Crowded racks full of lost fashion treasures can be fun for most, and overwhelming for some, but buying vintage has many pros! It’s budget-friendly, it’s good for the Earth (you’re recycling!), and you can find unique clothes to can call your very own!
If you’re wondering where do you start, check out my guide to achieving thrift store success!
Location! Location! Location!
Large cities are usually fashion goldmines, but if you’re a small town girl, don’t fret! Small thrift stores and antique stores are stocked full of great finds, plus, there’s less chance that someone will snatch up an item you love.
It’s also great to be familiar with sale and stocking days. Some stores have days that are 75% off everything, and if you’re there on stocking days, you’ll be the first to scope out new items!
Wear and Tear
Finding a beautiful one-of-a-kind dress for a deal can be exciting until you come home and take a closer look. Moth holes, stains, and sometimes even mold, can plague your newly acquired clothes.
While at the store, examine the garment from all angles, even turn it inside out. Check elbows, knees, backsides, cuffs, collars, hems, and armpits for excessive wear as they are the parts of clothing that endure the most stress. Holes at the seam can be mended, but other holes can be unfixable.
Moths prefer darker clothing so double check dark colored items. And be sure to get the item dry cleaned and washed in hot water to prevent further damage.
If you spot a stain on your clothing, you might be able to get it out if it’s recent. Stains that have been set in for a long time are nearly impossible to remove, so be sure to use your good judgment. Is the stain somewhere noticeable? If not, then you may want to snatch that item up before it’s gone!
What’s My Size?!
Buying an item that was made before the 1980s can have tricky sizing. A general rule of thumb is to double your current size, so if you’re a 6 in today’s sizing, you would be a size 12 in vintage sizing. But generally, sizing of the past does not correlate with today.
If you know your bust, waist, and hip measurements, you can always bring a measuring tape to measure the clothes, but the best thing you can do is try the item on. If an item is oversized, it can always be taken in, and if you’re not a master seamstress, make friends with your local tailor!
Storing Your Precious New Finds
For vintage items, you want to do your best to preserve its beauty. To do this, always keep these items in a dark and cool place. Most cotton items can be hung and wrapped in muslin. For very special items, wrap them in white acid-free tissue and muslin and put them in well-ventilated boxes. Be sure to include moth balls!
When I was living in NYC, I happened upon an exhibit featuring an eccentric fashion icon named Iris Apfel. The exhibit was called Rare Bird, a title that only begins to describe the collection of clothes that were on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
I became enamored with Iris — along with half of New York City, I presume — and was recently thinking back on the experience with awe. Then the other day, I found this GREAT video of Iris being interviewed and filmed while shopping.
My favorite thing about Iris Apfel is that she views fashion with so much energy and shows no fear in doing what she wants with it!