How to shop vintage: The VELVET ELVIS Method
|Recent and not so recent finds.. Top right "Valentines and Vitriol" by Rex Reed. Hollywood tell all c.1977 um.. YES PLEASE! Bottom center: 90's black silk blouse with REMOVABLE snake print collar.. HELLOOO NURSE!|
|Fun, eclectic and campy pieces can add unique touches to home or wardrobe. Some of my fav pieces collected over the years..|
Framed amature photgraphy. This was a part of a series of framed photos, I still kick myself for not buying all of them. 50 cents..
Giant thimble inscribed "Just a thimble full" holds my makeup brushes (instead of alcohol) and lives in my bathroom
L to R: vintage brass letter opener that I modefied into a necklace
Ivory and lapis chunky bangle. Ive seen identical in an antique store for $75, this was $10, Salvation Army. 90's gold mesh pouch necklace, perfect to hide special things in.
At least once a week, I get any of the following questions, "How do you find this stuff?" "Will you take me shopping?" or "Where did you get that?"... Inspired, I decided to do a blog post answering the question: "How to shop for vintage?"
Four years ago I decided to live an ENTIRE YEAR buying only thrifted and vintage goods. Newly single from a gnarly breakup, I felt like I needed to make a global difference somehow (small ones count!) and believe in something passionately. Buying used goods reduces the strain on the environment that the fashion industry induces. Its the second largest consumer of water in the world! And depending on where you shop, it can support some rad charities or local business owners. Plus it saves you a ton of money and in return you have unique pieces that has some history. I grew up thrifting, but over the last four years, I've learned a lot, made many mistakes and found some super scores to add to the collection!
I successfully made it a year, and kept going for another 6 months after that...
Thrifting isn't for everyone, it takes patience, creative vision, and drive. Below are my tips for a successful score from a thrift hunting mission...
Have a vision! Go in knowing what your looking for:
Find inspiration somewhere! Fashion is cyclical, so current trends now, can often times be found and expressed through vintage pieces for crazy cheap. 90's baby doll dresses, perfectly worn in cowboy boots, shrunken denim jackets, vintage ironic t shirts.. Give yourself a goal of what to look for, it will make the entire process less overwhelming and less time consuming. If I can't find it in 20 minutes, its not there.
Be prepared to hunt and dig to find gold:
Once you have your dream piece envisioned, you might have to look a little. I absolutely NEVER look at every single piece on a rack. My general goal is always any kind of leather, patterns, faded red, grey, or black t shirts. Unless it's something very specific, like an army green jacket or "Big Lebowski" inspired sweater, for example. These things can stick out pretty easily on a rack. Sections are almost always color coded which is super helpful. My typical plan of attack by section: Shoes, dresses, accessories, t shirts, then home stuff. My flight path is the same in every store but if Im in the mood, I'll wander around if I'm not looking for anything specific. Just depends. Also check the kids section, mens',large and x large racks too, I've found some goodies hidding in these places as well..
Check the labels:
An easy way to determine if something is vintage is by the label. Once you get good, then you can tell the decade stuff came from by the silhouette or the material. You will start to see a lot of the same crappy labels from places like Walmart, Target, or JC Penny's. Companies mass produce clothing often times to look vintage and combined with the wear from the previous owner, so it can be dicey. If you're not sure a "general" rule of thumb, if it says: Made in China, don't buy it. I never really shop the denim section, only because I don't know much about denim history, but checking the label is definitely crucial here, so you dont end up wearing denim from the Walmart juniors department, swearin its vintage..
A lot of fashion lusts can be satisfied at the Salvation Army, and with a little creativity, you can DIY hideous things into statement pieces. Don't be afraid to make reasonable alterations to bring outdated stuff into the now. However, never make unrealistic goals, if it doesn't fit or is stained beyond reason, then DON'T BUY IT. Unless you are a 3rd generation seamstress or don't mind paying to have it professionally altered or cleaned, you will waste a lot of money trying to DIY stuff yourself if you don't know what you're doing. I've made this mistake countless times. Oh the things a Youtube tutorial could have saved....
Stores get donations all the time, so if a mission isn't fruitful, go again! Beginning of the week is best, generally people "spring clean" and donate on the weekends. Stores close to older or affluent neighborhoods chances are, will have higher quality items. Living in Las Vegas for 6 years, I've found some really dope Southwestern inspired pieces, and in its heyday, Vegas was a pretty glam place, which makes our thrift stores pretty awesome. On my days off, I set a budget, do a tour, and hit up my top three favourites. I've been known to go 4 times a week! Obsessed would be an understatement...
Don't be a wuss:
General life advice I'd say, but very relevant here. Germ a phobes need not apply, these items ARE USED, so know that, bring hand sanitizer, baby wipes, whatever, paws can get a little grimy after thrifting. Wear full coverage under garments for the dressing room and loose/tight fitting clothing to slip stuff over or under. Thrifting at flea markets sometimes offers minimal dressing room privacy. Also be prepared to mingle with weirdos either shopping or as employees, depending on the area the store is located. I've shopped along side some "interesting" ones in the past. Its nothing to freak out about, take a friend if you're concerned, because its no Barneys..
Explore Your Options:
There are many thrift store alternatives to Salvation Army, Goodwill, and Savers. I highly recommend Wasteland and Buffalo Exchange both places offer some amazing vintage but with a bit of a markup. Ive found some real gems and only paid dollars for them, so I PREFER the "hunters" method, but I've also paid retail for vintage things that I had to have.. Rose Bowl in Pasadena is also amazing, great idea for a road trip! Estate sales are cool places to snag vintage anything really for fairly moderate prices as well. Whichever suits you, there are vintage options for all! Happy Hunting!
ENSEMBLE DU JOUR
Jacket :: Vintage
Shirt :: Zara
Pants :: CURRENT/ELLIOTT
Belt :: Vintage
Boots :: Zodiac
Handbag :: CHANEL
All rings are vintage minus the over the knuckle spike ring. The super thin bangle is Marc by Marc Jacobs and the other is a Cartier inspired gold bangle that my Mum had made ages ago..
Photo Credit eatlovelivelove