Shopping Vintage Clothing: Overwhelmed? 3 Things To Ask Yourself

Things Aren't Always What They Seem - Vintage Dickey Under Jacket


With the recent resurgence in popularity of vintage clothing, lots of people are heading to their local thrift stores, resale shops, estate sales, and online to find the coolest items to add to their wardrobes. If you’re one of those people who has jumped on the groovy VW bus bandwagon of vintage, here are some questions to ask when you shop:

1. Is it really vintage? One of the best things you can do as a vintage buyer is to educate yourself. Vintage clothing is 20-25 years old or older (not exceeding 100 years, in which case it becomes antique.) The strict rule is 25 years or older, but sites like have adopted the 20 year rule. Still, it can be tricky to tell the difference between late eighties and early nineties, or fourties fashion versus seventies fashion due to the “trend cycles” of the decades. (This can even be difficult for experienced sellers sometimes!) So, do a little research on your favorite kinds of vintage. If you like the bohemian look, research the sixties and seventies styles, fabrics, and designers a little. If you like the 80’s rocker look, do the same. After a little education, you’ll be able to take clues like the tags, the fabric content, and the manufacturer, and make a wise decision.

2. Is it worth the investment? Sometimes the value of a vintage piece is what you’re willing to pay for it, and not actually what the item is worth. If you find something, say, a fabulous sparkly sequined top from the 70’s, that you can’t live without, you might pay more for it. That’s fine! Just be sure that you understand the worth of what you’re buying. Unfortunately, some vintage sellers take advantage of the trend (or make an honest mistake) and inflate prices on items that aren’t really worth that much. So, if an item seems expensive ask yourself, “Is it in excellent condition? Does it still have the tags? Is it a designer piece that would have cost more in its original decade? Is there something special about the design, color, or fabric? Is it a highly collectible or sought after piece?” This might take a little googling (checking out the designer and popularity), but it’s worth it to spend your money wisely!

3. Will I wear it?  Yeah, it seems simple enough. Really, though, that seventies pantsuit might look outta sight on the hanger, but will you actually wear it? Try it on just like any other piece of clothing if you can, and ask yourself if it coordinates with other things in your closet. Is it a classic piece that can withstand the trends? Do you care? If you don’t love it, leave it. It’s no fun if it just hangs in your closet.

Obviously, the more vintage you shop for, the easier it will get. Even if you find out you’ve made a mistake later, at least you will have bought a piece that you really love to wear.

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2 responses to “Shopping Vintage Clothing: Overwhelmed? 3 Things To Ask Yourself

  1. Great post! I not very good at shopping for vintage, but these tips will sure help. My daughter loves vintage pieces. Thanks.

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