It seems that everyone loves vintage, but not everyone knows hot to shop for the right vintage pieces. Not sure where to start? A little knowledge and preparation goes a long way when rocking a retro a vibe. We’ve pulled together our top three rules — a simple guide to buying the best in vintage styles.
Check the label, but ignore the size
Get to know your favorite vintage designers. It doesn’t have to be Chanel or Dior, focus on what you like — Victor Costa, Hilo Hattie, Jordache, Lacoste and more — know what you like and what you can afford. Check the “Made In” tags as well. Made in China? Probably not vintage. Hong Kong or Dominican Republic? Not you’re talking true vintage. Even better, learn your Union tags. While clothing is rarely targeted to a single year, a specific Union tag can give you a really good idea of when, and possibly where, the garment was made.
Finally, always remember that sizes vary from year to year and decade to decade. As the years have passed, measurements have increased. If you are a modern 8, you could be a 60s 12 and even a 50s 14. Best suggestion? Eyeball it and try it on. Many of my clients pick dresses off the rack that may be several sizes off their true size. Trying it on is the only way to be sure.
Look the garment over carefully
No matter how well maintained a vintage garment may be, it is — still — a garment that is 40, 50 or perhaps 60 or more years old. Do yourself a favor. Check the hems, the seams, the zippers, the hooks, the buttons and so on. Is there staining around the armpits, the neckline, the back or other places you may not immediately look?
Is the garment ready to wear or will it need repair? If it needs repair, are you willing to invest the time and money necessary to get it street-ready? Vintage garments are often well made and constructed to last a lifetime. Some just may need a little more help than others. Be realistic with the garments needs — and yours.
Talk to the staff
While not always true, most of our favorite vintage spots are staffed by people who live and breathe vintage. Never heard of Suzy Perette but LOVE the dress by her you’ve seen in the window? Why not ask the sales associate? If he or she knows vintage, they should be able to tell you everything you need to know about Suzy, one of the 20th century’s most undervalued designers.
Vintage shopkeepers also tend to know their own shops from every angle. Love the simple babydoll dress on the body form but not sure of the color? Check with the shop’s staff. Perhaps they have one in back that is similar, but closer to your ideal hue. You’ll never know unless you ask.
If you’d like to shop with Vince in person, check out his online calendar to find out when he’ll be in your area. You can also visit Vince’s shop at the Lovely Boutique in Orlando’s trendy Audubon Park neighborhood.