Learn How to Shop for Trendy and Cool Vintage Clothing




If you love the look of decades gone by, you are in luck — vintage clothing is definitely in style. Though it may seem a bit daunting, shopping for vintage clothing isn’t that difficult. To get the most bang for your buck, you will just need to do a little research and know where to shop.

Why you should shop for vintage clothing

Eco-friendly: New clothing can have a negative impact on the environment through pesticides and chemicals, harmful emissions and sweatshop labor. Buying and selling vintage clothing is part of the recycling process.

Unique: Vintage garments are unique. If you are looking for something rare and unusual, rather than the same old thing everyone else is wearing, vintage is the way to go.

Quality: In today’s fashion world, clothing factories are churning out garments as fast as they can. It’s quantity over quality in most instances. Vintage clothing was sewn by hand and designed to be passed down from sibling to sibling or parent to child.

Where to shop for vintage clothing

There are a number of sources for vintage clothes, including directly from older people, thrift stores, vintage shops, flea markets or from online Web sites.

If possible, go directly to the source by raiding your grandmother’s or grandfather’s closet (with permission, of course). This will assure that you are getting actual vintage clothing. Another idea is to put up advertisements at retirement homes or senior centers.
If you can’t find the clothes from an individual, start with estate sales in your area. Many times you can find vintage clothing, jewelry and accessories at pennies on the dollar from estate sales. Check Craigslist and the classified ads in your local newspaper to locate estate sales in your area.

Thrift stores, vintage shops, flea markets and consignment shops also offer vintage clothing. Thrift stores and secondhand shops sell clothing and other items that have been donated by individuals or businesses. Most thrift shops are associated with a charity. The quality of merchandise at thrift stores varies dramatically.

Vintage shops are privately owned. Prices are generally higher at vintage shops than at thrift stores. Usually, vintage shops purchase clothing in bulk, then sort, clean, fix and resell it.
Flea markets and swap meets also can offer vintage clothing. Many times the quality is lower than that found at thrift stores and vintage shops; however, you can find a diamond in the rough.

Consignment shops act as a dealer for individuals wanting to sell used clothing and other items. The individual sets the price, and the shop takes a percentage of the profit or selling price of each item sold. If the shop doesn’t sell the item after a specific period of time, it is returned to the individual.

You can also locate vintage clothing online at eBay, Etsy, Mod Cloth, Vintage Vixen, Dress That Man, Fashion Dig, Nelda’s Vintage Clothing and many other Web sites.

Vintage clothing: Check for damage

The advantage of shopping at brick-and-mortar stores instead of online is that you are able to see the clothing before you buy it. When you find a vintage item that you love, be sure that it is wearable. Check for stains, tears, mold and moth damage. Small tears and general wear are to be expected, but don’t pay a premium price for an item that is deteriorated, stretched out or otherwise significantly damaged. If there is slight, fixable damage, you should be able to haggle on the price and get a better bargain.

Is it really vintage?

Whether you are looking for authentic clothing from the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s or more recent times, keep these things in mind to determine if an item is actually vintage:

  • Plastic zippers didn’t come about until the 1960s — same with fabric care instructions.
  • Suits from the 1940s have no back flaps and the button hole on the lapel is actually functional.
  • Before 1960, most clothing had hand-sewn embellishments and hemlines with intricate stitching.

Make sure it fits

Sizing standards are definitely not the same from decade to decade; therefore, you cannot rely on the size that is on the tag. Before you leave on your shopping trip, take your measurements. Write them down and carry the information with you, along with a tape measure. Although many thrift stores and vintage shops don’t have dressing rooms, you can measure the clothing itself to ensure that it will fit. If it’s too big, buy it anyway – you can always get it tailored. If it’s too small, however, leave it on the rack; it is almost impossible to add fabric to a piece of vintage clothing.