For everyone starting out in the vintage scene, it can be a bit nerve-racking! You look at all the lovely blogs and pin up photos around the web, and you wonder where to begin. Before starting on the tips, every vintage loving gal should know, you need to figure out what your end goals are: are you planning on going full vintage for your wardrobe, mix modern with vintage, or look in to retro brands.

Vintage clothing is seldom in mint condition, it can be in fragile shape, stained, have a smell, and so on. But that moment when you get your hands on a gorgeous 1950s dress, you truly feel the craftsmanship that went in to creating it, and all those other flaws no longer seem so important!

Doing your research is the key, not only getting the background for the era you are interested in, but it also helps you be a smart buyer. Living in the age of the web, can help a tremendous amount.

Whether you love the roaring 20s, the psychedelic 60s, or you’d like to add a mix of vintage pieces to your wardrobe, these tips will help you get started on your journey to buying vintage clothing!

1. Explore

Where to find vintage items? Vintage items can be found anywhere from your local charity shop to a garage sale. The tip here is don’t be afraid to explore your neighborhood, or when you are visiting some place new, check out the local shops, you might find hidden treasures!

2. Be Prepared to Rummage

In order to find a garment you seek, prepare to look through many items. You may go to a shop, and not find anything you like, but don’t let this discourage you.

3. Start off With Basics

When picking out your items, it can be extremely tempting to pick out a party dress or something else extravagant. There’s always time for that later, first, start off with a key piece for your everyday wear: a cardigan, blouse, skirt, and so on.

4. Dress Comfortably

Wear comfortable clothing and shoes when you go shopping, since you might be browsing for a while, especially if you are attending a large event.

5. Bring a Tape Measure

A tape measure is handy. Whether you’re shopping for clothes or housewares, a small tape measure will assist you in making smart buys. If you are unable to try on an item, this will help you decide if the item will fit.

6. Try on Before You Buy

We’ve all had this happen to us: you fall in love with a stunning dress and it looks like it will fit. You go to try it on, and it’s much too snug! This is true for vintage items, they might look your size, but to be 100% sure, measure the item or try it on, or both!

7. Ignore Label Sizes

Sizes vary in modern brands and this is particularly true for vintage. If the garment has a brand label, that’s great and it will assist you in finding out information about where and when it was made. Luckily (or not for some), labels are removed or have fallen off with age, so you won’t need to worry about the size. If the label is there, remember, those numbers or letters do not reflect current sizing!

8. If Something Feels Snug, Let it Go

Fabric ages and becomes more fragile with time; therefore if you squeeze in to something that has no breathing room, you may ultimately ruin the garment. If you are willing to modify a vintage garment or you are a sewing enthusiast, buying bigger can be a fun project.

 9. Check for Flaws and Overall Condition

Whatever it is that you’re buying, the condition of the item is important! Before buying, inspect the item thoroughly. Old stains may never come out, so if they are in a noticeable location, where a scarf or a brooch may not disguise it, you may want to look for something else. Rips and tears may be mended, but also, it depends on their location. Smells are a tricky one, many odors will go with a good cleaning, and some linger forever. Always steer clear of molding, or mold stains, those murky smelling stains will never come out.

10. When Shopping Online, Shop Around

Since you’re in the comfort of your home, online shopping is very convenient and fun! When looking for a blouse, for example, check multiple shops. With Retro designs, some sites that stock the brand, may have sales, for vintage, you may find similar items for a better price. Use the items name, type it in Google search, Etsy, Ebay, Ruby Lane, and see what happens!

I hope you found these tips helpful. Let us know in the comments below if you have any others or share with us any great finds you’ve recently discovered.

If you’re after a little inspiration, sign up to my monthly email where I include my favourite vintage finds. New subscribers will also receive my latest ebook: A Beginner’s Guide to Buying Vintage.

Good luck with your vintage hunting!

Thanks to Kristina Sawyer of The Vintage Cat for this guest post. If you’d like to write a guest post for me please get in touch, I’d love to hear from you!