How To Shop For Vintage Clothing?

If you’re interested in buying vintage clothing but don’t know where to start, this article might help you with tips and tricks for a guided shopping method for second-hand clothing. It is not easy nowadays to find good vintage clothing at first glance. The selection is very large - from different sizes to different styles, the shops are overloaded with clothes. You don’t only need patience but also a knowledge base about vintage. But first, there are a few things to look out for, for a better and easier shopping experience. 

Vintage Fashion has become very popular, and it’s inspiring more people to buy second-hand clothing – whether it’s because of its sustainability or the possibility to describe one’s style best. 

There’s a big difference between each second-hand store. Some offer a bundle of clothes for kilo prices; some have more modern or vintage clothes. Few of them might even be pricier than others, but where is the difference? 

We want to look at our thrift stores in the first second-hand store category. At thrift stores, you can find cheaper clothes. There is a possibility to find true vintage stuff, but you need to dig deep to find clothes that fit your liking and have the right sizing. That means you need to consider the expenditure of time. 

Flea markets are also an option for a cheap way to buy vintage or second-hand clothing. It is usually outdoors, and besides clothing, you’ll also find vintage furniture or accessories – it’s all in one!

If you’re looking for true vintage stores and don’t want to spend too much time searching, vintage boutiques are the better alternative for you. These kinds of stores go for quality over mass. But you also need to consider that the prices are more expensive since there are rare and high-quality products. The popular vintage items you see on social media can often be found there, so if you have looked for outfit inspiration before and know precisely what you want, it is good to go to vintage boutiques first. 

Boutiques are also good places to shop if you want to minimize the amount of clothing in your wardrobe. But you must be sure that you will wear the clothes you bought. Otherwise, it is kind of a waste. A little tip from my side is to buy for a whole outfit and not only for individual parts, so you already know which top fits best with your favorite pair of jeans. 

Vintage clothing is also sold in Online Shops! Look out for the best vintage clothing websites to your liking and enjoy shopping from home. Next to individual online shops, there are also several platforms where private sellers sell modern and vintage second-hand clothes. There’s no specific price range because each seller decides how much the product should cost. 

However, you can set the price range from the minimum to the maximum as a filter effect. 

What to Consider Before Buying Vintage Clothing?

Before going on a vintage hunt, it is essential to consider a few steps. It is often the case that you’ll get overwhelmed by the number of clothes in front of you. Or you might even go on a trip and buy more clothes than you need. To prevent such habits, it is good to be conscious before and while shopping:

  1. Look out for clothes you want and need.  First, it is essential to know what kind of vintage clothing you’re looking for. There are many different options and stores. It is often very overwhelming at first glance when you’re entering a second-hand shop. When you once know what kind of clothes you want and need, it will make the search better and less stressful. If you’re not quite sure what you want, look out for vintage outfit ideas first that seem appealing to you. It is essential to wear clothes you feel comfortable with, considering only clothing you would wear. 
  2. Be conscious of what you already have. When it comes to shopping, we catch ourselves buying things we already have. It’s unsatisfactory for our wallets and leave us with an overloaded wardrobe. It is best to sort out the clothes you already have and look out for what is still missing. Having a plan is an excellent way to shop mindfully. 
  3. Be sure of what kind of second-hand clothing you want. It is one thing to buy modern second-hand clothes and another to purchase vintage clothing. The difference lies in the prizing range and the quality of the products. Vintage clothes are at least one decade old, and they also seem to be very expensive for second-hand clothing. The high price range is the quality of the product and the rareness. The quality of clothing has changed rapidly over the last decade. For instance, Jeans and T-Shirts used to be 100% Cotton, while today they get mixed with loads of other cheap fabrics. There is often a thin line between modern and vintage clothes since it is hard to differentiate both at first glance. 

The vintage clothing labels are good to look out for, as they are the easiest way to recognize authentic vintage clothing. The labels have mostly thick fabric, and usually, they’re made in the USA or Mexico, while newer clothes are made in China, Nicaragua, or the Philippines. 

If you would rather buy clothes more cheaply, modern second-hand clothing is better. You still can find cheap vintage clothing in thrift stores, but as I mentioned before, you must consider that you’ll have to dig a bit deeper since they’re often overloaded with clothes. 

  1. Be prepared that the sizing is not always right. Labels having one sizing but another fitting happens quite more often than we think, especially with vintage clothes. It is that clothes have been washed multiple times or even differently. So, it is best to try the products on before buying. If you’re online shopping, consider the description “our size” if it’s given. 
  2. Be also prepared for stains or holes. Vintage clothing is old and often worn, so it may have stains or holes, which is not as dramatic as it sounds. If you’re in-store and spot a blemish, please ask an employee for a discount since it might cost you about 5€ to get the hole sewed. If you’ve bought something online, you can ask them via E-Mail. Either way, the problem can be solved, and it is the most natural thing. It is very rare to find true vintage clothing without any blemishes. 

Now that we’ve discussed what needs to be considered before buying vintage, it is time to discover a new shopping experience! Without all the stressors, it is cool spotting vintage clothes in different stores, and it is one of a kind. If you don’t know what vintage or second-hand clothing you’re looking for, be open to new things - go to different stores without any intention and look at which caught your attention most. I wish you a lot of fun for your next vintage shopping tour!




Meet The Author

Dan Shewan

Originally from the U.K., Dan Shewan is a journalist and web content specialist who now lives and writes in New England. Dan’s work has appeared in a wide range of publications in print and online, including The Guardian, The Daily Beast, Pacific Standard magazine, The Independent, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and many other outlets.

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