1. Research – Researching which styles of clothing, types of fabric, construction methods etc were common in each era can help you accurately create a decade-specific look if that’s your thing, as well as making sure you don’t pay over the odds for an item that’s not worth it. If you can accurately date an item of clothing, you can make sure you know that it will be worth the investment – for example, older pieces are likely to be more delicate and therefore require more time and effort towards their upkeep. Whether you prefer to recreate looks from the past or wear your vintage clothing in a more modern way, having information like this at your fingertips can really help you to build a vintage wardrobe which works for you.
2. Learn how to care for vintage clothing – Due to their age, vintage items often require more care than new clothes. You may need to hand wash your vintage clothes instead of putting them in the washing machine, for example, or remove staining that may have been on the material for many years. Luckily, there are lots of guides available on the internet to help you learn how to care for vintage items of different ages and different materials.
3. Don’t buy things just because they’re cheap – It’s better to save your money for something you know you’ll love. I’ve fallen into the trap a few times of buying cheaper items that ultimately ended up being a waste of money because I didn’t love them enough, or they didn’t go with anything else in my wardrobe. I’ve worked hard to train myself out of the kneejerk reaction of buying an item just because it’s vintage and cheap, but now that I’ve been wearing vintage for a few years, I’m much better at recognising which items are a good bargain and which are cheap rubbish.
4. Shop often to get the best pieces – Vintage clothing is often one of a kind and can sell fast. You can often find the highest quality or best value pieces by shopping as often as possible. You may prefer to check auction sites such as Etsy or Ebay daily, and find out when your local vintage shops and charity shops/thrift stores restock so you can go shopping whenever they get new items in.
5. Consider everything before you buy the item, but be prepared to impulse buy – Does the item go with anything else you own? If it needs mending, are you able to do the repairs yourself, or are you prepared to pay to have it repaired by someone else? Does the item have a resale value if you decide you don’t like it? Are you prepared to let it go, knowing that you may not find the same/a similar item anywhere else? When I’m buying vintage clothing, I try to maintain a happy medium between careful considered buying and impulse buying. That way I keep the buyer’s remorse to a minimum but avoid missing out on items that I know I will ultimately regret not purchasing. However, your shopping habits will probably vary depending on factors such as your budget, availability of vintage clothing in your area and the amount of vintage clothing you choose to wear. The most important thing is to stick to whatever works best for you.
6. Check the measurements – Know your own measurements well, and check them against the measurements of the item of clothing. I always try to remember to take a tape measure with me when I’m shopping so that I check whether clothes are my size – vintage and charity shops don’t always have changing rooms available and depending on the shop, the clothes might not really be clean enough to try on anyway. If I’m shopping online, I always ask the seller for measurements if they are not provided. Your bust, waist and hip measurements are usually the most important, but you may sometimes need other measurements such as the width of your shoulders, length of your arms etc.
Guest post by Helen from LoveBirds Vintage, a UK-based blog about vintage fashion and living history.
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