How to shop for Vintage Clothes

1. Search small boutiques. Big “thrift” shops are great…of course! Especially when you just want to browse. But when it comes to shopping vintage for trendy looks, it’s probably best not to be distracted by bins and bins of potential, but not necessarily relevant, clothing. Smaller vintage boutiques are far more choosy about what they stock, and why. If bright, “pop” colours are “in” smaller, boutique-style vintage shops WILL have options.

2. Have in mind what trend you’re shopping before heading out. Take magazine cutouts with you…or at least a picture in your head. It’s all about staying focused!

3. What if you’re not sure what’s hot this season? Pay attention to what there’s most of in the shops. Vintage clothing sellers do pay attention to the runways, trends, and generally what’s going on in the contemporary world. If you see an entire rack of graphic 80′s tees or printed 90′s jeans, it’s a safe assumption that THAT is what’s next in style, and what you should be paying attention to.

4. Just for fun, track a trend back to its origins. You may encounter some “new, old” ways to accessorise a trend, beyond what you see in the magazines. Find great big wells of information and inspiration on our list of the Best Vintage Tumblrs, second edition.

By digitally digging thru the fashion archives, you get to see who has worn it before. Gauge their body type against yours. Can you find images of a celeb that wore this trend the first time around? If she has the same, let’s say, pear-shaped body as you? If it looked good on them, then it’s possible it’ll look good on you. This shouldn’t keep you from the very last rule of shopping vintage for trends, though. See number 8.

5. Ask yourself a few crucial questions: Is the piece you’re about to buy wearable even after it’s disappeared from the pages of the fashion magazines? If the answer is no, and it is just a novelty piece, perhaps you should just buy it at H&M or Forever 21. Vintage is not always cheap, so if it’s just a one-season, disposal item, better to not to make a major investment. Now, how do you know if it’s a disposable item? Can you see yourself wearing it with 2 or more pieces you ready own? Does it blend with your existing wardrobe? Yes? Then invest!

6. Shop early. Because there is almost always only one of everything, everything is one of a kind, pieces tend to go quickly. So all of the “in style” (and well-priced) winter coats at your favourite shop are out of stock by the time the season really kicks in. Fashionistas snatch up the good stuff quick, especially at boutiques, and leave you with the overpriced, and the not so cute. Start shopping on fashion magazine publishing schedule–weeks in advance of the season. The likes of Vogue and Elle will be telling you what to wear for spring in February, so start looking for corresponding and special vintage pieces then!

7. Ask a sales clerk. Now the sales clerk may not be the buyer. Best if she’s not; then you get a more objective perspective. If she is a real vintage-lover, (which, most vintage shop assistants are), she’ll know what’s just come in, what’s most popular, and more importantly, they’ll have ideas about what might look good on you.

8. Try on, try on, try on. Vintage-lovers know this well: the cuts and fabrics of vintage clothing makes sizing difficult. How many times have you seen attempts at vintage clothing sizing charts? How may times have those charts been WAY off? If you’re buying online, have your measurements handy. Any vintage clothing retailer worth her salt will post the measurements of the garment in the description. If you only see “Small”, “Medium”, or “Large” by way of size description, I’d suggest inquiring about the measurements by email. If you’re at a brick-and-mortar shop, proceed to the fitting room!

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