Tips for Buying Vintage Designer Clothes

The word vintage originates from Old French vendage meaning “wine harvest” and from Latin vindemia meaning “a gathering of grapes.” The term originally refers to the yield of grapes or wine from a vineyard or district during one season. Much like wine, vintage clothing refers to garments originating from a previous era representing the high quality of a past time. Vintage has been part of fashion since World War I as a novel idea of reusing clothing due to the textile shortages at the time.

“We are born at a given moment, in a given place and, like vintage years of wine, we have the qualities of the year and of the season of which we are born.” – Carl Jung

The era, or period in time, in which clothing is said to be vintage is specific but evolves with time. For example, antique clothing was manufactured before the 1920s and clothing manufactured from the 1920s to 20 years before the present day is considered vintage. Any clothing 20 years or older is thus considered vintage. Clothing becomes vintage with every year that passes. Therefore, clothing produced before 2008 is technically considered vintage. With this in mind, you may have some clothing in your closet that you didn’t know is actually vintage.

Today, dressing vintage encompasses choosing different clothing and accessories from a previous era, including mixing vintage garments with new garments for an ensemble of various styles and periods.

“I was preppy, then suddenly switched around age 14. I asked my mother to go to this vintage store, and she let me buy a leopard swing coat, pink cigarette pants, and lime-green gloves.” – Kate Spade

Generally speaking, vintage clothes sell at low prices for high-end brand names. You can find vintage clothing just about anywhere, including local boutiques or charities (Goodwill and the Salvation Army), and online. A small number of vintage pieces have not been worn and are more valuable than those that have been worn, especially if the clothing has original tags attached. Vintage clothing may also be either produced commercially or handmade, adding to their value and appeal.

“I love vintage shopping, I think it's really fun. And I love the feeling of finding the most amazing piece for less.” – Emma Roberts

Re-wearing clothes from family, friends, or your personal wardrobe can be nostalgic and create a sense of familiarity in a time that is rapidly changing and becoming increasingly impersonal. Vintage clothing is a silent and stylish protest to a fast moving world and allows you to either vicariously live a previous story or create your own.

“One of the things that attracts me to vintage and antique things is they have stories, and even if I don't know the stories, I make them up.” – Mary Kay Andrews

Stepping into a story or creating your own through fashion can prove difficult, especially considering all the nuances of shopping vintage such as size, price, or finding the right pieces from a particular era. But don’t worry; we’ve put together a list of tips for buying vintage designer clothes to help you put together the right outfit and tell your own story.

Tip #1 Inform yourself

Visit the local library or search the web for the right era of vintage clothing you want to wear. Inform yourself on the different styles of vintage throughout the decades and learn the history behind the fashions and people who wore them. Knowing what style, color, or cut belongs to what era can help you organize your wardrobe and shopping spree. This way you won’t accidentally miss match eras unless you are attempting to do so purposefully. Pulling off the right vintage look from head to toe can be fun and rewarding. Capture a moment in history by researching the past and others who have worn or currently wear vintage clothing. You may be surprised at what you find, and the discoveries can make your vintage transformation more meaningful.

Tip #2 Check the garment for imperfections

Get into the habit of thoroughly examining vintage clothes for holes or stains by holding garments up to the light. This will allow you to see imperfections or repairs that need to be made. You may also spot patches where the fabric has become thin and delicate. For woolen clothing, make sure to check the elbows as they tend to see excessive wear. Turn clothing inside out and perform another light check; making sure to revise pocket, seams, and stitching. As a good rule of thumb, be sure to always check the armpits.Sweat can damage fabric due to the acidic qualities of perspiration, especially before the days of deodorant.

The structure and durability of a garment is also important so that it lasts well beyond its era. While examining vintage clothing be sure to check that none of the buttons are missing and the zippers work properly. Buttons are relatively easy to fix, but zippers require more work and cost more to repair. Check fastening also, major areas to examine are around the neckline and around the cuffs as small buttons may be hidden under these areas. Keep in mind that you can ask for a discount if you find flaws. Simple flaws and repairs are fine but don’t get stuck with a piece that requires altering beyond washing or sewing as repairs can cost more than the garment itself and may not fix the problems. Because vintage clothing tends to be old, washing can fray or thin the fabric, consider hand washing with gentle soap and cold water.    

