Award-winning vintage fashion + homewares
Award-winning vintage fashion + homewares
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10 Insider Tips for Buying Vintage Clothing

Vintage clothing is a great way to invest in keep-forever items. Not only will you be buying items that can gain value over time and help the planet but the chance of bumping into somebody wearing the same thing will be pretty much eradicated.

Lynnette, owner of Lovely's Vintage Emporium has put together this easy-to-follow guide for those who like vintage and retro styles, but are unsure where to begin when buying the real thing.

  1. Where to shop vintage

To ensure the vintage clothes and accessories that you buy are really vintage then shop from reputable vintage dealers, both online and IRL shops. Also ask friends and family if they have any pieces hiding in the back of their wardrobes that they no longer want. Car boot sales and online auction sites are more tricky for beginners, as you cannot guarantee you are buying genuine vintage.

  1. Shop savvy for vintage online

The convenience of shopping online is why it is a habit that is on the rise. You can shop at both midnight and midday, which let's be honest is so appealing. When shopping vintage online read each websites' 'About Us' section to ensure they are true experts and make sure they have a secure payment system, a returns policy, photography of the clothing from all angles and full measurements for each item. We have all of these of course!

  1. Shop savvy for vintage in a shop

Get to know the owners of local vintage shops and they may even be able to source stock to fit your size and style. Plus, if they are experts then their advice for any novices will be invaluable. If you can shop early morning or afternoon, when the majority of people are at work then you will have more chance of picking up the best pieces.

  1. Rework your existing vintage

Whilst I am not a huge fan of altering vintage clothing, there are exceptions. There are plenty of vintage non-designer Polyester dresses out there, so if you see a cheap one for sale and you love the fabric and fit but would prefer it a different length then get handy with your scissors or pay a seamstress to do it for you. I don't recommend this with pieces pre-1960s as they are becoming rarer and fabrics are often frailer.

  1. Get to know your vintage labels

Find a decade that you most identify with and then research the fashion brands that dominated that decade. Spend time learning about the labels and use verified sites such as The Vintage Fashion Guild for your research.

  1. Buy vintage fabric and make your own pieces

Vintage fabric often has super interesting prints. I recently found a large piece of 1980s cotton fabric with images of vintage women in red and blue swimsuits. Within a few hours I had a summer dress. Heavier fabrics such as curtains can be transformed into coats, if you are more experienced at sewing.

  1. Buy for your vintage shape

Different shapes and styles of vintage clothing suit different body types - and we are all different shapes and sizes. If you are a leaner shape, then straight-up-and-down 1920s and 1930s dresses will fit and suit. If you are more curvy and hourglass, like Lovely's Vintage Emporium client Holly Willoughby then have a look at 1950s and some early 1960s fashion. Floaty and loose styles were hugely popular in the 1970s, and that looks suits most body shapes including presenter and author Dawn O'Porter – another Lovely's Vintage Emporium client. Try on various vintage styles to work out the decade that you feel is the most 'you'.

  1. Size up your vintage

Vintage sizes are not akin to modern sizes as generally speaking women in the UK have increased in size with each generation and manufacturers who make clothing have adjusted sizes on labels accordingly. If you find a vintage UK 14 label, for example, it will now be suitable for a modern UK 10. Go down two sizes and it will probably be more accurate for now. Most sellers in both shops and online will have done this work for you and we always say in our listings what size the item is for a 2023 figure.

  1. Look after and treasure your vintage

If you buy vintage pieces of historical importance or value, or because you want to wear them for decades to come, then look after them. Store them on either padded hangers or wrap in acid-free tissue paper and keep in a dry and cool environment. Obviously don't smoke, cook greasy food or let a pet near them. 

  1. Enjoy wearing your vintage pieces

But most importantly make sure that you ENJOY the vintage you source. Wear what you want and what you love and the opinions of others are really irrelevant.

I hope you enjoyed reading this and the tips are helpful. Love Lynnette!


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