Vintage Shop Like a Pro With These 5 Tips!
There’s a philosophical theory called Occam’s Razor. It states that the simplest solution is always the best. I first heard this theory over 20 years ago and it’s always stuck with me. I just love it!
We live in a very complicated world and in an effort to make sense of it we bend and twist ourselves into knots. But Occam is like “Keep it simple stupid”, albeit in Middle English.
As I’ve gone deeper and deeper into the world of ethical fashion, I find myself facing questions with seemingly no right answers. Do I buy vegan or shop from a women’s collective that uses leather? Do I buy local or support people in developing countries? These moral conundrums have been driving me crazy for the last few months. I’ve stayed up late at night going back and forth trying to decide if it’s better to value people over animals or animals over the environment or environment over people or….you see what I mean? It’s crazy making.
And then….I remembered good ol’ Occam’s razor. What is the simplest solution to the problem of fast fashion?
It’s the perfect (simple) solution for every type of ethical fashionista. Are you a newbie and don’t know where to start? Buy second-hand. Are you an expert and really want to up your game? Buy second hand. On a budget? Love brand names? Want to shop local? Second-hand. Second-hand. Second-hand.
Buying second-hand scares a lot of people. Heck it scared me for a long time! But never fear, I’m going to share with you my ultimate tips for buying vintage clothing like a pro! And if you need any inspo on how to blend new and old fashion check out my week of outfits for The Good Trade here.
Throw Out Your Game Plan
This feels counter-intuitive, but trust me if you walk in wanting a black cardigan, you’ll walk in to find a sea of pink ones. You never know what a particular shop might have, so keep an open mind and let the clothes speak for themselves. When we shop conventionally we can search for exactly what we want, but that’s the fun of thrifting, you never know what you’re going to get!
Know What You Want (kind of)
Ok I lied you have to have a little bit of a game plan. I like to walk into a store knowing the category of clothing I’m in the mood for. Do you want a dress or a t-shirt? Then you can go to that section first and not worry about the rest of the store. This eases me into the shopping experience. If I take in the whole store at once I get overwhelmed and it’s no fun.
Take a Closer Look
Once you’ve found an item you like inspect every inch of it. Is there major damage? Are the buttons still secure? Pull gently at the seams and see if the thread holds up. Some wear and tear is easily fixable others require a hefty investment of time and money. Be honest with yourself how much work you’re willing to put into this piece.
The Rub Test
Once I like the style and the fiber, I give it the rub test. I take a sleeve and rub it against my neck and my wrists. How does it feel? Does it itch? These are our most sensitive areas and I know no matter how beautiful a piece is it will sit in the back of my closet if I get even a hint of an itch. I also stop and think of its breathability. Am I going to sweat to death in this? Think about where and how you’ll be wearing the item. Does it work for your lifestyle?
Does It Go With My Closet
This is the final and most important test. Before I buy a piece I ask myself does this make sense with my closet? Can I picture at least 3 different ways to style this with items I already own? This keeps your look cohesive and lets you seamlessly add a piece to your wardrobe with minimal fuss. If I can’t think of how I would style it back in the rack it goes.
Pretty simple, huh? What are you favorite tips to master vintage shopping?