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A Guide to Vintage Shopping: Tips and Do’s and Don’ts Every Fashionista Must Know


“I buy what makes my heart sing. So, it is not that I follow one specific track. It is sort of what I like. I love colors. I love unique pieces. I love vintage clothing.” –Tracee Ellis Ross


There is quite no fashion phenomenon like wearing vintage clothes.

They do not only take you to a different era in fashion; they give you a unique insight into how fashion has evolved over the years. Although some vintage fashion pieces have been given that much needed modern updated, albeit a bit cyclical, it does not have that original charm which a vintage fashion piece carries with it. Apart from the unique and authentic charm a vintage piece has, no other fashion piece gives you so much leverage in customizing and redesigning such as a vintage piece does (just imagine all the designing possibilities you could do to overhaul that tulle skirt you found at the flea market!)

Truly, there is quite like nothing like wearing vintage, but it is the shopping process itself where the real adventure lies. Combing and scouring the racks of your favorite flea shops, thrift stores for various wholesale clothing, retail, and big brand buys only to find and come across the most fabulous dress or the ideal pants in your size is nothing short of liberating—even cathartic! However, shopping for vintage pieces are not always so straightforward, and the logistics of choosing that perfect piece would require some effort on your part as well. However, fret not, here are some of the best tips and do’s and don’ts to aid you in your vintage fashion travails and to assist you in making an informed and sound decision—regardless of whether you are browsing or buying vintage clothes online or in person.

1.) Commence your search at home


It has often been said that charity begins at home, but likewise, so could your preliminary search for vintage fashion. Ask the members of your family if they have any remnants of their dated clothes from the year 1920 to the early 1990’s. Do not leave anyone of your family out; you would never know what kind of priceless treasure hunt they have been hiding all these years at their home. Your mother might still have that iconic bag from the seventies; your grandmother could loan you her old jacket and accessories. Asking around will save you the trouble of having to browse for more vintage fashion finds online.

2.) Do a comparison shop for the best


You may have found the perfect fashion piece, but that does not mean it is precisely in the best condition. Some pieces have buttons and attachments that are ready to fall off, and if you do not do a thorough scrutiny, you may miss noticing these tiny but critical elements. Although, missing buttons are forgivable as they are easily repaired, the same cannot be said for the condition of some of the apparel you might find. As this is the case, it is imperative that you compare fashion items both online and in person. There are some websites that do offer you the feature of comparing conditions on items. A caveat, however, some of these items may be a bit pricier than the rest considering they showed significantly less wear and tear, color fading and worn out interiors and corners.

3.) Rummage, do not just flick through items


A simple flicking through clothes is how a novice fashionista would go about her vintage fashion hunt. You can readily tell who is a seasoned vintage shopper from one who is still trying out the reins by how enthusiastically they would delve into the fashion items. There are items which would require quite the rummaging in order for you to find them. This is why in some countries; fashion vintage hunts are often called rummage sales—because indeed, you would need to do just that to find a unique buy. Next time you find yourself in a vintage fashion shop, remember to get ready to rummage– you might be surprised to find branded fashion items hidden underneath the pile of cloths.

4.) Do try them on


If you are shopping traditionally, it is imperative that you try on the clothes you have chosen. Body shapes and sizes have changed over the years and just like how you would try on a pair of jeans before buying them, so should you for vintage finds. If you are shopping online, it is important you get your measurements as accurately as possible and see if they closely match those potential vintage fashion purchases you are about to get online. Altering the clothes you have may be a good option (albeit, a last one) for when you have purchased vintage clothes, not in your size. But remember, altering the clothes may damage the integrity of the design. It is better to purchase them as they are and intact and in your size.

5.) Get a whiff of your purchases’ scents


Do not be embarrassed to indulge your olfactory sense by sniffing out your potential purchases. This is how you find out how truly vintage your potential buys are and if it is a smell you can get rid of through ordinary wash. Anyone who has done some major vintage shopping would tell you that there is nothing worse than having a pong you cannot get rid of. Most of these pieces would lose that smell when they are dry cleaned by an expert. Still, it is probably a good idea to avoid potential purchases that do stink and one with brown mold marks as they can be near impossible to remove.

6.) Buy what you can see yourself wearing


Do not simply buy a vintage fashion item just because the piece is novel, on trend or rare unless you are collecting them. Always buy items you could actually see yourself wearing and choose vintage clothes that are strong enough to be worn regularly. Additionally, it is a smart idea to avoid fragile pieces or pieces that look like they belong to the museum as constant wear would soon damage them. A wise tip is to wear these vintage clothes with a washable extra layer such as a slip underneath to protect the vintage investment.


There are many reasons for buying vintage fashion pieces, but regardless of whether you are buying to collect or buying to wear, always keep in mind the six tips offered above as it will make your vintage shopping endeavors more of a breeze.


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