Buying Vintage: Dos and Don’ts

Who doesn’t love rummaging through vintage stores? Those hidden gems, out of sight from the busy high streets. Billie Holiday singing on a cassette in the corner, gathering dust, welcoming you in to rummage through endless rails of tea dresses, distressed Levis and worn leather boots – all of which have belonged to others, full of memories older than yourself. Vintage clothing has become increasingly popular over the past few years. But why the sudden interest in fur coats and old leather satchels?

The Recession

With the recession burning a hole in our purses, we’re now more aware of how we’re spending our money. Rather than wasting our student loans on new high street trends, we’re
searching for cheaper alternatives and staple pieces that can be worn for many years.


Fashion is a form of expression and a chance to portray your individual style. Every vintage shop is stocked full of unique items, ranging from the 1920s to the 1980s. So, instead of wearing the same items as a high street mannequin, vintage clothing allows you to embrace your uniqueness and wear one off pieces that nobody else has.


Lily Allen’s reality show From Riches to Rags followed Lily leaving the world of showbiz to open up her own vintage shop, which enabled people to not only buy, but rent items that were too expensive. Other celebrities are spotted wearing vintage on the red carpet, some avoid that awkward same dress situation and others add distinctive pieces, like a hat or pair of shoes to add character to an outfit. So, with a variety of celebrities wearing it to events, and some even leaving their glamorous lifestyles to peruse a career in vintage buying, it is a wonder why it is now one of the most popular trends.

Rummaging through vintage stores is fun and a great way to find those one off, affordable pieces that nobody else has. However, here are a few dos and don’ts when it comes to buying vintage, which will ensure you discover the treasures instead of the trash.


Do have an idea of what you’re looking for, what suits your personality and body shape, as this will make searching all the more easier and will stop you from purchasing items for the sake of it.

Do understand decades and what specific items are statements, such as 1920s flapper dresses, 1950s bolero tops and halter neck dresses, 1960s polka dots and paisley miniskirts and 1970s platforms and disco flares.

Do look for quality. Vintage clothes aren’t new and some will smell stale and have a couple of blemishes, but make sure you’re not buying any old junk. Check fabric, colour, odour, any tears or rips and insect damage – moths eating your clothes is not fun.

Do wash items before wearing (just be careful with the fragile ones)

Do make certain adjustments if you simply cannot leave the shop without buying a jacket that is three sizes too big. Sew it, pin it, cut it, make it your own.


Don’t buy it if you haven’t tried it on. Looks can be deceiving, so make sure you know how it fits before you commit to purchasing something that you’ll end up throwing in the back of your wardrobe.

Don’t put knits on hangers as it will stretch out the shoulders. Fold them instead.

Don’t store your vintage items in plastic bags, or leave them exposed to sunlight. They need to breathe and the rays from the sunshine will fade colour.

Don’t be afraid to ask. If you’re unsure about an item and want to know more about its history, ask an assistant. That is what they’re there for.

Don’t stick to the same vintage shop. Explore! Explore! There are thousands out there waiting to be discovered.

Enjoy rummaging and have fun!


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