How to Find Vintage Clothes

Once you understand that vintage fashion is “in” today, the possibilities for style changes become virtually endless. Vintage clothing has always been a very popular phenomenon, but with a bit of a modern twist, you will end up with impressive combinations for your day to day wear. However, the ultimate challenge in retro wear is knowing how to wear it, where to find it, and which era is trendy.

From the ‘40s to the early ‘90s, everything has seen a reemergence on the fashion scene: saddle shoes, spandex, full circle skirts, big collars, big hair. Every era has seen its comeback, as the designers of today simply update popular styles from other time periods. Basically, the concepts from other decades are the ones that return, rather than the actual items. Nonetheless, the vintage clothing items can work great if you want to enhance your sense of style. And although fashion designers do their best to create lines which incorporate old-school details, there are vintage clothing pieces to be found everywhere: from your mother’s closet to a downtown thrift shop.

However, if you want to try your hand and luck at finding authentic vintage clothing items, there are a few things you need to consider first. For instance, the pieces you will find at a thrift store are second-hand, and usually cheaper than the items in an authentic vintage store. You can find thrift items at various locations, such as flea markets, second-hand stores, as well as the Salvation Army. On the other hand, vintage clothing refers to apparel and accessories from a completely different era. Hence, vintage wear will differ greatly in price and quality.

However, no matter if you’re shopping at a second-hand shop or the best vintage clothing store in the city, you need to make sure that your article is in mint condition. Look out for any damage, defects or stains in the stitching, lining, finishing, and exterior, and make sure you won’t require alterations, as they can sometimes cost a lot more than the item itself.

Most cities –metropolitan ones especially – have a lot of quality vintage clothing and thrift stores. But if you don’t want to spend countless hours sifting through torn shirts and frayed dresses, check out the quality thrift and vintage stores. Ask around for reputable locations where quality retro wear is on stock, and not the stuff which was declined by the Salvation Army. Check out the Yellow Pages, under “vintage”, “thrift clothing”, or “retro”, or head straight to a district where you will find an abundance of such stores.

For example, in New York you cannot go wrong with the East Village and the Lower East Side, but you will also find plenty of vintage clothing stores in hip or artsy neighborhoods. You can also check districts where coffee shops and “eclectic” stores are to be found – you will usually see many quality vintage clothing stores there.

Another good location for finding vintage clothing is major thrift retailers, such as Savers. Although they stock all kinds of second-hand clothes, you could find some hidden treasures, like some perfectly washed-out Levi’s jeans just waiting to be worn. However, it will take you quite a lot of time to sift through the merchandise, so be patient and if possible bring along a friend who also loves retro wear. And bear in mind that simply because something costs less than a newspaper, it’s not necessarily a vintage you should own: it will only collect dust in your closet, so it’s not worth it.

No matter where you decide to buy your vintage clothing from, though, you will need to know how to recognize authentic retro wear. Choosing vintage fashion is just like picking a bottle of wine: you should know a good one when you see it. Therefore, you should not be fooled by merchants claiming that the blouse you’re contemplating is actually from the Victorian era. Once you get to know vintage clothing merchandise and time periods better, you will learn the signs of quality and authenticity which will turn you into a savvy, successful vintage fashion consumer. Just to get you started, you should know that details such as buttons, cuffs, buttonholes and workmanship are good indicators of the item’s authenticity and quality.

However, bear in mind that simply owning some great vintage clothes is not enough in the fashion department. You also need to know where and how to wear your pieces without looking like a time traveler.

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