces without the markup. That said, a lot of thrift shops are getting savvy and marking up accordingly, but you can still find some good deals with enough perseverence.
Buying Vintage Clothing Online
Etsy and eBay are home to numerous vintage sellers. Some offer free or discounted shipping if you buy large quantities. Just make sure to ask about their return policies in case something doesn’t fit.
When shopping online, compare the desired garment’s measurements with something you already own. Most sellers take flat measurements and double the number along the chest, waist, and hips. Women should measure the inside of the comparison garment to get a more accurate bust measurement; this will account for the darts and give a better idea of the cup size the desired garment can accommodate. Ask for more measurements if necessary.
Shopping at Vintage Clothing Stores
The markup is higher at a vintage store than a thrift store because the proprietor hand-selects, cleans, and sometimes mends the garments before putting them up for sale. You’re paying for their garment knowledge as well as labor. They scoured through racks upon racks of clothing and saved you some work.
If a piece is a little over your budget, ask if they’re willing to negotiate. Offering cash and buying large quantities are the best ways to receive a discount. Be reasonable, though, because they have a business to run.
Try Everything On
Don’t pay attention to the size tag, if one even exists. It no longer applies. Remember the adage that Marilyn Monroe wore a size 14? That’s an 8 today, thanks to vanity sizing.
And please don’t force on a garment that barely fits. Most vintage garments are endangered species and irreplaceable if you split a seam while squeezing into that too-small pencil skirt; show a little respect.
Prepare to Clean and Mend if You Want a Steal
Fallen hems and split seams are easy to repair. Missing buttons can be replaced. Linings can be reattached or replaced. If you lack basic sewing skills, take a class or find a friend who owes you a favor.
Related: Clothing Boutiques: The World’s 8 Best Boutiques (Hint One Is In Idaho)
Some vintage stores dry clean their clothes, but if not, you can freshen up most garments with a home dry-cleaning kit or a simple airing-out.
Learn What to Dismiss
If holes and shattered fabric are present, let it go, unless you’re buying it for costume or restoration purposes. Same with moth damage, unless it’s a teeny-tiny moth hole in an inconspicuous spot and the jacket is otherwise too perfect to pass up.
While mustiness is normal, stains and perspiration odors are not. That said, if the item goes for two bucks at a thrift store, soak it in OxyClean and see if its condition improves. You might uncover a diamond in the rough.
Consider Reproductions of Vintage Clothing
If many vintage clothing don’t fit you, or you simply don’t like the idea of wearing someone else’s clothes, consider repros. Online stores like reVamp and Blue Velvet offer a variety of styles that are sure to fit you.
Think of it as a new way to shop. You’ll build a unique wardrobe, and if you tire of any particular piece, you can eBay it, or take it to a vintage store to sell or trade for something else.