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From boutiques to websites: the dos and don’ts of vintage shopping

It’s a familiar tale for lovers of vintage fashion everywhere – whether they’re shopping in a physical store or online – waiting for that ‘eureka!’ moment. The sensation of coming across that one item you know, instinctively and for sure, is absolutely for you. But how can you encourage that moment? Is there any way you can help bring it about, beyond scouring vintage outlets and websites?

Is it a case that mastering the old when it comes to fashion requires some sort of ancient know-how or is it best just to rely on dumb luck and a magpie’s eye for what you like? Well, the truth is there’s no real formula you can deploy, but there are one or two tips and tricks out there you might want to try out to, yes, tip your vintage shopping scales in your favour…

Where should you go for vintage shopping?

There’s no hard-and-fast rule here, nor should there be. After all, vintage shopping should be about fun. Finding an outlet that catches your eye; rummaging through the rails and coming across something that brings a smile to your face. More specifically, though, shops and markets tend to be great sources for vintage clobber, while the online option is obviously terrific too; especially if you know the sort of thing you’re looking for to start with – like, say, 1950s style dresses.

1950s style dresses

When is it worth spending money on an item?

The essential, fundamental question. Approach it by asking yourself four further questions: what’s the quality like? How’s it going to fit? Can you really afford it? And did you feel a surge of excitement when you came across it? If all these questions get an up-tick, then the answer’s probably yes.

How best is it browse in a vintage store?

Again, there’s no rule-of-thumb here; your best bet is to go about it in the way that feels most natural – maybe just stepping inside and heading for the nearest section or to start with what catches your eye. Having said that, if it’s a store with a particularly large number of offerings, then a good habit may be to push everything back on each rail so you can flick through each item quickly and individually.

Plus, as noted, if you’re searching for vintage clothing online, then your best bet may be to seek out what you’re specifically after in first; as much because it’s likely the website will be set up to facilitate you doing this. After that, though, why not check out what other treasures and bargains they contain!

What should make you buy an item?

That should be entirely up to you! And, frankly, will be dependent on what you’re looking for – whether you’re searching for something in particular and find it or whether you’re browsing at ease and come across something that takes your fancy. It also may depend on what sort of fabrics you like – are you a stickler for silk? Or a lover of linen? Or a died-in-the-wool fan of wool? Remember that good fabrics always suggest good quality and should last.

What shouldn’t make you buy an item?

Conversely, be on the look-out for any items that are damaged or obviously stained. There are bargains to be had out there, but that doesn’t mean you have to scrimp on quality.

Finally, what about fit? Should you buy something that will need tailoring afterwards?

Some vintage shoppers don’t mind buying something that isn’t exactly their size – and, of course, depending on style; some items can be worn looser than others – yet others swear by going by size every time. You’d be well advised to do the latter when shopping online for vintage because, in that scenario, you can’t try on an item until you’ve received it at home, of course. Yet, if it’s an item you really want, there’s no real reason why shouldn’t be open to the idea of tailoring either.

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