Sorry for the late blog post on this topic, in the retail world we are in full holiday mode already. It’s been challenging to find the time between work and mom life to blog. You all asked for it and I wanted to deliver, my guide to shopping second hand and vintage fashions.
If you follow me on Instagram you saw how over the course of a week in October I found myself vintage shopping and styling second hand fashions. I am by no means an expert at shopping this way and in all honesty I find it somewhat overwhelming at times. I even feel my inner germaphobe come out when shopping this way too. I have to admit in the fashion world there is a lot of waste happening and it is crazy to see how top brands like Burberry and Louis Vuitton waste each year in fabric and hardware alone. In an attempt to lower my carbon footprint I’ve decided to challenge myself to start styling and shopping reusable fashions such as thrift and vintage goods. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not doing a complete 180. I do love new and shiny things but sometimes it doesn't hurt to look second hand when searching for that must have item of the season.
Tip #1: Recognize second hand/ vintage shopping is not my number one way to shop. Meaning I don’t JUST go to thrift and vintage shops when adding to my wardrobe. I like to pull pieces from many brands high and low to add to my wardrobe collection. Now I’m adding thrift stores and vintage shops to my list. By keeping this mindset I stay very selective on what I'm looking for, the goal is quality not quantity.
Tip #2: When I am getting ready to go consignment shopping I make a list. This sounds so simple but, it’s one thing I realized I never do when shopping for my wardrobe. I got this advice from a fellow blogger I follow @uptownwithellybrown. She discussed when shopping sales many people shop because an item is on SALE with no knowledge of if it's actually a good deal or just the rush of the sale. That’s why for big sales like Nordstrom or Shopbop she has her go to list of pieces she really wants to add to her wardrobe. I’ve adapted this same practice and I’ve started an ongoing list myself. The list includes classic items I’m always on the look out for no matter where I shop, like a brown leather moto jacket, great vintage cut tees, and a classic pair of brown or black riding boots. It also includes trendier items like suede or leather jackets or skirts. Then finally there is the high end list saved for vintage shopping which includes my iconic must have pieces from top designers like a handbag from Chanel or dress from Carolina Herrera. Keeping a list keeps you focused and less overwhelmed. It also brings attention to a pattern in your shopping must haves. For instance I’ve realized I’m always on the lookout for really great jackets, dresses, and handbags/accessories.
Tip #3 It is important to know your product. This is why second hand/ vintage shopping is daunting to me because I feel I lack the knowledge of quality products. I do however surprise myself, because I know more than I think. Who cares if I tuned out after the lesson on diamonds in Product Knowledge class in college, being immersed in the industry and studying in it, I know top brands and what they are worth. I also know fabrics and I can spot good quality vs bad. If you find you are not or were not a fashion student find a buddy who was in order to help you gain knowledge. My aunt studied fashion as well. She is so knowledgeable when it comes to shopping second hand/ vintage, she is my go to girl. If you can’t find a buddy message me and I’d love to help! You can also check out my favorite second hand shopper Emily Roggenburk. She designs local Cleveland Apparel with a “One of a Kind” line where she re-purposes thrifted goods. Her insta-stories are total thrift shopping inspiration.
Tip #4: Not everything should be thrift/vintage shopped. These are items I stay away from when shopping second hand. The first are bottoms. Shopping for new jeans or pants can at times be depressing and always a struggle. Literally post baby every bottom fits differently. I have pants from a size 8 - 12 in my wardrobe. I know my fit and where to shop it and that's where I draw the line. The second item is shoes. I have a thing with feet, this is where my inner germaphobe comes out. I cannot and will not wear previously owned shoes it grosses me out too much. Lastly, sweaters, I’ve noticed there is a lot of wear and tear and pilling that happens to previously worn sweaters. It’s difficult to find a quality second hand sweater so I tend to skip those items.
Tip #5: Another thing I do is always size up! If you love something and it's one size too big that is an easy fix. You can get many items tailored in to fit your body. I do this with a lot of dresses, even the first hand items I buy.
Lastly, all bets are off during a clothes swap. For those of you who have never participated in a clothes swap it is a crazy, exciting experience. I recently attended one in Cleveland hosted by Cleveland Vibes to help raise money for A21 a non profit that fights against child slavery and human trafficking. It was a big turn out with a lot of women and a lot of clothes. It was a frenzy of “shopping” second hand. It reminded me of the sample sales I used to attend in NYC. When ransacking tables and racks of merchandise while others rummage around you, you tend to forget my tips of advice. if you see something you may like you grab and go, you can sort through and throw back later. Don’t waste time perusing the items because you may miss out on some good finds. When participating in a big clothes swap grab what you think you may like and use my five tips when editing your finds after. It was a really fun experience and I came away with four great pieces, two of which I’ve styled in this blog post!
I hope my guide to second hand and vintage shopping helps you during your adventures into shopping thrift/vintage. I might not be a pro although the more I do it, the more I learn what to look for and what to stay away from. I think with most things it takes practice and if you ever have any questions feel free to comment below and I’d love to help you out when entering the world of second hand shopping!