Top 10 Tips for Buying Vintage
on 04 September 2017
For shoppers on a tight budget, today’s love for all things vintage is a winning situation. More and more people are embracing the notion of buying used clothing from a thrift store, the only bad thing being that you’ve got some stiff competition when it comes to getting your hands on the goods.
Shopping at the Red Cross Shop will always score you a bargain, but to walk away with a good vintage find, follow these tips:
1. Learn basic sewing
While pretty much everything you find at the Red Cross is in good nick, having a basic knowledge of sewing allows you to enter the store with a customising hat on. A new zip, new buttons, a colour patch or a bit of stitching and you can turn an ordinary piece of clothing into something unique and special.
2. Take Pinterest as your shopping buddy
Before you head to the Red Cross, go pin crazy on Pinterest and save all your favourite vintage styles. Once you’ve got a good collection, filter the styles into pins you believe you could pull off. As you shop, refer you to your saved styles to see if any items of clothing could fit in with the look you want. The more pins you have, the more likely you’ll find some pieces that are perfect.
3. Know what you’re looking for and don’t give up
If you’re not one to browse the racks leisurely, choose a couple of pieces to look for and every time you visit The Strand Coolangatta, pop your head into the Red Cross Shop and have a quick hunt. Eventually the very thing you’re looking for will appear and you’ll be stoked you never gave up.
4. Prioritise fit
Yes, we know you’ve found a 1948 Dior dress coat, but what good is it if it’s a size 14 and you’re a size 8? A great coat at a great price is a fantastic find, but only if it fits. Otherwise you’ll be paying a fortune to have it altered, or find it stays in your wardrobe unworn. What a waste!
5. Consider what can be tailored
An entire coat might not be able to be scaled down three sizes, but a shirt with oversized shoulder pads can be easily altered to bring a touch more modern into your vintage look. Many vintage items can be nipped and tucked quite simply, so consider this before you write a piece off. Alter a quality $10 blouse and you’ve got yourself a great vintage blouse for $25-30. You’ve still scored a bargain, even with alteration costs.
6. Know the difference between vintage and thrift
Vintage denotes something special. It suggests an item that has stood the test of time and remains relevant because of its timeless style, historical or cultural significance, or its interesting provenance. Vintage is different to second-hand. Usually items are 20-years or older and have a recognisable look that communicates the style of an earlier decade. Closely linked to “authenticity”, vintage essentially means a genuine article. Just because something looks old and a little worn, doesn’t make it “vintage”.
7. Consider undergarments
When trying on vintage clothing, it’s important to remember that the undergarments you wear can make a huge difference to the fit. True vintage clothing was designed to work with distinct silhouettes created by shape-shifting garments like corsets, girdles and bullet bras. Without the right undergarment, it might not look the same as it was intended to.
8. Know your eras
Typically, the easiest eras to shop will be those closest to now, as there is likely to be an abundance of clothing to choose from. With this in mind, search for style inspiration from the 70’s and 80s, rather than the 50’s or 60’s.
9. Remember quality
You might be confused by a high price on a second-hand item, but remember that good quality vintage comes at a price. Yes, you might be able to buy something brand new for a similar price, but a general rule of thumb, especially for higher-end designer pieces, is that the older the piece, the higher the quality. Pay attention to detail and handwork, and look for the durability you don’t find in today’s contemporary pieces.
10. Ignore sizes on labels
Sizes are not consistent throughout every decade. Think of Marilyn Monroe - would she really be considered a size 6 in today’s standards? Most vintage sizes have no correlation to the sizes of today’s clothing, so hold things out or try things on rather than just stare at the labels.
About the Red Cross Shop
The Red Cross Shop sells donated clothes, shoes, handbags and scarves, as well as manchester, kitchenware and bric-a-brac. All proceeds from the sale of donated goods help support Red Cross Humanitarian activities and make a difference in the lives of vulnerable people.
You can learn more about the work of the Red Cross and the communities they help here.