vintage here, vintage there: how i do vintage

January 17, 2011

vintage here, vintage there
vintage here, vintage there
Today’s topic is buying, finding, spending on vintage. Liking and buying vintage is no easy feat. It does take work and patience, but I think it is definitely worth it. I think the whole fun about it is that you really never know what you will find!
I have mentioned before that I don’t really find a whole lot thrifting here in southern California (though other southern californians may have better luck), but sometimes I do occasionally hit the jackpot. I have been hitting a whole lot of jackpot when it comes to shoes, but sadly not in my size, so some of my friends will be getting some pretties soon.
First off, vintage sizing is tricky. Elsie wrote an article here that will help you figure out sizing for yourself. Also, I know my measurements (and Ben’s), so I always carry measuring tape in my purse just in case. When it comes to clothes, it is also important to know what is best for your body type. For example really loose, straight dresses typically don’t look right on me. I need dresses that give me definition at my waist, thus 40’s and 50’s dresses are best and that is what I lean towards. If it is a straighter style, usually adding a belt gives me the waist definition I need. So research you body type and figure out what flatters you and makes you feel good! Trust me, I was doing all kinds of funny phrased searches on google to help me figure out what would look right on me!

Let’s start with thrifting…

vintage here, vintage there
The dress on the left was found just last week, but it was at a thrift store that knew its stuff and so it was in a little “boutique” section and priced at $24, but lucky for me it was half off day, so I snagged it for $12. I never find pretties like this for myself at the thrift store, so I happily bought it. The golden dress on the right was a vintage dress that I found at the thrift a couple years ago here in California and I think I paid $4! I still always look cause you never know, but it is very rare for me to find something. I am hoping that luck changes! I did find a bit more in Texas over the holidays and I didn’t pay more than $3 for each dress (it was half off day).
On the other hand, when it comes to vintage sweaters, I have pretty darn good luck! The brown and kelly green ones were so great at $3.00 each! On the other hand, the coral one, which was obviously hand knit, was in the “boutique” section and cost $10, but it was too pretty to leave behind.
vintage here, vintage there
Thrift stores also like me when it comes to vintage kid sweaters. This is just a little stash that I found last week and cost no more than $1.50 each. Though, I do come home with a little load of kid sweaters, I never come home with thrifted vintage kid dresses or shoes (that day will be a dream come true). Those are so rare to find at the thrift stores I go to!
vintage here, vintage there
That leads me to antiquing and vintage shops…
vintage here, vintage there
So if we want a sure way to find vintage, we go to the flea market, brick and mortar vintage shops, and antique malls. You pay a bit more as someone has done the searching for you, but usually you can find some really unique and pretty pieces. Ben actually gives up on thrifting cause he can never find anything (though last week I came home with two winners for him), so her prefers brick and mortar vintage shops and paying a bit more because he is usually able to find something there!
Though it is obvious in this space that I love clothes and love to shop, I do have to really be smart with money. On paper, the fact that I am a stay home mom doesn’t make sense, actually Ben’s co-workers are baffled that we are able to do so, but we are just pretty good at budgeting. I think it works to our advantage that during the whole time we have been married, only one person worked, so we learned to always live on one income (the first year of marriage, I worked as ben finished grad school, the rest of time, he has and I stay home). Staying home and being mom has always been my dream job, so once we had kids, we just made it work financially. When I finally opened my shop and was really working at it, it really helped us a lot, but since having three kids now, I am not able to devote as much time to sewing and maintaining my shop, thus a little shop of old pretties will be coming soon. Buying vintage still allows me to do some shopping, but not break the bank and stay within the budget.
Anyways, back to the topic on hand, so as far as dresses at the shops, I usually have spent from $5 (I always look through the bargain bin, which the above left dress came from) to my most of $40, which is this dress and one of my faves. It’s from the 1930’s and was in perfect condition, so I was surprised to see it for such a low price! In the picture above, the lace dress on the right was $12 at an antique shop, but has some issues that need to be sewn! If you sew, that helps open up the possibility of vintage dressses, because if something is too long, like they often are for short people like me, you can hem it. If something is too wide, you can take it in! So when looking for pieces, don’t only limit yourself to things that fit you exactly, buy bigger and make it fit!
