For us, vintage shopping is not a fashion; it’s a way of life. With the amazing Portobello Market right on our doorstep, we have the chance to hand-select the most amazing pieces for our Style by Portobello vintage subscription boxes every month.
But not everyone is as familiar with vintage as we are. We know that shopping for vintage fashion isn’t always easy so here are some tips to help you get started.
1. First, Understand the Meaning of Vintage
Some shoppers confuse vintage with ‘thrift’ or second-hand. Vintage clothing is second-hand but it’s something that is considered as special and a true representation of a decade past. So just because something has been worn by someone else previously, doesn’t make it ‘vintage’. So when looking for real vintage, look for an item which has real cultural significance.
2. Know Where to Find the Best Vintage Shops
We love Portobello Market because it’s simply the best vintage market in the country. But there are plenty of other places to shop for vintage including Camden Lock, Old Spitalfields Market, Shoreditch in East London, Stoke Newington in North London, the Corn Exchange in Leeds, The Northern Quarter in Manchester, and the Digbeth area in Birmingham. Finding the best places to shop will make your vintage search so much easier. Or you can sign up to our Style by Portobello subscription box for gorgeous vintage accessories delivered to your door every month!
3. Get to Know the Decades
The fashion of each decade is unique and that’s what makes vintage clothing so incredibly special. Many vintage shoppers find that they have a particular interest in certain eras or their body shapes work well in other eras. Get to know the tell tales signs of each decade (eg: polka dots and tea dresses in the 50s, miniskirts and monochrome in the 60s, flares and boho in the 70s) and you will become an expert in spotting vintage items in no time.
4. Look for Quality
Vintage clothing has stood the test of time and the quality is something we don’t see so much with modern throwaway fashion. Our high streets simply can’t compare to vintage quality – but you have to know what you’re looking for. Always look for any rips and tears in clothing as this can be a common characteristic with vintage items, especially in the lining of coats. Just remember, wear and tear is to be expected and if you’re concerned just ask the seller whether it would be easy to repair.
5. Learn How to Care for Vintage Clothing
If in doubt, always ask your seller about care guidelines. Some vintage items should be dry-cleaned and others may benefit most from being washed gently by hand. If your vintage item has a musty vintage smell (sometimes they do!), there are specialist cleaning services which can help. Other people like try-at-home methods such as distilled white vinegar, baking soda, charcoal or vodka. But we definitely recommend getting advice from garment cleaning experts.
6. Remember Sizing Isn’t Going to be Perfect
Women’s sizing has changed dramatically over the years so always try an item on. If you really like an item but it doesn’t fit you, consider getting it altered to favour your shape and size. But just remember, a lot of vintage clothing is worn for the ‘oversized’ or ‘boyfriend’ look so the perfect glove-like fit shouldn’t be something to look for necessarily. You can also cinch things in at the waist with a belt or roll up sleeves if they are too long for you.