5 Tips for Shopping for Vintage Fashions

What is Vintage? Essentially, ‘vintage’ is just another name for second-hand clothing, but it can be expensive. Antique flapper dresses from the 1920s and original Raoul Dufy designs are gorgeous, but discovering unique pieces doesn’t have to be expensive.

  • Thrift Shopping If your funds are limited, but you are adventurous, try thrift store shopping. It sometimes takes effort, depending on how the shop is set up and organized, but the results can be very rewarding. My most recent finds were a full length Eileen Fisher silk skirt and a vintage Valentino Boutique Couture Blouse (tags still on) for $17.00, total. Another trip netted me several silk designer scarves (Echo, Ferragamo, Valentino, Liberty of London among them) for $20.00 total for the bagful. Even if I had the money for these at retail, I would choose to spend those 100’s of dollars on other things. I love owning a beautiful designer piece, but love even more that I own them, and spent so little.

  • The List The key to a successful shopping trip is to go with a piece (or pieces) in mind, otherwise it can be overwhelming. Do you need a skirt for a special event, a belt to freshen up a t-shirt and jeans look, or a silk blouse to brighten a dull business suit? This way you can scan shelves and racks for the colors and textiles you want, and only pull those items out. It is safe to say, if you are looking for a black slip dress, you can skip the obvious yellow neon plaid and green striped numbers.

  • Choose Well Build up a list of ideas whenever you go out and come up with your own thrift shopping rules. Steer clear of anything stained rather than just a little dusty, and things with the strong scent of mothballs should be avoided because that scent will never come out 100%. Tiny holes can be mended if they are not very visible, you want to look good not like a little rag doll (unless that is your personal look). Fabric and pattern choices should fit your current wardrobe if you want to incorporate it in everyday use. Choose the wilder looks for parties and special events.

  • Patience Give yourself time. You may not find the perfect piece the first time, or the second, but the third time you might. Take the time to build a perfect wardrobe. Explore the shops and flea markets and if you find yourself frequenting one shop, introduce yourself to the owner and ask if they will give you a call the minute new things come in.

  • Accessories If you’re still unsure about ‘second-hand clothes’, just shop for accessories. Bags, belts and scarves are easily incorporated into an everyday wardrobe. Finding pretty pieces sometimes takes as much dedication as scanning for clothing, but when you find that perfect pair of 1960’s pink rhinestone basket earrings for $2.00 you’ll be converted. Then you just might look around and take a chance on a new ruffled tuxedo shirt or a fun 1970’s mini skirt, and you’ll never see shopping the same way again. Look at it this way, it’s closet of fashion you can raid without mom and grandmom getting mad at you!

    Socially Responsible Shopping Thrifting and vintage shopping is also a great way to recycle. With so many beautiful fashions in thrift and vintage shops you may be able to find what you need and in essence recycle a well-made garment. If the current trends aren’t your taste, you may find past looks in great condition. If you are like me, and dress to express yourself, not follow the trends to the letter, then I think you’ll be very happy. Many thrift shops benefit charities too, so in some cases just by shopping, you’ll be doing a good deed. Just get out there and look!
    Photo, vintagevibes.com

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