18 Vintage Shopping Tips and Tricks To Fit Any Budget

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Are you bored by today's styles? If you want some unique pieces you won't find in mainstream stores like Target or H&M, consider exploring the world of vintage shopping. Not sure where to start? We've got you covered with some tried and trusted vintage shopping tips that will help you make the most from fashions of the past.

What Is Considered Vintage?

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Vintage clothing refers to garments produced before the 2000s. For example, dated leather jackets, neon outfits of the '80s, acid-wash denim, printed blazers of the '90s, and many coveted styles from the '60s and '70s all fall under this umbrella of fashion. 

Tips and Tricks for Vintage Shopping

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While vintage shopping sounds like it could be more affordable, it is not often the case. Vintage shopping can come with a hefty price tag, as the condition, age, rarity, and designer brand are all considered.

Here are some expert tips and tricks to enhance your vintage shopping experience and make it a breeze.

1. Start With Accessories

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Vintage shopping can be overwhelming, but shopping in the accessories section is a great way to start. Dated rings, bangles, and necklaces can make any outfit pop and create a distinctive look.

2. Shop in a Variety of Places

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You can often find some quality vintage gems in more affluent areas. With that said, don't limit your search to there alone. Explore towns and cities for charity shops, car boot sales, and flea markets. You can also search online marketplaces such as Depop and eBay. 

3. Be Careful With Sizing

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When buying vintage clothing online, you won't be able to try it on beforehand. Knowing it's a U.S. size eight or a medium might not be enough information for you to choose the outfit that fits the best. They may have shrunk over time, and vintage sizing may differ.

4. Find Out Your Exact Measurements

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Instead, find out your measurements in inches and compare them to the seller's measurements for the item. This will give you a much better idea of what to expect.

5. Take a Photo of the Measurements

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You can even ask the seller to place the measuring tape flat down on the item of clothing and take a photo to see for yourself. They might have missed an extra inch in the curvature of the waist. This will help determine if they have measured all correctly. 

6. Consider Alterations

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Even if the material has minor damage, such as loose fibers and threads, it is nothing a great tailor cannot fix. They will give it some love and make it look brand new.

7. Patience Is a Virtue

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It might be hard to find what you are looking for in a vintage shop, so don't expect to find glamorous outfits every time you go. It might take some time before you discover the right pieces for you. 

8. Be Open-Minded

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The trick in vintage shopping is to go with an open mind and try on various pieces you wouldn't usually. Be inspired by new garments that you haven't seen before. You might be surprised by what you find!

9. Check the Condition of the Item

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Of course, while there are many high-quality pieces, vintage clothes endure the usual wear and tear. You may be able to fix some of the small stuff, like a missing button or zipper. However, some items are beyond repair and not worth the trouble. Big yellow stains and moth holes are a no-no.

10. Negotiate Prices

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When shopping online, you can sometimes negotiate the prices of the item. Some online marketplaces are set up so that it is easy to make an offer below the selling price. For example, on eBay, you can bid against other buyers in auction-style listings. It's worth a shot!

11. Check the Garments Materials

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Does something feel silky when it's actually made from polyester? Know what you are paying for by checking out the materials. Polyester, nylon, and acrylic are cheaper to manufacture, while fabrics like silk and cashmere deserve higher price points.

12. Get To Know How Different Fabrics Feel

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Get to know how various materials feel by checking the tags. This may be useful when you find clothing without the composition label, and you can score lower prices for higher-quality fabrics.

13. Cash, Not Card

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It's easy to get carried away when shopping, and vintage shopping can be costly. Many thrift shops operate on a cash basis. Skip the credit card to avoid overspending and stay within budget for the day.

14. Be Aware of the Trends

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Luckily for us, fashion trends often cycle back around. You may pick up something from the '80s that is stylish today. Imagine finding a fab trench coat or boot-cut flares next time you go vintage shopping. They would blend in well with today's style.

15. Don't Buy Fakes

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Some fakes are easy to spot, while some are not. Be sure to check its original labels for authenticity. The brand and size information labels give clues such as who made it and in what year.

16. Check the Soles of Shoes

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Some shoes are well-worn, and you can quickly tell this by looking at the soles of the feet. Avoid shoes that need new heels or tips; it might not be worth the cost.

17. Bring a Friend

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A friend interested in shopping could help you think creatively and find clothes that complement you. The experience of shopping is more enjoyable and comforting with friends, especially when they offer insights and guidance to help you make excellent fashion decisions.

18. Have Fun With It

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There are no hard rules when it comes to vintage shopping. Find the clothes that fit your personality. If it makes sense for work, shop vintage blazers and briefcases. Try to match your finds with your day-to-day looks. You can undoubtedly find staples you can keep in your wardrobe for years!

Author: Caitriona Maria


Caitriona is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For seven years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.