16. Tips for Shopping Vintage Clothing

If you’re someone who loves unique and one-of-a-kind pieces in your wardrobe, then vintage fashion is definitely something you should consider exploring. Not only does it add character to your style, but it also allows for sustainable and ethical fashion choices. Thrift shopping, or purchasing secondhand items, has become increasingly popular in recent years, with more people turning to vintage clothing as a way to express their individuality and reduce their carbon footprint.

However, shopping for vintage clothing can be overwhelming and intimidating for beginners. With so many different eras, styles, and stores to choose from, it’s easy to feel lost and unsure of where to start. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide with tips and advice on how to shop for vintage clothing like a pro. From understanding the benefits of vintage fashion to learning how to care for these unique pieces, we’ve got you covered.

Benefits of Shopping Vintage Clothing

Before diving into the tips and tricks of shopping for vintage clothing, it’s important to understand the many benefits that come with choosing this route for your fashion choices.

Unique Style and Quality Pieces

One of the main draws of vintage fashion is the opportunity to own truly unique pieces. Unlike mass-produced clothing found in most retail stores, vintage items are often one-of-a-kind or limited edition, making them stand out in a sea of similar outfits. They also tend to be better quality, with attention to detail and craftsmanship that is hard to find in today’s fast fashion market.

Sustainable and Ethical Fashion

With the rise of fast fashion, the fashion industry has become one of the biggest contributors to pollution and waste. By shopping for vintage clothing, you are helping to reduce the demand for new clothing production, which in turn decreases the negative impact on the environment. Additionally, buying secondhand items supports the circular economy, where resources are reused rather than discarded.

Where to Find Vintage Clothing

16 Tips for Shopping Vintage Clothing

Now that you know the benefits of vintage fashion, the next step is figuring out where to find these unique pieces. Here are some popular options:

Thrift Stores and Vintage Shops

Thrift stores and vintage shops are the most obvious places to start your search for vintage clothing. These stores often have a wide variety of items from different eras, with prices ranging from affordable to high-end depending on the store. Do your research beforehand and check out reviews or ask for recommendations to find the best vintage shops in your area.

Online Marketplaces

In recent years, online marketplaces such as Etsy, Depop, and Poshmark have become go-to destinations for vintage fashion lovers. These platforms offer a vast selection of vintage clothing from independent sellers around the world, making it easier to find unique pieces that may not be available in your local area. Just be sure to check the seller’s ratings and reviews before making a purchase to ensure a positive experience.

Estate Sales and Flea Markets

Estate sales and flea markets can be a treasure trove for vintage finds. These events often have a mix of old and new items, so be prepared to do some digging. You never know what hidden gems you might come across at these types of sales, often at more affordable prices than thrift stores or online shops.

Tips for Choosing Quality Vintage Pieces

16 Tips for Shopping Vintage Clothing

Once you’ve found a potential vintage piece, it’s important to assess its quality before making a purchase. Here are some tips to help you choose quality vintage pieces:

Check for Signs of Wear and Tear

It’s normal for vintage clothing to have some wear and tear, but excessive damage can be a red flag. Look for holes, stains, and tears when examining a piece. Minor damages can be fixed with simple alterations, but major damages may not be worth the investment.

Inspect the Fabric and Construction

Vintage clothing is often made with different fabrics and construction techniques than modern clothing. Be sure to inspect the fabric for any signs of damage or fading, and check the seams and stitches to ensure they are secure. High-quality vintage pieces will often have sturdy construction that stands the test of time.

Look for Quality Labels and Brand Names

Certain labels and brands are known for their high-quality vintage pieces. Do some research and familiarize yourself with these names, so you know what to look for when shopping. A quality label or brand can also add value to a vintage piece, making it a more desirable find.

How to Care for Vintage Clothing

Now that you’ve found your perfect vintage piece, it’s important to take care of it properly to ensure it lasts for years to come. Here are some tips on how to care for vintage clothing:

Follow Care Instructions

Vintage pieces may require special care, so be sure to follow any care instructions provided by the seller or label. If no instructions are available, research the type of fabric and proper cleaning methods before washing.

Hand Wash or Dry Clean

When in doubt, it’s best to hand wash or dry clean vintage clothing. This ensures gentle handling and minimizes damage to delicate fabrics. Avoid using harsh detergents or bleach, and always air dry or use the lowest heat setting when using a dryer.

Store Properly

To keep your vintage pieces in top shape, it’s important to store them properly. Avoid placing heavy items on top of delicate fabrics, and use acid-free tissue paper when folding and storing garments to prevent yellowing of the fabric.

Styling Tips for Vintage Outfits

Styling vintage outfits can be intimidating, especially if you’re used to modern fashion trends. Here are some tips to help you create stylish and unique looks with vintage pieces:

Mix and Match Eras

Don’t be afraid to mix and match vintage pieces from different eras. This allows for a more cohesive and modern look while still incorporating the unique style of each era.

Accessorize with Modern Pieces

Pairing vintage clothing with modern accessories can help balance out an outfit and add a touch of your own personal style. Don’t be afraid to mix old and new for a truly unique look.

Keep it Simple

When wearing a statement vintage piece, keep the rest of your outfit simple. This allows the vintage piece to stand out and be the focal point of your look.

Shopping Vintage Online vs. In-Store

Both online and in-store shopping have their pros and cons when it comes to finding vintage clothing. Here are some factors to consider:

Online Shopping

Online shopping offers a wider selection of vintage items from around the world, making it easier to find unique pieces. However, you won’t be able to physically examine the item before purchasing, and there is a risk of items not fitting properly or not looking as expected in person.

In-Store Shopping

In-store shopping allows you to physically try on and examine items before making a purchase. You also have the opportunity to ask for advice from store employees who may have extensive knowledge of vintage clothing. However, in-store options may be limited depending on location, and prices may be higher than online.

Expert Advice on Vintage Shopping

We spoke to vintage fashion experts to get their top tips and advice for shopping for vintage clothing. Here’s what they had to say:

Mix Vintage with Modern

According to vintage fashion blogger, Lizzie Bramlett, it’s important to mix vintage pieces with modern clothing to create a current and stylish look. She recommends investing in staple vintage pieces and pairing them with modern items for a unique and personalized outfit.

Know Your Measurements

Vintage clothing often doesn’t come in standard sizes, so it’s important to know your measurements when shopping for these pieces. Vintage fashion expert, Doris Raymond, suggests measuring your bust, waist, and hips and comparing them to the measurements provided by the seller to ensure a proper fit.

Don’t Be Afraid to Alter

Vintage fashion expert, Sam Morrison, advises not being afraid to alter vintage pieces to make them more wearable. Whether it’s shortening a dress or taking in a jacket, small alterations can make a big difference in how a piece fits and looks on your body.


Shopping for vintage clothing can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it’s important to do your research and follow these tips to ensure you’re making quality purchases. By understanding the benefits of vintage fashion, knowing where to find these unique pieces, and following proper care and styling techniques, you can build a wardrobe that is both stylish and sustainable. So next time you’re out shopping, don’t forget to check out the vintage section for some hidden gems!

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