I see a lot of pretty stuff for a lot more ($50-$150), but that is realistically not in my budget. I just ooh and aah at those dresses! If I were able to spend on them I would, because the pieces are so unique and usually in excellent condition. Though, Ben did surprise me for Christmas with a vintage dress that I was coveting at an antique shop that was $50 and out of my budget, so I didn’t buy it, but he went back and got it and surprised me!
One great thing about vintage, you know might spend more for something old and has been used before, but most of the time it is in pretty good condition and have stood the test of time, so you know you are getting good quality! Unlike some pretty things at some popular mall shops, they may be pretty and cheap, but the quality of the garment can wear out so quickly.
vintage here, vintage there
The two dresses on the end were found at the same antique shop and was a bit more, but were brand new with tags still attached! Imagine my excitement to find those! I think I paid $25 each and was so nervous to go home and tell Ben, but he liked them so much that he approved. The middle dress is one of my faves that have been passed down from each girl and I can’t wait for Soulie to wear it. It was found at the flea market for a nice little price tag of 8 buckaroos! Since True and Brave have gotten lots of wear out of it, I need to do a bit of mending before it gets to Soul, but overall it is still in wonderful condition.
Now onto etsy, my go-to place for vintage as I can always find something here…
vintage here, vintage there
There is so much pretty vintage on etsy that it could land you in trouble! The dress on the left was one I bought for the fabric, but it ended up fitting perfectly and so I couldn’t cut it up. That one had some issues with tiny holes and stains that it was $18, but it is perfect! I love the loved-in feeling of the dress and all the little issues. The dress on the right is another vintage favorite and I think was around $40. I haven’t worn it anywhere, but I will someday soon. I just gotta figure out where! Reasonably, for an excellent condition, vintage dress on etsy, expect to spend $40 and higher. It depends on the era and the style, stuff in the 30’s and 40’s can go for over $100! The green dress I am wearing at the top of this post is from the 1930’s and the details on it are amazing and it was so perfect, but it was a bit more than what I normally spend, but I really couldn’t resist (this was rare occasion). I just didn’t have the will power. If you love something, dish out the money (if you are able) cause you know it is a one of a kind thing and once vintage is gone, it’s gone! More than likely you won’t see another exactly like it.
vintage here, vintage there
For vintage kids dresses on etsy, I usually spend 8-15 buckaroos, which the left two dresses were in that price range, but the navy one on the right was more. It was vintage deadstock from France and cost $28, but it was so cool and great that I had to get it! I really don’t find any kids vintage stuff while at the thrifts, so I will happily buy on etsy. I don’t buy the girls dresses elsewhere (though places like target and old navy have great reasonable stuff and target is my go-to place for tights and leggings), so Ben does let me get them something from etsy once in awhile.
The wonderful thing about etsy is that it is a buy, trade, sell marketplace. So if you have a shop like me, sometimes you can ask another seller if they would be interested in a trade and sometimes they say yes and sometimes they say no! It doesn’t hurt to ask and I have gotten many wonderful things by trading! It feels like the good ‘ole days of bartering. Trades always make me excited! So, sometimes Ben will say, “You aren’t supposed to spend!” And I say, “I didn’t. I traded!” It helps scratch that shopping itch of mine!
Whew! Hope I didn’t lose you somewhere as this post was quite lengthy. If you have never worn or shopped vintage, give it a try! I have had only one horror story from buying vintage on etsy, but other than that, every other piece has been great! If you don’t have the patience or the luck with thrifting or hunting, etsy is your place to go! You may pay a bit more, but someone has already done all the hunting for you (and the hunting takes a lot of work and patience). There are so many wonderful shops fully stocked with one of a kind clothing that you could really get lost day dreaming about all the wonderful things and your money may get a bit lost purchasing!
tips when looking:
– know your measurements.
– be creative (sometimes if you just change the sleeves or the hem a bit, it looks like a whole new dress)!
– go hunting often.
– check the boys section (sometimes girl things get stuck there).
– examine the piece for holes and stains.
– check care labels (if you don’t want to spend money on dry cleaning, make sure it doesn’t need to be dry cleaned).
– always check the pits for armpit stains (cause sometimes those will never come off).
– be patient and have fun!
If you need some direction of where to look, I have some great sponsors who have pretty things you can check out (see sidebar). Also, always check ebay as I have found some good things there from time to time and at really great prices!
Head “over there” and read all about Rachel’s round up of how she buys and spends for vintage! I know she hits the jackpot at the thrifts in Missouri more often than I do here, so I can’t wait to read her take on this! If you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to ask us in the comment section.
p.s. my baby seester filled up her shop with vintage goodies, so check it out! she did such a swell job putting everything together!!!

