Buying Vintage: Everything You Need To Know

Those of you who are vintage virgins, sit yourself down with a cup of tea as I have some wisdom to impart, even if you aren't it's always good to get some ideas from elsewhere. You guys know I love vintage but it can be a little bit of a love/hate thing from time to time. I wanted to pop up some pictures of my recent vintage buys along with a few tips that might help you in your own vintage shopping. 

How To Buy Vintage

1. Do not be scared of styles from different eras

I've always been a resolutely 1950's girl, nipped in waists and flared skirts, then I discovered the joy of a 1940's land girl style tea dress and now I love those too. I've even opened up to shift dresses which I haven't necessarily been sold on just yet but I've tried and liked a few. The point being, styles will surprise you, don't limit yourself.

2. Ignore sizes for the most part

I know how tough that can be, but rather if you can use the sizes on the labels as a guide you can get a better fit. We're all much bigger since the 1920's even the 1950's, not only in width but height, add to that the issues around modern day vanity sizing and you'll see that the size that is on the back of our dresses from Oasis may be a different size than what our ideal vintage size is. For example, I'm both tall and bestowed with 'a gracious plenty' in front and back, so as such dresses that weren't designed for my shape aren't going to fit me well. I tend to go up a size or two and belt if I need it. Don't worry about the sizing. 

3. You have to try it on

The vintage rule that should be emblazoned on every changing room and shop everywhere.Try it on. The fact of the matter is that unlike contemporary fashion, you probably won't see the item in your hand on 3/4 models in magazines. So apart from what you see on the hanger, you won't have a clue how it will actually fit. That's why you must try it on, busty girls, tall girls, petite girls, curvy girls, sometimes vintage dresses adhere to a more rigid pattern so try it on, you may get a lovely surprise.

4. Enjoy the revivals

Throughout fashion history styles have repeatedly been revived, from Grecian design right through to the 1950's echo in the 1970's, the 1920's androgyny in the 1980's, even the 1990's revival now. You may be thinking, so what ? I'll tell you what, revival pieces are great because more modern pieces are increasingly mass produced, have a little more forgiveness in the fabric and can be bought for a fraction of the inspired piece's tag. I have quite a few 1970's 50's revival pieces I picked them up for a steal and they all have some lovely stretch. Keep your eyes open!

5. Don't be scared to rummage

Unlike our High Street stores vintage stores don't have each item in multiple sizes arranged just so, you need to get in there and get your rummage on. Sometimes it can feel more than a little overwhelming when you are confronted with rails and rails of seemingly unending mixed up clothes. I would say give yourself time, don't try and do a big vintage haul in a half hour, you need to locate and try on so give yourself a little longer. That is how you turn up the real gems.

6. Enlist help

This follows on from my last point. Enlist help in looking for pieces, grab your friends, have a conversation about what you're looking for, the rough size, the style so that you have a few more eyes all looking. If you're on your own, go and talk to the shop assistants, give them an idea of what you're looking for, it's ok if you say that you really don't know, but they'll have great suggestions and an inside knowledge of what is in the store. Shopping vintage can be like normal shopping but the best vintage emporiums will be rather more chaotic so make it a bit easier on yourself.

7. Befriend a dressmaker

It isn't as popular nowadays to have clothes altered, we have a plethora of size options, so really dressmakers are more used to formal wear adjustments. Here's the thing though, if there's a piece you love which isn't fitting you well then getting it altered is an easy way to make it work. For example, the dress below this picture, I love it, but it's a maxi and I am a bit too tall for the maxi so it's more of a long midi on me. I'm considering taking it up a little or leaving it. But, what I will be doing is getting the zip replaced. The zip is original and it doesn't lock, so as my bust pressures it it goes flying downward to my bellybutton leaving me red faced and not happy. I've also replaced my favourite Hellbunny dress with the only one I could find anywhere which is two sizes too big. I'll be bringing my original to the dress maker along with the new for alteration. Dressmakers are wonderful, I wish I had the sewing skills and I'd make all my own clothes but until then I'll be supporting my local dressmaker to get a great fit.

8. Online vintage shopping

My favourite way of shopping vintage these days is online. I have my favourite vintage sellers saved on eBay so I always check on their new stock. You won't find out what it looks like on you before you buy it, so I tend to go up a size, but it is very easy to shop. You don't have to rummage around, you'll see things on a mannequin and you'll usually get an idea of the material from the seller. Nowadays it's where I do most of my vintage buying, you also get some of the best bargains!

So that's my take on what you need to know to shop vintage. Have you got any more tips for me?

Much Love

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