How to buy vintage clothing?

Every wondered how to buy vintage clothing and get it right?

There are some pitfalls that every first time vintage buyer will make, so we thought we may give you a basic guide on how to buy vintage clothing.

Buy Vintage

Firstly decide if you will be shopping for vintage clothing online or in store. Both have their advantages, buying vintage online you will be able to see items in a very formulaic and up front way such as here, all damage should be listed and images will provide you with a feel for the garment. In store you can feel, try on and examine for yourself, but you will rarely find the breath of stock you find online. However, buy vintage at fairs and get the best of both worlds, you can touch and will often have a large selection on offer.

If you decide to buy vintage in a store, the way  we enjoy shopping is to start by looking at the fabrics, see if anything catches our eye. Naturally, most people have a preference for a certain color, pattern or style of fabric, that their eye is drawn to. Once you find something you like, there are a few easy ways to gauge if it will fit. Not all vintage markets have changing rooms so come prepared with clothes you can easily try things on over and take a tape measure.

  • Hold the waist of the desired item up to your own, this will soon give you a quick idea if it will fit.
  • Use a tape measure and do a quick few measurements of you and the garment. Measure the garment flat then double to get a waist, bust and hip measurement. Do remember that older fabrics often were not elasticized so allow a little bit of room for movement when you are measuring.
  • Try it on, but be careful as some vintage items can be deceiving. Proportions of older garments vary from era to era so something that may look to fit on the bust may be tiny on the waist.

Buy VintageOnce you have established if it fits or not, and before you buy vintage, it is important to consider is that these items are old. By old, the definition of vintage means they could be anything up to 100 years old.  So look for damage you would expect on aged clothes. The places we would start looking at seams, hemlines and armpits. Don’t worry if you find some damage, this is a great way to get a bargain, these flaws can often be fixed.

  • Seams where stitching has come loose, can easily be repaired by hand or on a sewing machine.
  • Hemlines that are drooping will take very little time to repair by hand, keep the stitching small and follow the natural crease in the garment. 
  • Discoloration of armpits and small marks, depending on fabric, can be hand washed or soaked. Be wary washing wools, rayons and silks or anything with embellishment. If in doubt take it to a good dry cleaner.
  • Split fabric under armpits, typically seen in linings, must be viewed with caution, while they can be fixed it takes a lot of time and can be tricky. 
  • Small holes, can sometimes be fixed with a few small stitches, or even by darning, but be wary as it may mean moths.
  • Musty smell, while possibly a little disappointing is easily resolvable. Either hand wash if suitable, spritz with vodka or hang in sunlight.

We would recommend once you find a vintage item you love buy it before it goes. Often these items are unusual, unique and hard to find a second item exactly the same, which in itself is an amazing reason to buy vintage garments. Some dealers will negotiate, so feel free to ask what their best price is. You never know, you may end up with a bargain.

Once you get home, pop whatever you buy in the freezer for 24 hours, especially if it is wool it will kill off any moths, bugs and unwated. Then wear and enjoy your vintage buy.

Post to follow about the care of your vintage clothing.