Now, it would be nigh on impossible to put together a complete guide on how to shop for vintage clothing without dedicating hundreds and hundreds of pages to it. On this page, however, we are going to cover the basics. This is the main stuff that you really need to know before you go on the prowl for something new to wear.
Know your era
In most people’s eyes, anything made over thirty years ago could be classed as vintage. This means, at the time of writing, anything made in the 1970s and before. However, the further you go back, particularly after the 1920s, you are going to find it remarkably difficult to obtain something which is of a high quality. That being said, clothing that was made before the 1960s was not generally mass-produced and thus has a decent amount of quality and uniqueness to it. It is, therefore, wise to have a look at what is on offer before you make the purchase if you are getting something after the 1960s. After all, you need to know that what you are purchasing is actually worth wearing.
You may also wish to think a little bit about the styles that were popular in each of the decades. One of the wonderful things about vintage clothing is that decades tend to be very different. You would easily be able to separate 1960s fashion from 1970s fashion for instance. Now, we are not going to go into depth with regards to the type of style that was popular in each of these decades. There is plenty of information out there already. However, you really should do your research to know what you really want to wear. Read more about fashion decades
Check the quality
Vintage clothing quality tends to be rather diverse. Some clothing was well-looked after. Others, not quite so much. When you are purchasing vintage clothing, you really want to know how to inspect the clothing for quality. After all, you need to know that you are going to get something that is fairly wearable. We do have other guides on this website about this, but, generally, you want to be on the lookout for the following:
- That the material is not too fragile. This will ensure that it will not just lose its quality over the years.
- That there are no unpleasant odours. Some of these can be pretty tough to remove, particular pet urine.
- That there are no stains. You could, in some cases, remove them. However, we suggest that when you purchase vintage clothing you always go in with the idea that the stains can’t be removed. So, if there is a stain, you may want to think about whether it can be covered up or not.
- If there any embellishments missing. A few missing may be fine, but not a whole load of them. This will completely ruin the look of your vintage clothing.
Try on the clothing
This is vital. This is vintage clothing. Unless you get lucky, it is likely that you will only be able to find it in one size. Don’t just rely on the size that you are now to make your purchase either. You need to try it on. Sizes have changed over the years. A large now may not necessarily have been a large in the 1940s. Never purchase vintage clothing in a store unless you can try it on. In most cases, you will not be able to return it. Many online retailers will try and give you a ‘modern sizing’ but this still may not be 100% accurate so it is a case of ‘buyer beware’.
Remember, you can probably make a few small alterations to your vintage clothing, but do not expect anything drastic here. If you do not feel comfortable when you first try it on, it is unlikely that you will be able to do too much with it.
Decide on your budget
Vintage clothing varies in cost, drastically. Some styles may be expensive. Some stores may be more expensive. Know how much you are going to spend in advance and stick to that budget. Do not change your budget at all. The last thing you want to do is find out that you have no money left and that you only have a small amount of vintage clothing in your collection!
Choose where to shop
If you wish for the biggest selection of vintage clothing, you should always aim to shop in dedicated vintage clothing stores. You can find these both on the high street and online. One of the main benefits, other than the selection, is that these guys tend to know the world of vintage clothing inside out and they will be more than happy to give you a bit of advice. The prices may not be the cheapest, but you do tend to end up with a better item of clothing.
You can always head to auction sites such as eBay. However, browsing these sites is very much a case of ‘buyer beware’. You never know what is going to turn up at your door!
Wear your vintage clothing with style
There are a number of ways in which you can put together your vintage outfit. Many people who are really into their vintage clothing will not actually just wear vintage clothing. They will instead mix up their items with something a touch more contemporary. You can craft some pretty decent looks this way. It also ensures that you do not need to have a whole closet full of vintage clothing, which can, of course, get very expensive. All you need is some nice modern and vintage clothing and you should have a huge range of outfits to choose from! Find out more about how to wear vintage clothing