24 April 2013

Tips and Tricks in buying 'Vintage' items

Have you always been wanting to sport those beautiful vintage dresses from the 70s but never find the courage or have the 'know how' to go about buying vintage?  Well, if that's your case, let me share some tips and tricks that I gathered from past experiences (trust me, they are not pretty) and what I learnt from some vintage shop owners.

First of all if you find the idea of wearing something that has been dug out of someone's safe storage unappealing, than vintage items are NOT for you.  But if the idea of owning something with history, quality or if you marvel at the time lapse that particular piece has gone through before ending up in your hands or that you are a fan of any particular era, then continue reading!

The term vintage actually are being use quite loosely even here in this post of mine.  By right the term vintage should be used only for items that came from the 60s and before.  Anything after the 60s is more appropriate to be categorized under 'retro'.  But nowadays most sellers even categorized anything that is 20 years or older as vintage.  Well, lets just say that this post is for 20 years or older 'vintage', shall we?

Buying vintage can be fun and fullfilling if/when you know how.  I learned the hard way and over the years I made some friends in vintage shopping scene that share with me some tips and tricks that come in useful when buying these treasures from the past. Here are some areas to consider when buying vintage items:

For vintage clothing :

Size : Vintage sizes are normally smaller than the current sizes.  In other words, if you are a size S, chances are a vintage size S dresses would be small for you.  Always size up. Better still get it measured or invest in a bit of time to try it on.  At the end of the day, it is better for the dress to be on the bigger side than smaller. There's always alteration option.

A dress from the 70s.  I swear my mother had a maxi in the same material when I was small!

Pay attention to details - see if all the buttons are intact and if some are not see if they can be replaced.  Check all zippers, see if they glide smoothly. Pay extra attention to stains, rips and holes.  It can still be a good piece if it can be fixed or washed. Read the washing guide label.  Beware of thinning in materials especially in chiffon or crepe. Check material quality by pulling on the stitches looking for cracking signs. We don't want to buy a dress that rips at first wear, do we?

Even if the items are labeled vintage, it does not mean they actually are.  Do some research, ask questions.  Look at the material used and the year the items supposedly were from.  For an example if a dress comes with Velcro it could not be from the 40s as Velcro was only used starting from the late 50s.  Lycra came into scene in the early 60s, Nylon in the 70s and Polyesters started making appearance in early 50s!  Research is key.

For  vintage handbag

Shop wisely and choose good reputable sellers.  If you are new to the seller, get the bag authenticated by Purse Forum or Lady Bag International.  They have experts that can tell you about the bag and some are at no extra costs!

Again, pay attention to detail.  Vintage bags usually come with quality, so look for sturdy stitching, solid hardware and good quality leather.  Most vintage bags come with leather lining so if you came across for an example a Chanel bag from the 80s with synthetic lining, be cautious and get it authenticated.

Chanel bag from early 1991

Also check all four corners of the bags.  Look for as clean as possible corners with less wear signs. Make sure that the wear sign at the corners are not being masked with using shoe polish.  Yes, it happened in some cases, I learned.

Ask about the bag, some history behind it - how many owners before you, where was it purchased.  This would come in handy if one day you decided to let the bag go to another buyer.  Single owner bags are usually in better condition but there are some that are with multiple owners yet still in fabulous shape!

Check for stains.  Some stains like dirt smudge or color transfer on untreated leather can be removed with proper product but beware of color transfer, discoloration and yellow stains on patent leather.  Unfortunately they are permanent.

Furla clutch from the 90s

So, there you go, some tips and tricks on vintage buying for you to get started.  Along the way with time you will learn more and will have better eyes in spotting good vintage!  

If you have been buying vintage for a while, do share your tips and tricks here for all of us to learn!

Linking up with :
Allison on Get Your Pretty On
Bre on Peacoats and Plaid


  1. Hi there-great vintage tips, I adore vintage dresses and designer vintage bags, they seem so much more sturdier and well made! xx

  2. I would love to do some vintage shopping but there are zero stores where I live. I need to remember to check when I go out of town. I never remember to look for places!


    Fashion and Beauty Finds

  3. Replies
    1. It is the year my eldest son was born :) I'm saving that bag for his wife ;)

  4. I'm not a huge vintage shopper but really admire blogs dedicated to vintage shopping .. it's quite amazing what these gals find.


  5. I think that what attract me to vintage is simply the quality- clothes used to be of better quality...However, it also used to more expensive and back in the day you wouldn't have had the choice you have now.

