Vintage Fashion Advice: How to shop for great secondhand fashion

Vintage Fashion Advice: How to shop for great secondhand fashion

It’s happened to every thrifty fashion fiend; you spot a fantastic (and fantastically discounted) vintage gem and it must be yours!  However, after you hand over the cash and take home your new treasure…it turns out to be a dud.  Avoid this sad fate with a few helpful thrifting and secondhand shopping tips.

1)      Run a quick seam check. 

A simple scan can quickly fill you in on the overall quality of the item.  Although a snag or hole here and there may be simple enough to fix, consider the time and effort you’re willing to put into the piece for the price.  While you’re at it, check for stains, discolorations and any other imperfections.

2)      Zip it up, zip it down.

Actually getting in out and of any item is kind of crucial.  If trying the piece on isn’t an option at least do a test run on the zipper.  If it jams or sticks on the hanger, chances are it’ll do the same thing on your bod…which could make for some interesting half-naked contortion acts.  If you’re still in love, inquire about replacing the zipper with a local tailor or seamstress.

3)      The Sniff Test

It sounds odd, but definitely give that to die for 1950’s prom dress or 1970’s era disco sheath a good whiff before handing over the cash.  If it stinks in the store just imagine what it’ll do to your closet.  Also, consider exactly how much you’d be willing to fork over in dry cleaning costs.

4)      Get a feel for the fabric

Really, get in there and put it against your bare skin.  Some vintage fabrics are surprisingly rough, scratchy or cumbersome on the body, so if at all possible try it on and move around before purchasing.  If it rubs you raw or leaves you itching incessantly, you’re not going to wear it.  However, the right undergarment can do wonders.

5)      Remember to dress for your body

Just because it’s vintage and stunning and a crazy good deal doesn’t mean it’s going to hug your hips perfectly or show off your delicious décolletage.  It’s easy to get sucked in by a great price or a coveted label, but it if it hides all your best assets it’s not a wise investment.

6)       The Mental Wardrobe Check

If you can’t think of at least three ways to wear those killer 1960’s platform go-go boots, put them back.  Vintage pieces can easily look costume-like, and if you can’t seamlessly work them into your existing style, chances are they’ll take up permanent residence in the back of your closet.  If you’re going to make the investment, make sure your new favorite will get plenty of action.


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