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What To Look For When Vintage Shopping

by How She Styles


What’s old is always new again in the fashion world.


This couldn’t be truer in a season of fashion where the 80s and 90s are being revived and people are looking for the craftsmanship of a time long past. Finding the perfect vintage piece can be a chore, but with the right strategy you can find that one treasure.

Vintage shopping can be considered a sport these days, so I am here to help you navigate the racks and find the perfect vintage pieces for your wardrobe.

Don’t Look at the Size Tag

It could have stretched or shrunk, or have come from a time when there was different sizing all together. If the piece looks like it might fit then put it up against your body or try it on. I once found a dress that had to be from the 50s, but was marked as a size 13. I tried it on and it ended up being today’s size 4/6. Same goes for something that says it’s your size, but it’s been shrunk two sizes smaller from the previous owner.


What To Look For When Vintage Shopping - How She Styles

Check the Fabric

Check for rips, tears, cuts, and scratches. If it’s damaged then check if you could have it fixed and determine whether that cost is worth the purchase. Sometimes a needle and thread is all you need.


Play with ALL the Hardware

This is specific to handbags and shoes. Wear it as much as you can around the store and test every piece of hardware.  Play with any strap or zipper. If the strap clasp breaks or if the zipper falls off, you’ll have to deal with hardware repairs, which are typically the most expensive.  In regards to shoes, check the soles to see what the wear is like and if you would need to re-sole them.



Look for Fabrics

If you’re looking through packed racks, what usually catches your eye? A print? A color? A texture? These are all characteristics of the fabric, so look for fabrics you might want to add to your wardrobe and keep that in mind when you’re scanning the racks.


What To Look For When Vintage Shopping - How She Styles


Get it Tailored

Tailoring is a vintage shopper’s best friend! You find those perfectly-fitted vintage Levi’s 501s, but the waist is a little bit big? The tailor can make them fit like a glove. Love that vintage blazer, but the shoulder pads are 6” thick? A tailor can fix that for you. (If you’re on a budget, you can do that all on your own with just scissors, needle, and thread!)


(Bonus Tip!) Seek in Other Sections

One of my favorite parts of shopping in thrift and vintage shops is browsing the men’s section. My fiancé makes fun of me every time we start shopping for him and I end up finding things for myself. My top picks from the men’s section are button downs, slogan tees, and blazers.


What tips do you have when you’re shopping vintage? Let me know in the comments below.

Make sure you also check out my video all about restoring my own vintage purchase!

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