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Vintage Clothes: Tips for Pro Thrifting

a really cool vintage store with quirky colourful decor including clothes rails, mirrors,

Key Highlights

  • Get to know the various old-time periods and what makes each one special.

  • With vintage sizing, it's different from today's sizes, so learn how that works.

  • When looking at old clothes, figure out how to check if they're good quality and genuine.

  • Pick up some advice on spotting more valuable vintage items.

  • Learn the tricks of negotiating to make sure you get great deals.

  • Discover the best places for finding the best second hand pieces.

a cute, kitsch retro girl shopping in a funky vintage clothing store.jpg


Vintage clothes bring a special kind of magic you just can't get with today's fashion. Think about the classic beauty of the 1950s or the loud, eye-catching looks from the 1980s - each era has its own signature style. When you go thrifting for vintage pieces, it's like going on a treasure hunt where what you find not only carries stories from the past but also lets your unique personality shine through. If diving into second-hand fashion is new to you or if you're already in love with all things vintage, we are here to help. We'll share top tips for finding those one-of-a-kind items and how to negotiate prices like a pro. So, let’s get ready and jump right into exploring retro clothing together, featuring top picks from brands like Levi’s, Nike, and Burberry. Plus, with the option of worldwide shipping, you can expand your second-hand vintage collection from the comfort of your own home with our sustainable shopper checklist. Don't forget to check out our top brands section for even more vintage treasures!

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Top Tips for Thrifting Vintage Clothes Like a Pro

When you're out looking for vintage clothes at thrift stores, it can feel a bit like searching for treasure among endless rows of old stuff. To really nail your thrifting trips and find those awesome pieces from different eras, keep these tips in mind. For starters, get to know the various vintage eras because this knowledge will guide you toward the styles and trends that catch your eye. Then there's sizing - it's pretty important since what was considered "medium" back then might not match up with today's sizes. Also, take a good look at each piece to check if it’s truly high-quality and authentic; this way, you won't end up with fakes or damaged goods. Knowing how to spot the real valuable finds is another skill that'll help you choose wisely without wasting money on things that aren't worth it. And don’t forget about bargaining – getting skilled in negotiating prices can lead to amazing deals on thrifted items.

1. Know Your Vintage Eras

Vintage fashion covers a bunch of different time periods, each with its own special look and feel. Getting to know these vintage eras can really help you figure out the kind of styles and trends that catch your eye. In the 1950s, it was all about looking feminine with big skirts that showed off an hourglass shape. Then came the 1980s, which were all about bright colours, big shapes in clothes, and dressing like you mean business. The 1990s changed things up by bringing grunge into fashion along with slip dresses and comfy flannel shirts. By getting familiar with what makes each era unique, finding vintage pieces that match what you love becomes much easier.

2. Understand Vintage Sizing

When you're looking into vintage clothing, remember that the sizes can be pretty different from what we're used to now. Vintage pieces tend to be smaller than our current standard sizes. So, if a vintage item doesn't fit at first try, don't worry too much about it. Before buying anything, make sure you measure yourself and/or some clothing you already own and check those measurements against the seller's sizing details. It's also worth keeping your measurements handy so you can quickly see if something will work for you or not. And if by chance there's a piece of vintage clothing that catches your eye but isn’t quite right in size, remember altering is always an option to get that perfect fit. A simple Google search and you can find an alteration specialist in your area, simple changes are usually very inexpensive but give you a item that is perfectly tailored to you.

3. Inspect for Quality and Authenticity

When you're out looking for vintage clothing, it's key to really look at each piece closely. You want to check if they're in good shape and if they're the real deal. Look out for any spots, rips, or buttons that might be missing. It's okay if vintage items aren't perfect; just make sure whatever issues there are won't mess up how the item looks overall. Also, keep an eye out for labels or tags from the brand or designer. This can help you figure out if it's a genuine vintage piece and what it might be worth. Remember, true vintage clothing has this special quality and craftsmanship that makes it stand apart from newer copies.

4. Learn to Identify Valuable Finds

Finding the best vintage clothes while thrifting can be really exciting. To get good at spotting these gems, there are a few things to keep in mind. First off, search for pieces that everyone wants right now, like stuff from famous designers or cool looks from past decades. With customer reviews and ratings in hand, you can figure out if something's truly worth it or not. Also, think about getting mystery boxes or bundles; they're often packed with valuable finds but won't break the bank. And don't hesitate to chat with sellers for extra details or try your luck at bargaining. Sometimes, putting in a bit of effort leads you straight to those amazing vintage treasures waiting just for you. Most shop owners and sellers are really passionate about vintage and have a lot of experience and expertise. Be sure to capitalise on this and you may be surprised at the things you can learn or the treasures they can find for you!

5. Master the Art of Bargaining

When you're out looking for vintage clothes, knowing how to bargain can really come in handy. Here's some advice on getting good at it:

  • Before you start talking prices, make sure you know what similar items usually cost.

