Oh the joys of vintage shopping—there’s the thrill of the hunt for the perfect find, the triumph of finding the perfect cocktail dress for your next party, and the glee of knowing you’ll have something that no one else will have. If you’re new to shopping for vintage and find the process a bit daunting, here are five important things I’ve learned along the way that will help make the experience easier and less worrisome for you. Ready to dive in? Let’s do it!
1. The fitting room is your friend
Whenever possible try on your vintage finds before you purchase them. A top that looks like it’s going to fit you on the hanger, may end up getting stuck around your bust because the waist is too small! The proportions on vintage clothing are typically different from its contemporary counterparts. I once found a 1950s gingham top that would have been so cute, only to try it on and realize the bra cups were too big in comparison to the rest of the top which fit perfectly fine. That’s because women used to wear bullet bras which would have filled in those cups. I wasn’t too keen with the idea of sporting a bullet bra so back on the rack that baby went. Another great reason to try a vintage garment on is, in the event it doesn’t fit straight off the rack, you can see if something can be done to make it work. Enter my next tip…
2. You can always get something altered
There will be times when you’ll find something vintage you really love, but it just doesn’t fit you right. Don’t despair and make the mistake of letting something go which turns out you can get altered to fit you exactly right. All you need is a great tailor. A little work goes a long way and you’ll end up with a bespoke garment that will look like it was made just for you. Trust me, it’ll be worth the extra moola.
3. If shopping online, know your measurements
Three of the most important measurements to know are your bust, waist, and hip measurements. Most vintage online shops, mine included, list the garment’s measurements taken with the garment laid down flat and doubled where appropriate. What I do when I shop online is to compare my body’s measurements with the garment’s, keeping in mind I need some room around the bust, torso, and hips for movement and comfort. Another thing I do is I measure a similar item I already have in my closet and use that for comparison. This works well with clothing that’s irregular in shape, i.e. a ’60s A-line shift dress. When in doubt, feel free to ask the seller for additional information and an approximate size if he/she hasn’t already mentioned it in the item’s description.
4. Don’t come in with a plan
Vintage shopping is best done winging it. You may be looking for a 1970s boho maxi dress in white lace, but odds are you may not find something so specific. Inventory in vintage shops, thrift stores, and market stalls change all the time and you’ll never know what to expect—that’s all part of the fun! Keep an open mind, take a deep breath, and dive in.
5. Bring provisions
Last but not least, bring provisions, i.e. bite-sized snacks, a bottle of water, even a tape measure may come in handy! Vintage shopping can be an all day affair and when you’re really stuck in, it’s easy to loose track of time. At least you’ll be prepared.
Stay tuned for my upcoming post on ‘Five Tips to Buying Vintage Online.’ Feel free to subscribe to my blog on Bloglovin’ here to get notified as soon as I publish a new post.
Happy vintage hunting!