Vintage clothing is something that has intrigued me since a very young age; I have always loved things that are a bit different and found the styles and fashions of different eras absolutely fascinating – especially being a bit of a history nerd! The experience of buying vintage clothing is so much fun and certainly a bit different to just popping down to your local high street; it is so exciting not knowing what you are going to discover. Today I have put together a guide to help you get the most out of shopping for clothes from bygone eras and find pieces that really work for you and your style. I’ve got a lot to share from my experiences so we better get cracking!
Size doesn’t matter
The first rule of vintage shopping is to let go of your preconceptions about the size of clothing. You don’t want to miss out on the perfect 80s shirt because you are a size 8 and it is a size 12. Just because it isn’t your size that doesn’t mean it isn’t meant to be. How can that be? Well, there are amazing people who can work wonders on your dream clothes – find yourself a great tailor and voila suddenly the whole rail is yours to browse.
And, if the item you choose can’t be easily (or affordably) altered then there’s always the option to wear your item oversized. This is a great way to wear vintage and you know what, why shouldn’t you wear that huge taffeta dress if you love how it looks. My top tip when going oversized is to add a belt, it’s a great, easy way to add shape to any outfit. Why not give it a try?
When shopping, vintage or otherwise, it is easy to get overexcited when we see that something we are an interested in is reduced or just being sold cheaply. Although sometimes pricey, it is often the case that vintage clothing is cheaper than the average high street prices. This is because it is second hand and as one of those people who gets a thrill out of finding a bargain, I often find that it is easy to become blinded by the low price of an item.
It is important to remember that just because it is really cheap, it doesn’t mean you necessarily need it. Stop and take a moment to think if it actually would go with anything in your wardrobe, when would you wear it and what would you wear it with? Most importantly, ask yourself if you would still buy it if it was £10-£20 more? If the answer is yes then you know that it is the piece for you – pop it in your basket, you’ve just found a great bargain that you will love and wear. Result!
Don’t be afraid to ask
On a similar note, it is also important to consider the price of the item and if you think it is fair for what you are getting. Most of the time the pricing of items is very accurate, especially in vintage shops – however, there are a few opportunities where you can ask for better prices and often sellers will be very accommodating.
So, when is it appropriate to haggle for vintage? My rule tends to be that you can haggle if you are at anything that resembles a market-like setting. You should be able to tell if it feels appropriate to do so and if it does, go for it! Name the price you would like to pay and see what happens, after all what have you got to lose? They might say no and if that happens don’t worry about it. If they say no, it is all about knowing how much you want an item and being realistic about how much you will wear it – if the answer is all the time then go for it, if not you can just walk away. It’s all in a day’s work.
Top Tip: Charity shops are a gold-mine for vintage clothing & normally sell it at great prices too.
Grab it whilst you can
We have talked already about carefully considering your purchases before you make them, but I wonder if by saying this I may be misleading you. By encouraging you to buy mindfully, I don’t mean taking a few days to mull over whether those pink dungarees will go with your favourite orange trainers, there is a much quicker process that needs to go on. Why you might say? Well, it is more than likely there is only one of the item of clothing, so it is important that you don’t let that baby out of your sight or you might lose it.
So, how do you keep hold or your treasures whilst you are still undecided over their fate? Well, do quite literally that – hold onto them. One of my favourite way to shop is to pick up the item and carry it around with me whilst I browse the rest of the shop. This way I can feel how the fabric moves in my hands, see the colour of it out of the corner of my eye, and generally just mull over whether I need it or not. It means you don’t have to stand there like a lemon deliberating and can get on with your shopping whilst still being mindful. Also, by picking it up (even if it is just to put it back eventually) you claim that garment as your own, meaning no-one else can steal it under your nose – something you definitely have to watch for in busy vintage spots.
You get time to deliberate and avoid disappointment at missing out on, what you may come to realise during your deliberating, is the ultimate vintage find.
As you can probably tell, I adore vintage shopping. I love going into a shop or market and not knowing what I am going to find. I love the thrill of finding amazing individual items to help me express myself and I love a good haggle. For me vintage shopping is as much about the experience as the end result and the main thing is to have fun! Why not get some friends together and find your local vintage centre, shop or fair? You may be surprised by what you find!
Do you like shopping for vintage clothing?
Love Holly x