The Basics of Shopping for Vintage

clothes on a clothing rack

Back in August 2018, Kevin Kwan wrote for Harper’s Bazaar about the “real crazy rich Asians” that are dominating the world of high-end fashion. Kwan, the author of Crazy Rich Asians, sat down with four prominent and affluent Asian women who gathered in Paris, France for Fashion Week. He sat down for a chat with Feiping Chang, Rachel and Michelle Yeoh, and Heart Evangelista. These four women talked about their shopping habits. They can be outrageous with the expenses. They don’t hesitate to part with thousands of dollars to get the best piece of clothing of the season. They follow the work of their favorite designers and get the first pick on the best pieces.

The thing is, though, not everyone could have their shopping habits. Not everyone has the money to fly to Paris for Fashion Week, let alone actually buy one of the pieces straight from the runway. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a few good pieces, too! That doesn’t mean we can’t have a Chanel dress and a Louis Vuitton Purse. So what do we do? Well, we shop for vintage clothing. Here’s how.

Know Where to Buy

One of the most exhausting tasks in shopping for vintage is finding the perfect places to buy. You should always try to explore your hometowns or home cities. Don’t be afraid to check out even the most unlikely neighborhoods. You might be surprised. The residential area filled with schoolchildren and soccer moms might be hiding a gem where you can score the best vintage clothing. Then, whenever you’re abroad, you should also always explore vintage clothing stores. You’ll never know what you’ll find in the nooks and crannies of cities like Tokyo and Sydney.

When it comes to shopping for vintage, you have a lot of options. You can always visit the flea market near you on the weekends. You can always pop by Goodwill and the Salvation Army. Although these thrift stores are mainstream, you’ll never know when you’ll find good pieces.

Always Tailor, Restore and Launder

Many of us hesitate to shop for vintage because we’re afraid that nothing would fit. This has always been a very common problem. When we find the perfect pair of jeans, it’s not like we can ask for a size bigger or smaller. But don’t be too discouraged by the fit. And it’s because you can always run to a tailor and have the jeans tailored to fit you.

Don’t be afraid, too, to invest in the restoration of the best pieces. Deep inside the bins of purses, you might unearth an Hermès Birkin 40. Only, this purse has seen better days. The leather has withered. The zipper might be jammed. Perhaps the deep black color has turned into the most atrocious gray. But no matter because you might be able to find an expert who can restore this purse into something as good as new.

And, of course, always, always, always launder the things you buy, whether that’s clothing, bags, or shoes. It’s crucial that you get them cleaned. You’ll never know where these things came from. If you’re in a crunch and need to wear that cocktail dress to a party by nighttime, then acquire same-day laundry service. There’s no excuse for not getting your thrifted clothes washed.

woman looking at clothes rack

Never Skimp on the Quality

When you a fully-stocked thrift store, you might think that you just died and walked into heaven. But don’t get too carried away. There may be a lot of choices for clothes and accessories. But not all of them are worth buying, no matter how cheap the prices are. You must always, always check the quality of the clothing. How does the fabric feel on your skin? Does it look well-made?

This is why it’s always better to visit actual stores than buying vintage clothing online. This way, you can inspect the quality and gauge if it’s worth it. Some of them can be tailored or restored. But there are some that could not.

It’s also good to reconsider your purpose for shopping for vintage. Keep in mind that you’re shopping for quality clothing, not for branded clothing. If you’re hard-pressed for buying branded clothing, you might end up with a Burberry coat that’s totally unwearable.

Shopping for vintage clothing takes a lot of time, effort, and patience. It’s not like walking into a high-end shopping district and quickly finding a well-made piece of clothing. But it can always be a fun affair. Nothing could beat the feeling of finding a really good piece of vintage clothing that’s still well-made and comes at a very fair price.

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