23 comments on “vintage here, vintage there: how i do vintage”

  • is it weird that i remember favoriting (is that a word?) that little light blue dress on etsy and debated buying it? ๐Ÿ™‚ i always struggle with whether or not to buy things online when i can obviously find enough vintage to keep and sell, but what you say is true – if you LOVE it, snatch it up or it'll be gone! and there's something about knowing you own a one-of-a-kind piece that makes it so special!

  • vintage was the door way for the reason i went to fashion design school back in 1994. starting wearing it when i was 14 and never looked backed since then. Miami definitely has amazing vintage, my home town! My best finds have come from there..

  • I've enjoyed yours and Rachel's post on this so much. Thanks particularly for the tips about Etsy, I'm moving my own mini enterprise over there shortly and it's nice to know it is a good community

  • m says:

    oooh my goodness!! beautiful dresses!! i love the dress yellow!!!
    awesome wardrobe!!!

    lovely day!!!

  • Eleni says:

    What, no Ebay? Pretty much everything I own comes from Ebay! My friends have given up asking me where I buy things from because they know what I'm going to say! I actually prefer it to Etsy because there are more search parameters, so if I have something fairly specific in mind (like a pink cord pinafore dress in my size) it's ace. I also have a lack of cheap shops in my area, but plenty of over-priced boutiques (grrrr!). How did we ever cope without the internet, eh?

  • dearkeesha says:

    Ohhh I love the cream lace dress! You really do have some nice stuff.

    I agree with Eleni, ebay is also great for vintage, sometimes the prices are better than etsy too, but the people on etsy are so lovely that it always makes me want to buy from there.

    I also hate it when thrift stores realise they have stuff that people are looking for so they raise the price. Over here in Australia I've seen thrift store charge more than the original price because they know that it's something that is “in” at the moment and I think it's kind of dishonest. They do it with new clothes that are still in retail stores too.

  • Yes I love Vintage! main Reason why I opened my etsy shop. Vintage provides so many options and if you find the right shop, the tailoring and details of vintage pieces are AMAZING!

    Key to sizing= Measure yourself. Don't buy anything online if they don't provide the measurements. don't even rely on the sizes provided because size standards change each decade with fit and trends in mind.

    check out Avid Accents on etsy ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Dawn Trest says:

    thanks for sharing! I'm glad I'm not the only one who has trouble finding the good stuff while thrift shopping ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Rubyellen says:

    eleni & dearkeesha- ebay, how could i forget?!! i do check and buy there too but not as much as etsy. i added a little blurb in the post about it! thanks for reminding me!

  • ringmaster says:

    i just checked out your seester's shop and it looks beautiful!!!! ruby i need to take you to my spots in socal!!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Rubyellen says:

    heather- take me!!! wait. do you live in socal? i thought you lived up north!!! tell me! take me!!! please?!!!

  • ringmaster says:

    YES!!!! i thrift all over orange county from san clemente to la mirada and everywhere in between!!!! i have been thrift shopping since the early 90's here so i have seen the prices change drastically but there are still some good shops!!!!

  • Rubyellen says:

    share! we are going out today, any suggestions? wait. do you live down here? we should meet up!

  • ringmaster says:

    i will email you !

  • Rubyellen says:

    heather- can't wait!

  • RachelDenbow says:

    Oh, eBay! I've never purchased vintage from there but I hear it's another great source, especially for boy's clothing. I tend to feel more at home on Etsy for some reason so I think of it more often when looking for something new.

    Heather and Ruby! This looks like a beautiful thing!

  • lynxymama says:

    thanks for the shout out and the dress purchase, you're going to lOVE IT! can't wait for pics.


  • evie dear says:

    Great post! I've just started buying vintage – it's good to know how someone else approaches it. Love your style!!

  • Love your white boots! Are those vintage?

  • Artsy Momma says:

    I wish I could find more cute little boy vintage. I have had some luck but nearly as much as I do for his big sister!

  • Charlotte says:

    I maybe commented here already as well that as a So Cal girl, thrifting IS very difficult. My best luck tends to be at the Rose Bowl flea market- there is a seller there that has items for $5, $10, & $15, and I have found many many lovely items there. There are a few other vintage and thrift sellers there that have some great deals and others that tend to be spendy. But most dealers will negotiate! I recommend taking the trek to pasadena if you're not already versed in the vintage shopping there. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Tiffany says:

    Great post! I'm always curious to see the things you find on your thrifting trips!

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