Following the success of Dawn Porter’s Channel 4 series This Old Thing Vintage Clothes Show, the love of vintage as rocketed. Dawn’s message is simple, forget the High Streets throw away fashion and get back to the thinking of there is still life in this old thing.
Shopping for vintage isn’t easy, you need patience and not going into it with something particular in mind. If vintage scares you because it size confusing and moth holed pieces do not panic this is the beauty of vintage.
So I give you my top tips for vintage shopping
- Sizing – The sizing is completely different now, to then. It’s best to just try on and ignore the labels, women were smaller. I am a size 8 but I fit in 60s/70s size 12 and a size 14 in 1950s.
- Check the garments – Some vintage shops can be dark and crowded, make sure you hold the garment up to the light to check for holes and repairs needed. Check the armpits, before the days of deodorant sweat damaged fabric to the acid in perspiration….gross I hear you say……yes indeed but a good quality dry cleaners can rectify smells and stains. It’s also important to check the buttons and zips. However you can update pieces with changing the buttons if some are missing. Anything that is missing its ok to ask for a reduction in the price.
- Shoes are tricky – Lots of vintage places will admit it’s difficult getting shoes. Shoe sizes were smaller…however if you are lucky enough to find the perfect pair it is important to always check the bottom of the shoes. Check the leather around the buckles and straps, these may break easily. In some cases the sole can be reinforced but this can be expensive.
- Don’t be scared to head to the Fitting Room – Vintage items can look bizarre and bright or lack hanger appeal, but try it, you don’t know until you do! Have fun doing so and you might be pleasantly surprised. Open mind…
- Talk to the Assistants….If you are looking for era specific pieces talk to these guys who can help and advise. They should know their stock inside and out, but it’s also an opportunity to make a friendship where they can keep special pieces behind for you.
- It’s not just Vintage Shops – Charity shops are also a great place to pick up classic pieces. But you have to know your labels…and I don’t mean names. The main thing to look for is the Made in Britain label and washing label! If there is no washing or care instruction this is pre 1970s! The big give away is the date on the label…or the RN number this is started in the 50s, you can look online the RN number to find out how old the garment is.
- Have a Kit….when I say Kit I mean go prepared. Know your measurements and go with a tape measure. It will save a lot of flapping in the changing rooms! Have a waist belt in your kit, it’s miraculous the difference when garments are pinched in. Most importantly a smile…for when you need those discounts.