Nothing can give your style status like a vintage garment or accessory. With fashion constantly making references to eras gone by, there’s nothing like having “the real deal” when you want to give a nod to the past with your ensemble. Best of all, when you buy vintage clothes there’s often very few of that item left in the world – making it not quite, but almost one-of-a-kind. That in itself gives your outfit an edge!
Vintage clothing has become massively popular over the last few years, with celebrity fashionistas embracing it the most. Whether it’s Kate Moss rocking a pair of vintage Vivienne Westwood pirate boots, or Lady Gaga sauntering up the red carpet in a show-stopping antique Dior gown, many celebs are rail-rifling their way through the world of vintage fashion. Perhaps the best-known clothes horse for vintage style is the queen of vintage herself, Dita Von Teese – who lives and breathes 1950’s glam.
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Vintage shopping is all about patiently hunting for the best finds, and won’t satisfy those shopaholic urges like traditional shopping will. You can spend what seems like an eternity scouring vintage clothing stores to no avail – but if you persist, you’ll eventually find that piece that makes it all worthwhile.
So what do you need to know about buying vintage clothes? Here are some tips!
Where to Buy
Internet shopping is fantastic when it comes to buying contemporary fashion – high-quality photographs, detailed descriptions, customer reviews, and measurement charts. It’s all brand new and less likely to be faulty. It’s not that often that you have to send anything back – especially when you’ve made previous purchases from a certain brand or retailer before.
Online vintage clothing stores, on the other hand, don’t give you all these options. Because the items are second hand, and in a lot of cases many decades old, wear and tear are to be expected. The extent of this wear and tear (and potential smells!) is best gauged in person – therefore it’s much better to seek out your vintage finds in person, at your nearest vintage clothing stores (which you can easily locate via good old google).
If you do take your chances by purchasing vintage clothes online, however, make sure a returns policy is in place. Know your rights, so should the item not be what you expected you can return it for a full refund.
You’re in the vintage store raiding the rails, you pull back a haggard dress that you wouldn’t even bury your mother-in-law in… and then you see it. It’s love at first sight. You’ve found the vintage clothing equivalent of a soul mate! Now what? Like with any potential soul mate, you give them a thorough once over of course!
What to look for:
- Check the zippers, buttons, and other embellishments. Are they all there? Do the zippers function properly? If they’re not, can you replace them?
- Tears. Are they noticeable? Are they easily repairable?
- Does it smell? With the exception of I-think-someone-might-have-died-in-this smells, some vintage garments might just have that musty old-clothes smell about them or the previous owner’s perfume. Usually, this will go away after a wash or two (if the item is washable of course) though if it can’t be washed, a gentle odor neutralizing spray will help – as will a great many other methods.
- Stains. Whilst some stains can be removed by hand (or even restoration professionals), others are just too resilient to get rid of – especially if they were made a long time ago. If it doesn’t look like something you can tackle, you’re best off keeping your money and continuing on with your search.
Remember. If there are flaws in a potential purchase, a factor that into the price and asks yourself if you really think it’s worth investing in.
Most women will try on clothing before buying it. This is even more essential with vintage clothing. In some eras (such as the 50′s) the average woman’s body shape was different to what it is now, and so clothing designers catered towards that. Whilst the label might say it’s your size, it’s always worth making sure so you can ensure the cut and fit is flattering to your figure. If you’re confident in your abilities with a needle and thread, however, you can always alter the garment yourself.
A few more things to consider:
- Take an opportunity when you see it: If something catches your eye and it’s within your budget – grab it! There’s a good chance the opportunity will never come around again.
- Care: Every vintage piece will have different care and washing requirements. Some pieces won’t have labels. If you’re unsure, make sure you ask the seller. If you’re still unsure, do plenty of research before doing anything rash!
- Will I wear it? What will it go with?: This is probably something we should ask ourselves during EVERY clothing purchase, not just clothes of the vintage variety.
- Is it worth it?: Naturally, a vintage designer piece will cost an absolute fortune in comparison to something with no label. When you take that into account, along with age, rarity and condition, it all factors into the price. However, if you like something, but don’t think it’s worth the price for you – then that’s all the reason you need not buy it.
And there you have it. All the best with your forays into vintage fashion!