Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Some Unwanted Advice for Your Wednesday

Some Unwanted Advice for Your Wednesday
Image courtesy of Vogue and Coffee

How to Shop for Vintage Clothes

The other day a girl complimented my skirt, and when I said I got it for $4 she was shocked. It's one of those mid-length pleated skirts that's super trendy right now and she paid $60 for a similiar one at Zara. I hate to to toot my own horn (also, I tooted your mom's horn last night), but as I started to think about my outfit, I realized a lot of it was great, cheap and secondhand. So, here are a few tips as well as some pictures of my favorite thrift store finds because it's my blog and I'll brag if I want to.

1. Know where to go.
Find the rich neighborhoods and hit up their Goodwills and consignment stores. I find most stores that advertise as 'vintage' are overpriced, but that's not a hard and fast rule. Buffalo Exchange, for example, is fantastic.

2. Know when to go.
Find out when they usually put new stuff out. Go then. Ask about sales. Goodwill has 50% one color tag each week.

3. Put your fast browsing shoes on.
I tend to get burnt out after an hour  45 minutes half an hour of browsing, so I've learned to look quickly for colors, patterns and materials that I like. For example, I shop for sweaters by just running my hand over and only stopping when it feels great and is a color I like. Same for coats.
Time saving tip: if something is cheap, cute, and you're 80% sure it will fit, there are ways to double check. For example, if you wrap the waistband of pants or a skirt around your neck and it reaches all the way around, it will fit around your waist. 

4. Have an idea of what you're looking for and be ready to forget it.
If you go into a Goodwill store looking for the perfect, A-line, black wool skirt, you'll be disappointed. But if you go in looking for a mid-length pleated skirt, you might have some luck. I have my routine down pat: first I hit up shoes, then purses, coats and then I browse for whatever I went in for.
Christian Dior Skirt
5) Look for things you like, not things in your size.
I'm a size 10 shoe and when I'm looking through secondhand or vintage shoes, I tend to get excited by anything in my size. But that can lead to purchases I regret later. So look for things you love, and then see if they're in your size. Chances are, they won't be. But they also won't be something that will sit in your closet and collect dust.
DVF shoes
After Schprocket, I'd grab these in a fire.

6) Don't be swayed by designer labels.
It is totally awesome to walk away from a store with a couture label for crazy cheap, but it's not worth it if it's something that doesn't fit and flatter. I have a Christian Dior blazer that has sat in my closet for months because I can't figure out how to wear it. Make sure you love something before you look at the label. 
My dad got me this scarf for 50 cents. Clearly, shopping prowess is in my genes.

7) Think of the possibility.
If you find something that is cute, cheap and perfect except for the buttons or the length of the sleeves, think about having it altered. I have a Burberry jacket that was $12, and I spent $50 having it taken in. I still came out with a good deal.
This is a different jacket. The belt is also vintage

8) Double Check.
Before you buy, especially if you have to have it altered, look over it. I'm an advocate of doing this for all purchases, new or used.  Check for stains, missing buttons, tears, etc. If there's a flaw, you might be able to get it for a discount.

9) Don't get anything cheap, even if it's really cheap.
I know I said that labels don't matter, but it just seems silly to buy something from Target used. If you see something that came from somewhere like Target, Walmart, Old Navy or Payless, chances are it will fall apart after one wear. Look for good quality fabric and skilled construction.
This is a great, wool sweater from the 80s

10) For hats, go to eBay.
You can get some great deals on some seriously vintage and amazing hats.


  1. Thanks for the tips, I'm still new to vintage and secondhand shopping so this is great advice!

  2. Oh good! I never know about these advice posts.