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How to Shop Vintage Like a Pro


It’s no secret that scouring vintage in-store or online is every fashion girl’s go-to way to pick up standout, one-of-a-kind pieces that make any outfit look extra fab—but what about the shopping strategies that help you find those super-cool vintage pieces in the first place? We got the inside scoop from Shareen Mitchell, owner of the NYC and LA vintage boutique Shareen, about the secrets to vintage shopping like a pro.

Look for the classics

When it comes to vintage shopping, it can be difficult to determine which pieces to buy vintage, as opposed to which you should buy new. Should you stick to on-trend items, or go with the classics? What are good vintage investment pieces? Mitchell says it’s all about the classics.

“Anything that would be considered a classic, timeless piece like a blazer, a pea coat, a classic shaped dress—those you can buy vintage and they will look like the very best designs today,” Mitchell says.

There are certain items that never go out of style, and these classic pieces can easily be bought vintage because they translate seamlessly to today—and every girl needs some timeless basics in her closet. Buying classic pieces like an LBD, blazer or coat is also a foolproof way to avoid the “costume” look that some vintage pieces have.

Some eras work better than others

If you do want to buy a trendier item, paying attention to what era an item is from can make a world of difference when it comes to what works today, and what could end up looking costume-y. Mitchell says that certain eras are much more relevant to current trends than others.

“Things that were made from the '50s through the '70s or anything from the '90s translates best to today,” Mitchell explains.

With the exception of the intricately beaded dresses from the 1920’s, it is generally much more difficult to make anything from the 1940’s or earlier look relevant to today. Likewise, Mitchell advises that anything from the 1980’s doesn’t translate well to current trends. What does work? We love mod 1960’s dresses, classic coats and blazers from the 1970’s, and 1990’s grunge-inspired pieces, which are super on-trend right now!

Shopping online? Measure, measure, measure.

Prefer vintage shopping from the comfort of being curled up in bed with your laptop? Mitchell advises that you get familiar with your waist measurements.

“I think fit issues are really the biggest issue in regards to vintage shoppers online,” she says. “It’s really important to learn how to measure your waist; unless it’s jersey or polyester, vintage sizing is related to the waistline.”

It’s a great idea to take a quick second to break out that tape measure, collegiettes! When measuring your waist, measure at the narrowest part of your body, below your ribcage and above your belly button. Once you know your measurements, make sure to ask the seller for measurements before ordering something, so you know exactly what to expect when you pull on your new find for the first time!

DIY is your BFF

When it comes to the dressing room, never rule anything out just because you don’t love it at first sight—small details can easily be changed with a little DIY! Mitchell says that the craftier you are, the better when it comes to vintage shopping—even if it’s something as simple as cutting the dress to shorten it.

“Most vintage dresses are too long; you’re not going to want to wear them past your knee,” Mitchell says. “If you take a sixties dress and cut it short, you’re going to love wearing it with a pair of boots, and it will look modern.”

Other ways you can DIY your vintage finds? Mitchell also suggests cutting the sleeves off a fur jacket to turn it into a vest, since the fur hides edges of the vest if they aren’t sewn.

Keep current trends in mind

It seems counterintuitive, but paying attention to current trends can help you make better purchases when vintage shopping. That way, what you do buy blends seamlessly with the rest of your wardrobe, and you avoid pieces that may look too much like a costume.

“I think the most important thing is to look for something that’s relatable; something that doesn’t make you look like you’re in a movie based in the 1960’s,” Mitchell says. “If you’re more educated about what’s on trend, the better of a vintage shopper you are.

Next time you head out vintage shopping, try bringing along some of your favorite runway looks. The cool rocker vibe of the S/S 2015 Saint Laurent collection? It’s easy to achieve that look with some 1970’s pieces like a vintage leather jacket or a flowy boho dress!

Vintage shopping is a great way to add unique and one-of-a-kind pieces to your wardrobe, collegiettes! Do you have any favorite vintage finds in your closet?

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