Pick up items as you find them. Unlike most retail clothing stores, there’s no storage room in the back of a second-hand or vintage shop that’s filled with stock. Whatever is out on the floor is all there is to be had. If you like something you come across, grab it right away so you can try it on before someone else discovers it.
Go for the classics. Until you’ve become an old hand at vintage shopping, stick to clothing with clean lines and timeless shapes. Look for pieces you can wear over and over again to variety of places and events.
Avoid anything that’s stained. Even if you love a piece of clothing, don’t waste your money on it if it’s soiled or stained. Obviously, the previous owner could not remove the stain so odds are you won’t be able to either.
Don’t concentrate too much on size. Clothing sizes have changed quite a bit over the decades. Today’s size10 is not the same as a size 10 of yesteryear. Most pieces can be tailored to fit as long as the sizing isn’t too off. If you are already getting a deal on an item, it will probably still be a bargain with the added cost of tailoring.
Use your sense of touch. Feel the fabric of something that interests you. If it feels stiff, brittle, or dry, you should probably put the item back on the rack. Most likely, the piece’s best days behind it.
Keep an open mind. Just because the pickings seem slim when you first walk in the door, doesn’t mean there’s nothing there worthy of your attention. Never give up right away. Keep moving through the racks and take the time to canvas the whole store.
Some folks absolutely love shopping at second-hand and vintage shops, while others want nothing to do with clothing that’s ever belonged to anyone else. Even if you’ve always had a negative opinion of shopping for or wearing used clothes, it may be worth taking a second look at the practice. Sure, some are second-hand and vintage shops are filled to the rafters with nothing but junk. However, there are also shops holding some real treasures… although sometimes those treasures might be well hidden.
Remember, when it comes to vintage and second-hand clothing, “old” does not necessarily equal “worn out.” In many cases, the quality of clothing made in earlier eras is far better than merchandize manufactured today. Plus, pieces from the past often have timelessness about them that helps keep them interesting and relevant.
People who frequent these shops regularly often find the experience exhilarating and satisfying. Yes… it can be a challenging undertaking. Yes… it can take plenty of time and effort. But, it can also be fun and rewarding. Finding something really special in a second-hand or vintage shop can feel like unearthing buried gold. Besides, it’s quite unlikely anyone else will ever be wearing the same unique item you’ve discovered at a second-hand or vintage clothing shop.
Here are a few tips from veteran vintage clothing shoppers.