how to shop for vintage on etsy like a fashion stylist
Every girl should experience the thrill of a good vintage wardrobe. Trust me, vintage nearly saved my life after becoming a minimalist. And yet, shopping for vintage clothing can be an exhausting, albeit a highly rewarding indulgence for those who are into mindful fashion. But what do you do if you want a beautiful retro piece, yet totally lack the time to search through a ton of racks? I mean you're like so busy, that you couldn't find time even if it slapped you in the face with a custom Birkin! Thankfully, Etsy has a huge variety of beautiful vintage clothing for sale. So that time you think escaped you, well, it will find you when you're sitting browsing Facebook for hours and rather be window shopping from the comfort of your home.
There’s some talk that Etsy is giving Ebay a run for its money. For a long, long time. The hype is true. Ever since its introduction on the world wide marketplace, Etsy has grown a reputation for having a huge variety of uniquely well curated vintage collections from the creme de la creme of veteran sellers.
But easy, happy hunting it is not. Years ago, it was simple enough to find vintage clothing for a bargain steal at local thrift stores, but with the growing popularity of thrifting and vintage both online and off, prices have skyrocketed. Rachel Zoe anyone? Therefore, I thought I would pop in and share some of my fashion stylist tips to help you find some awesome vintage finds!
Tips for Shopping for Vintage Clothing Online
Know what you are looking for
If you go shopping with a plan, it’s easier to prevent splurging on beautiful, yet unnecessary clothing. Maybe you want vintage clothes to wear to work, or something to wear to a friend’s wedding; just be clear about what you want before you get started. In addition, try to find out the era that you prefer to help narrow your choices down. This is made easier if you followed along with my Lean Wardrobe series and discovered your style personality!
Before you make your purchase, check out the offering of more than one vintage store so that you can get a feel for the selection and the prices. Once you know what you're on the hunt for, it's easy to notice how a plethora of shops carry similar pieces just with different little nuances or ornamentation/decorative stylings. In addition, check out which stores have the best reputations and which one stocks the most clothing that is aligned with your personal style.
Do your homework
Vintage is totally cooler than the ones you can buy now because they have a story. It is a good way to learn about why and how trends happen in style. Everyone is not honest and virtuous and someone may try to sell you a flapper gown from the Jazz age with zippers. However, if you know your fashion history, you will not be fooled; zippers were adapted from fashion use some ten years after the Jazz age and they were mostly used on kids’ clothes and men’s work clothes. This is an important step so that you can make sure that your clothing is really vintage and not just have the appearance of being retro; there are a number of stores that sell knock off items. As an avid shopper, I'm sure I don't have to tell you that part.
Look for sales
Simply sign up on the email list of your favorite vintage sellers so that you are instantly notified when they will be having specials. Organize your time so you check them immediately. There is a huge difference between a sale at Macy's and a vintage sale. First come, first serve, and most pieces are never to be seen again.
Sizing your vintage clothing
Clothes that were made in days of yesteryear usually run smaller than the comparable size of today, so be sure to know your measurements for accurate sizing. Too much homework? The general rule is that you will need to add 2 sizes to your current size to find the size that would fit you in authentic vintage clothing. However, just in case this rule doesn’t work for you, be sure that the store that you purchase from has an exchange or return policy.
Know the sellers
Etsy sellers can be very useful friends. If you find yourself frequenting a certain shop, email the seller to tell her how much you like her selection. In addition, if you are looking for something specific, let them know. If they end up listing a piece like the one you wanted you may get first dibs.
Vintage shopping on Etsy can be intimidating because there are so many choices to pick from. But it can be conquered if you know what to look for.
Taking Care of Your Vintage Clothing
Now that you have found your perfect vintage seller, there’s still more for you to learn. The most important thing is that these clothes are old and, therefore, must be treated with care. Don't be lazy girl, you gotta skip the washing machine and clean your clothes by hand or at a dry cleaner. In addition, do not put them in a dryer. You're going to have to treat your vintage clothes like treasures because that’s what they are. Your little treasure children. Plus, it is essential to note, that if you happen to lose a button or ruin your clothing’s embroidery, you may not be able to get it fixed. But don't cry over spilled milk. It was fun while it lasted!
There are a number of things that should be considered when purchasing vintage clothing e.g. what appeals the most to you. You must select something to focus on but be prepared to branch out if necessary. In addition, be sure to study the era that you are interested in. A focused strategy will come in handy during indecisive purchasing decisions, as well as make your collection of vintage clothing more interesting.
If you plan to wear your vintage clothing, you must be sure to find clothes that are sturdy enough to handle average usage. So try to avoid irreplaceable and frail clothing. Good labels are a plus, but the majority of vintage clothing will not be labeled. Look for construction clues as signs of quality like hand sewing, flat lining, handset zippers, covered buttons, silk linings, etc. - these are all signs of quality construction, no matter the era.
Beautiful and interesting fabrics have an amazing ability to stand the test for time e.g. silk, wool, cotton, and linen (look for these fabrics) in textures that appeal to you, are in good condition, and that work well with the cut of the garment. For example, rayon is quite sturdy and holds its color exceptionally well. Be prepared to see a ton of prints and patterns, along with a lot of black and white.
No matter what you choose to buy, you must remember that vintage clothing is truly an investment and if you take the time to properly maintain its values. Be sure to store and clean your items properly - unscented padded hangers to hang them up and store the heavier items in acid free papers and boxes. You can also line your clothing drawers with washed cotton.
Now that you have all these tips to help you find the perfect vintage pieces, go out there and have fun developing your taste, learning fashion history, and creating you own style with your vintage clothing finds.
Tell me in the comments, did you ever dive into the vintage fashion craze? What was your best find?