  • If you want several things from one seller, see if they'll cut you a deal for buying more.

  • Always be nice and friendly; making friends with the seller might help get a better price.

Bargaining is pretty standard when hunting for vintage treasures, so don't hesitate to haggle over prices. It adds an extra layer of excitement to discovering those special pieces.

Shopping Bags

Where to Find the Best Vintage Pieces


To snag the best vintage clothing, it's all about knowing where to start looking. Here are some of the top spots for finding those standout pieces:

  • At local vintage shops, charity shops, thrift stores and flea markets: These places are like gold mines for anyone into vintage. You can score some really unique items without spending a ton.

  • Through online vintage shops: Websites like My Vintage and Etsy have loads of options from all eras and ship all around the globe.

  • By keeping an eye on estate sales and auctions in your area: They often have collections of vintage clothes just waiting to be discovered.

        No matter which spot you pick, make sure you browse regularly and keep an open mind during your hunt. The perfect piece of vintage              might just pop up when you least expect it.

1. Local Thrift Stores and Flea Markets

When you head to local thrift stores and flea markets, you're in for a treat if you're on the hunt for vintage treasures. These places are like hidden treasure chests, filled with unique items that are hard to find anywhere else. While there, get ready to spend some digging time through piles and searching racks. It's worth exploring every corner and asking sellers about any specific vintage pieces they might have tucked away. Remember, finding something truly special takes patience but discovering that one-of-a-kind vintage item at such a good price compared to what it might cost in a fancy boutique is an unbeatable feeling.

2. Online Vintage Shops

Online vintage shops like Etsy are great places to find a bunch of different vintage clothing from sellers all over the globe, including the UK. With online shopping, you get the perk of checking out lots of options right from your couch, making it super easy and convenient. When you're browsing through these items, make sure to look at what other customers have said about the seller by reading their ratings and customer reviews. This helps you understand how trustworthy they are and if their vintage pieces are as good as they say. Also, take a close look at each item's description and pictures so you know exactly what you're buying. If there's something that isn't clear or if you want more details about an item, don't be shy—just ask the seller directly. And for even more convenience, check out online vintage clothing stores like My Vintage, where sustainability is at the heart of everything they do. With a wide selection of one-of-a-kind vintage gems, including branded sportswear and classic vintage styles from the UK and beyond, My Vintage makes it easy to add unique pieces to your wardrobe without leaving your home.

3. Estate Sales and Auctions

Estate sales and auctions are great places to hunt for unique vintage clothing, especially when you're on the lookout for something rare or fancy. These sales usually happen because someone is selling their stuff, including cool old clothes. To find these gems, a bit of homework and planning goes a long way. Keep your eyes peeled for estate sale announcements near you and make it a point to show up early; that's how you get first dibs on the best pieces. For those who like digging online or in person, auctions can be just as rewarding when hunting for vintage treasures. Just remember to decide how much you want to spend beforehand because it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of bidding.

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How to Care for Your Retro Finds


Taking good care of your vintage clothing is key to making sure they stay in great shape and last a long time. Here's how you can look after your vintage finds:

  • When it comes to washing and keeping vintage fabrics safe, always check the label for instructions, and think about hand-washing those really delicate items. For storing them, find a spot that's cool and dry without any direct sunlight hitting them; this helps avoid fading or damage.

  • If you come across any rips, loose threads, or buttons that have fallen off on your vintage clothes, fixing these issues yourself or getting help from an expert tailor can make a big difference. Doing so will not only prolong their life but also keep them looking sharp.

It’s important to remember that vintage pieces are often more fragile than new ones and need extra attention. By treating your vintage treasures with lots of love and proper care, you'll ensure they retain their special beauty for years ahead.

1. Washing and Storing Vintage Fabrics

Taking good care of vintage clothing is key to keeping it in great shape. If the item has washing instructions, always stick to them. When there's no guide on how to clean it, gently hand-washing or using a soft cycle in your machine is the way to go. Stay away from strong soaps and bleach because they're not friends with old fabrics. Once washed, either lay the piece flat for drying or use a padded hanger so it keeps its form.

For storing these vintage pieces, finding a cool and dry spot out of direct sunlight is crucial since sun rays can make colors fade and weaken the material over time. Wrapping them up in acid-free tissue paper or placing them inside garment bags helps shield against dust and bugs too. By following these steps for cleaning and storage, you'll help your vintage finds stay looking fresh for much longer.

2. Repairing Damaged Vintage Clothes

When you pick up vintage clothes, they might not be perfect and could show signs of being worn before. This doesn't mean you should give up on them. If there are any rips, stitches coming undone, or buttons that have fallen off your old-school items, fixing them can make a big difference. With just a needle and thread, many small tears and loose threads can easily be mended at home or by dropping them off with someone skilled in tailoring. For those missing buttons? You can look for ones from the same era to keep its vintage vibe going strong or find new ones that still fit the garment's look pretty well. By putting in some effort to mend these issues with your vintage finds, you're helping ensure they stay wearable and loved for plenty more years.

