Friday, January 11, 2013

A Beginner's Guide to Buying Vintage: First 4 Steps

I scrapped my belated Holiday posts and New Years greetings in loo of a more productive type post. So since it's the new year and I'm in full self-improvement mode I've been cleaning and been surrounded by piles and piles of vintage.
Therefore, I decided to put together a list for those of you who like me, love vintage but I want to save you from the purchases I've made that I wish I didn't.

Or, incase some of you have turned over a new vintage leaf a few simple things to remember in your exciting travels into the wonderful world of vintage!

So here they are, my: first 4 steps to consider when buying vintage.

First and Foremost my #1 rule: Utilize your modern technology
We may be old-fashioned gals, but much like the ladies who came before us we should be smart and savvy. And that means not being taken for a fool and not wasting time or money that you cannot afford to lose. So taking advantage of smartphones, ipads, laptops and tablets is imperative.
- use google to research the tags on clothing items, check prices for similar purchases and make sure you're not going to be feeling buyers remorse when "vintage" and "used" are two words that do not go synonymous with "easy to return."

2) Do your research. Know what you're looking for and where you might be able to find it
Sometimes the greatest finds when it comes to vintage are unexpected surprises that you didn't even know you were looking for, so in that case this doesn't exactly apply. However, when I say know what you are looking for I mean use and abuse etsy and ebay. If you know you want an embroidered 1950's circle skirt be familiar with the prices they seem to be listed at, what sizes are easiest to come by and what can fit most easily into your wardrobe. Not every vintage or thrift store is a good deal, sometimes they can be nothing further from light on the pocket and knowing what is a good find and what you're willing to spend a bit more on can help you in the long run.

3) Carry your own little vintage tool kit
During the search for my perfect vintage dream wardrobe I've found having a small bag with a few essentials can be almost as good as having another two hands to help you dig!
In my bag I like to keep the following:
A Measuring Tape - Never rely on tag size alone, vintage size and shape vary so much from brand-to-brand and decade-to-decade so especially if you can't try it on go to your measuring tape. and ALWAYS know your own measurements
A Tube of Simichrome Polish - to test for bakelite. Depends on if the store will allow it, but when you just aren't sure if it's worth the gamble having the option to test it and check can be the one thing to save you from hours of regret. (Don't forget to throw in a few q-tips!)
Saftey Pins - Incase of a bad zipper, lost button or small defect while trying on the garment or securing a damaged piece to the rest of the item safety pins are always a lifesaver.
Hand Sanitizer and Hand Cream - Now this is a personal one that you can take or leave, but I've found after handling old and sometimes dusty things with a bathroom no-place in sight - these two are a real must!

4) Learn the difference between thrift, second hand stores and antique malls or vintage boutiques
Now this is where my next entry will pick up and get a little more in-depth on but it is quite possibly the most helpful of these tips is to know what you can expect to find and for what depending on the location.
Just Keep in Mind the Following:
Thrift & Second Hand have no specialization of era or quality.
Antique Malls & Boutiques have items specially collected just to be sold there, but at a much higher price.

Until we meet again...


  1. this has been so helpful. a great refresher so I can improve and hopefully stop making those typical mistakes :D

  2. Wonderful tips! Carrying a measuring tape is something I nearly always do, and highly recommend to others as well. Not only has it proved helpful many times on the clothing front, but I can't even begin to count how often I've used in in other settings (hardware stores, furniture stores, checking peoples' height, measuring car tire width, etc) as well.

    ♥ Jessica