Mod Monday- Tips for buying vintage clothing

I am pretty comfortable buying a antique/vintage piece of furniture. I got the mad skills/tips/insight handed down to me from generations of women in my family. My aunt is an antique dealer after all. But one thing I have never felt terribly comfortable buying is clothing. Don't get me wrong, I can pick out a gem, but sometimes I am a little rushed and can't try something on so I hold it up, and go "yea, I'm that size" then I get it home and WRONG, it is not the right size.
That is where my friend Angelica comes in (that's her up there in the vintage Pucci, jealous?). She is a master at buying vintage clothing and the last couple outings I have gone on with her, she has taught me some tremendous tips. So I asked Angelica to pass this knowledge on to you.

Without further ado... Angelica's tips:

Vintage shopping can be quite an ordeal for some of us. How many times have we vintage fashionistas uttered the phrase, "That would never fit me...women were just much smaller back then!" Well, women back then used cinchers, corsets, cone bras, and other undergarments meant to tuck and nip every little flaw. Now, let's be reasonable. Most of us simply don't find practicality in these things anymore. With fashion being more comfort-oriented these days, the vintage clothing can be constricting, matronly, gaudy, and really hard to shop for. So, I am offering a few tips to help make it easier!

1. A good seamstress is everything! Take the time to find yourself a trustworthy seamstress. Most vintage clothes can be altered to fit well, but it is essential that you find someone who has experience with vintage fabric and clothing, and can help you get the most out of your purchases. Often, a simple hem, shortening of sleeves, or widening of a neckline is all you need to modernize and freshen up a vintage frock. Which brings me to my next tip...

2. Use your imagination! Sometimes, vintage shopping requires you to think outside the box. Long, bulky dresses can be shortened, necklines can be altered, stains can be removed, buttons can be replaced, and rips in seams can be repaired. Re-styling is also an option for the more matronly, outdated vintage pieces. Again, a good seamstress can help in this department. If you love the fabric or pattern on a piece that is unwearable, it can be re-used to make something new, like a headband, a belt, jewelry...there are lots of possibilities!

3. Know your measurements! Vintage clothing sizes don't run the way modern sizes do. In fact, just ignore the sizes on the tags. Often, they don't reflect current sizing standards. It's essential to know your measurements (bust, waist, and hip), and to carry a tape measure with you when going shopping (this works great at estate sales, where there is no dressing room). This way, you can measure the garment, and know whether or not it will likely fit, saving you time in the dressing room. You can allow a little leeway for the more stretchy fabrics.

4. Bring a Good Friend! This is one of my favorite tips. Shopping with an extra set of eyes can be both useful and fun. You can give each other honest opinions on the fit and look of a garment, and advise each other on those super-hard decisions. Having a gal (or guy) pal with you that knows your style and dress habits can increase your chances of walking away with some great pieces, as well as walking away from a potentially unwise purchase!

So, what are your tips? Please share!

photo above taken by Rachael Laine 


  1. The measurements tip is so brilliant!! Definitely using that one from now on. Thanks Angelica!

  2. Years ago, vintage shops were few and far between. And Salvation Army and Goodwill were hit or miss. I used to buy alot of shirts and jackets off eBay. If anything thing showed up an didn't fit, or I didn't like it, I'd put back up for sale on eBay, sometimes making a few extra bucks off it. (and sometimes I'd use the original pics-- lazy)

  3. I think this is one of the most vital info for me. Actually, since I got 2 kids, I never go shopping to mall anymore, I usually check online looking for cheap clothes and accessories instead of searching through racks and racks of items at the mall. It's been so easy and comfortable since I don't have to carry my kids at all when buying clothes or any stuff I need.

    But anyway, your idea is outstanding; the issue is something that not enough people are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I stumbled across this in my search for something relating to this.


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