Tip #3 Ask Questions

If you have doubts or need more information to make a sound purchase, don’t be afraid to ask the sales associates questions, especially if you are searching for a specific era or place of origin. Often vintage clothing store employees are very knowledgeable of their inventory and dress in vintage clothing themselves. They can help you narrow down your search by eliminating or recommending pieces specific to your needs. A good vintage conversation can turn into a learning experience and provide confidence in your vintage shopping.

Take your shopping a step further by developing a relationship with the shop associates or owner as they can keep you informed on the latest arrivals and special pieces hidden in the back, saved for the right customer. Most vintage merchants are passionate about their line of work and are happy to talk about anything vintage.

Tip #4 Size doesn’t matter

Sizes vary with time and place and can be completely different from those of today. Body shapes have changed over time and so have sizing charts. Women were generally shorter and curvier years ago, learn to ignore the label and instead visit the changing room to see if the dress fits. Keep in mind that you can always alter a size that doesn’t quite fit your body but fits your wardrobe perfectly. Buy it and alter it, wear it and share it with the world of vintage.

Tip #5 Understand the difference between vintage and thrift

While you may find vintage garments in thrift stores, you won’t find thrift items in a vintage store. Vintage clothing is a specialty; it denotes a period in history, a style and a feeling that has stood the test of time. True vintage clothing is timeless and evokes a sense of cultural significance thrift items do not possess. A few differences between vintage and thrift clothing include details that existed before the mid-1960s such as metal zippers, side-snap closures, saw-toothed edges, and union labels printed in blue.
Image of vintage silk scarves, jewellery, bags, and gloves.

Vintage Fashion Trends to Wear in 2018

Every year new fashion trends hit the scene, and many people make resolutions to realize their fashion hopes and dreams. The popular mantra, “new year, new you” makes its annual appearance, but a “new you” doesn’t require new clothing. Defining yourself doesn’t have to be limited to the current year or the current style, take advantage of decade’s worth of fashion trends to create your own 2018 personality with the following vintage fashion trends to wear.

The year begins with winter months that require warm and comfortable clothes. One trend making a comeback is the oversized sweater popular in the 90s. While “frumpy” may have been the name of this style, it’s definitely on the rebound and gaining more followers. Other comfy trends include vintage designer coats such as denim bomber jackets, plaid blazers, and faux fur.

Along with coats to keep you warm, vintage designer scarves add a colorful touch of flair and enhance your outfit. Draping a scarf correctly can change an entire outfit and can make you look the part, or period, you are after. The beautifully crafted silk scarves of yesterday are timeless and evoke a sense of elegance. Designers such as Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Burberry offer the vintage look to complement your outfit and upgrade your wardrobe. Vintage scarves come in many fabrics and styles, from wool paisley scarves to 1940s cotton floral prints, you’re sure to find the right scarf for the right occasion.

Nothing quite compliments a vintage outfit like a vintage bag or purse to conjure up an aura of a bygone era. Among the most popular and sought after is Fendi vintage – exotic crocodile skins, monogram finishes, and emblazoned FF branding are the ideal accompaniment to your vintage look.

Make this year your very best vintage year yet. Remember the origins and history of vintage clothing next time you're out shopping and run through the tips we’ve provided to make sure your closet is up to date (or out of date), and your shopping experience is a positive and rewarding endeavor.

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The Chic Selection is your sustainable marketplace with the finest selection of authentic vintage and pre-owned European luxury designers from the most reliable second-hand boutiques in Europe and in North America. Most of these consignment boutiques have no e-shop therefor The Chic Selection chose to build for them a dedicated  platform giving them a chance to be part of the internet world. The Chic selection offers used, nearly new, rare or limited edition of luxury goods such as handbags, shoes, accessories, watches, jewelry and apparel from brands like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermes, Goyard, Gucci, Christian Louboutin, Balenciaga, Balmain, Bottega Venetta, Cartier, Céline, Chloé, Christian Dior, Emilio Pucci, Fendi, Givenchy, Lanvin, Alaia, Balenciaga and Saint Laurent. The Chic Selection guarantees 100% double authenticity through the experienced knowledge of the boutiques’owners as well as The Chic Selection’s team and experts. More than a website, The Chic Selection founder’s new vision goes beyond the business itself to widespread social betterment, planet care and financing our world’s tragedies through donations that will only be possible with your purchases. All trademarks that show on The Chic Selection site are the property of their owners. The Chic selection is not affiliated with the brands that are being sold but each article is guaranteed authentic by The Chic Selection or a full refund is given .

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