Vintage 101: Top 5 Tips on Shopping Vintage

vintage bannerFrom as early as age 14, when my interest in fashion and personal style began, I have shopped and loved vintage/thrift. Those first experiences with vintage were rummaging through my mom’s closet, picking out fabulous pieces that she’d kept from the 1970’s and 1980’s. Wearing them might have gotten me a few weird looks from the other girls at my high school, but I felt great, not only because I looked so unique, but also because I knew the stories behind the garments. Stories like how my mom went to Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City in 1973 to pick out a professional wardrobe, or finding small-town jewelry shops in Idaho on road-trips (as a side-note, my mom did her university studies in the US). Fashion has proved to be cyclical, but rather than always buying it new, I love incorporating the same trends from when they were first appeared on the radar. Not only does it give you a chance to have and wear one-of-a-kind pieces, but there’s also a history behind those pieces and the designers who made them…many of whom don’t design anymore. The added bonus? It’s good for the environment too.

Shopping vintage can be a bit overwhelming however. Many times the stores are jam-packed with a hodgepodge of different things, all displayed together, so searching through them can take a lot of patience and time. From my experience, I’ve compiled a list of my tips when shopping vintage, to make your shopping trips a whole lot more productive and fun.

  1. Give yourself a lot of time. Vintage shopping isn’t like running into Club Monaco to quickly grab a blazer. As I mentioned above, items are not always merchandised as clearly as other stores, and if you’re going to a thrift store like Value Village, it’s even more spread out.
  2. For the ladies, when shopping vintage, wear a handbag that’s cross-body or just bring your wallet. You’ll need your hands to look through garments and feel things, so the last thing you want is your hands to be tied up.
  3. Look at the make and quality of the pieces before purchasing. A lot of clothes were manufactured in North America or Europe back in those days and it should say so. Also look at the materials; if an item is mostly made up of acrylic or synthetic fibers, it’s not really worth it.
  4. Go for pieces that are classic, rather than what’s funky or outrageous, for example, a beige trench, a navy pea coat, military jackets, cashmere sweaters, etc. Also, any designer pieces that are classic to the brand, like a quilted Chanel purse or an LV suitcase are great finds. Not only do those pieces never go out of style but they actually increase in value if they’re keep in good condition.
  5. If it doesn’t fit but you absolutely love it, find a good tailor! This is something I think a lot of shoppers are weary of. They see something they love but if it’s not in their size, they disregard it. A good tailor can customize a piece to fit your body perfectly, which can modernize it as well.

Lastly, if you’re in the Vancouver area and want to know where to go for great quality vintage clothing, check out the clip below from my show West Coast Style. I featured two of my favourite local shops on an episode I did in season 1.

*I LOVE VINTAGE photo courtesy of the talented M’c Kenneth Licon.