3. Preserving the Colour and Texture

To keep your vintage clothes looking bright and beautiful, it's important to handle them with care. When you need to wash them, using gentle soap and cold water helps keep the colors from fading. It's better to air-dry or use a low heat setting if you're using a dryer so that the fabric doesn't get damaged. If your clothing is really delicate, washing by hand is usually the safest way to go. Storing these items in places where they can breathe but are still protected from dust and too much light will help keep them in good shape. Make sure to take them out once in a while for some fresh air; this keeps away any musty smells and keeps everything feeling new. Some materials like silk or lace might need even more careful handling if you want them to last as long as possible. By following these tips, you'll be able not only enjoy wearing your vintage treasures but also ensure they stay around for longer.

Image by Volha Flaxeco

Creating Modern Looks with Thrifted Clothes and Accessories

Mixing old-school vintage clothes with today's fashion is really about showing off the cool, everlasting appeal of these items and making them a part of your daily wear. Here are some ideas to help you look trendy using vintage pieces:

  • For starters, try combining clothes from different eras and styles. You could match an old-timey floral dress with a leather jacket for something new or pair up high-waisted jeans from the past with a modern crop top.

  • With accessories, you can really make your outfit stand out. Throw in a bold belt, grab a bag that looks like it came from another time, or put on some retro sunglasses to finish off your ensemble.

  • Also, don't hesitate to get inspired by style icons and famous people who love wearing vintage stuff. Websites like Pinterest are awesome for finding cool ways to mix old fashions into what you wear every day. By following these suggestions when putting together outfits, you'll be able to show off unique looks that truly represent who you are.


1. Mixing Eras and Styles

To really make a statement with vintage clothes, try mixing different times and looks together. For example, you can match the old-school charm of retro pieces with something modern to create an outfit that's all about showing off your own style. Think about wearing a dress from the 1950s and adding some today's accessories to it or putting on an old band t-shirt with some cool denim jeans for a new take. It’s all about bringing back those good old vibes while keeping up with what’s in fashion now. Letting your imagination run wild by combining items from various eras is key to developing a look that screams individuality.

2. Accessorising Vintage Outfits for Individuality

To really bring out that old-school vibe in your look, think about adding some cool accessories. By picking retro stuff that goes well with what you're wearing, you can show off a bit of who you are. Think about using bold items like old-timey jewelry, scarves, or hats to make your outfit pop. With pieces from various times in history, mix things up to put together something truly special that's full of vintage charm. Don't forget to try out belts, bags, and shoes for a complete look inspired by the past but still totally you. Dressing up in vintage clothes and accessorising them right lets your personality shine while nodding to the good ol' days' nostalgia. Let yourself get creative with the accessories you choose.

3. Incorporating Vintage into Everyday Wear

Try mixing a classic vintage blouse with some trendy jeans to give your everyday style a fresh spin. With the addition of an old-school accessory, such as a scarf or belt, you can really bring that sense of vintage charm into your look. By combining pieces from different eras, you'll end up creating an outfit that's uniquely yours, perfect for any special occasion. Don't hesitate to play around with various retro items; it's all about expressing your individuality through what you wear. Embrace the nostalgia and make those vintage clothing choices work for you in a way that keeps things cool and stylish.

Trying On Clothes


Looking for old-school clothes can be super fun, like going on a treasure hunt! To ace it, get to know the different eras, how sizes work back then compared to now, and check for quality and damage. You can find cool stuff at local shops, online stores, charity shops and auctions. Once you've found your treasures, take care of them by washing carefully, fixing them up gently if needed and keeping their old-time charm alive. Mixing pieces from various eras with modern accessories can look awesome too. Vintage items have their own stories and really make your outfits stand out. Don't forget to show off your great finds on social media; it might encourage others to start looking for their own stylish thrifted pieces!

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes clothing officially "vintage"?

When we talk about "vintage clothing," we're referring to clothes that have been around for at least 20 years. This includes items from various times in the past, like the 1950s, 60s, 70s, and even stuff from the 80s and 90s. Many people love it because it is unique, special and evokes nostalgia or characteristics of certain eras. On top of that, choosing pre-loved is good for our planet since it encourages reusing old things instead of always buying new ones, which helps cut down on waste created by mass-produced fashion.

What are the benefits of buying vintage clothes?

Buying vintage clothes allows you to own unique pieces with character, quality craftsmanship, and timeless style. It's environmentally friendly by promoting sustainability through recycling, and it also offers a chance to express individuality and stand out from mainstream fashion trends.

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Have a look at some of our other vintage clothing and fashion history articles - Top 10 Vintage Dresses

If you enjoyed reading this article, please take a look at our vintage clothing blog

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