    So, shopping vintage is like the ideal solution. You get the best of the both worlds.

    Great post, useful tips! Thanks for sharing:)

  6. I love this post so much! It is SO helpful :) I usually find my vintage or retro items at thrift stores. I find that a lot of people toss out stuff that may have belonged to an old parent who has passed, or just don't know the value of an item. Recently I scored an Oscar de la Renta silk scarf, for $1.99! It had the watermark signature and the original label attached. Needless to say, I was thrilled! :)


    1. Wow, you must share the scarf with us on your blog!

  7. AMAZING POST!!!!!! :)



  8. Such a great post! I love searching the thrift stores for vintage pieces! Sometimes I find things so wonderful that I have a hard time passing it up even if there is some wear-and- tear going on...


  9. I love vintage shopping. Though I must say, I don't always have the spare time to frequent local shops - I have purchased many of my vintage pieces from Ebay. I love love vintage coach and dooney purses. Another good thing to do is research online what serials numbers and linings look inside authentic vintage bags. I have a few great informational sites bookmarked so I can always refer back to them when I'm vintage shopping online.

    That vintage furla is gorg! Great find.
    Merch Maven

    1. I shop vintage on ebay too! Bought a fabulous Chanel bag from ebay many years ago, that's my biggest score!

  10. I love vintage, there are plenty of vintage shops in Sweden but I haven't found that many here in Dubai, maybe I just haven't been looking closely enough! I want to find a nice vintage designer bag and they had this great shop in Green Community, however, the other day I saw it was closed :( Any great tips for us living in Dubai? Thanks for a great post! xxx

    1. I bought that Chanel in the picture in a shop in Mirdiff. It is a second hand shop for branded handbags (Good God I forgot the name, need to go and look for the receipt.. but it was made of a couple of french words) and there were a few vintage ones including some Hermes. They sell shoes too :)

    2. I don't think a thrift or vintage store would survive in Dubai, not in the city's culture and mentality.. sorry to be harsh here but another word for it is superficial

  11. These are great tips, Mrs. C! I only shop vintage periodically - I love all of the vintage pieces I have but I lack the skills (mainly, the patience) for the hunt. My husband, on the other hand, is an excellent vintage shopper, but I have to convince him to come along in order to take advantage of his skills :)

  12. Love the striped dress of the pic :)


  13. amazed by both super amazing bags!!!!!
    i stay here, feel free to follow back <3


  14. Great tips! Women make me despair when they browse my rails, hold up a vintage dress and reject it as the size on the label isn't their usual one. Everything needs to be tried on. xxx

    1. Thanks Vix for sharing :) Truly appreciate it

  15. Wow, great tips and awesome finds! I love vintage but have been intimidated about buying it.

  16. Love the colors of your dress. What a dress for vacation.

    If you get a sec, check out my latest post 'Striped Trench'.



  17. That post is really great. I like it. Have a nice day.


  18. The handbags....aaawwwww I want them so much!!

  19. I LOVE this vintage Furla clutch! You have some serious vintage scores there! Well-played!

  20. Great vintage items and tips: Love the 1991 chanel bag!
    Kisses from Miami,

  21. Beautiful dress! And love love the last clutch!
    Kisses and thanksssss!

  22. Wonderful tips my friend! Would love to begin a vintage collection - I will keep this!!

    xo Lulu

  23. thank you Mrs C... you're so kind!


    selene over the pond

  24. ive recently been diving into vintage shopping, thanks for the tips!!
    brooke @ what2wear

  25. This Chanel is gorgeous!


    Carly's Closet

  26. Great tips! I've gotten a bunch of vintage clutches on Etsy.

    The Tiny Heart
    $50 Target Giveaway!

  27. These are great tips! I'd love to get my hands on a vintage bag one day. That Chanel bag is gorgeous!

    Style Diary

  28. Thanks for these great tips Mrs. C....I recently snagged a vintage purse after long hours of inspection, research & interview with the seller...hahhaha!!! But I will surely keep your tips on hand (& in my purse) all the time!!!


  29. what a wonderful blog dear, love it!

    Hope you can visit mine sometime :)



  30. All three of items are gorgeous and I would wear them today! You have beautiful taste.

    blue hue wonderland

    1. Thank you, Ann.. I've had these for a while. Never used the dress but planning to do so this spring/summer :)

  31. Great tips! I am a newbie with thrifting and the thought of wear and tear of such classic pieces being masked by shoe polish would never even have crossed my mind :s


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