One of my favorite childhood memories involves rummaging through the racks of the local Junior League thrift store with my seamstress grandma. A Saturday morning ritual, I never left the shop empty handed. There was always a vintage patent leather clutch or rhinestone brooches or Hermes like silk scarf—with prices tags well under $5.00.
Fast forward 20 years.Now vintage fashion doesn’t always equal bargain prices. Deals that could be found in local thrift stores are now going for $100.00 plus dollars at online and offline vintage stores. In fact, many vintage and consignment shop owners stock their stores with items they found at their local Salvation Army and Goodwill (biggest spot Jersey City Salvation Army). However, all is not lost. There’s been a emergence of online vintage stores that have great items without the high mark-ups. Here’s some of my favorite.
But first … a few things to remember
Online Vintage Consignment Shopping Tips
Before you make a purchase, browse multiple online vintage stores to get a feel for what types of clothes and accessories are offered, who has the best prices and selection, what stores are the most credible and which shops offer the pieces most in line with your personal style. Getting your feet wet will help you make a wiser choice when it comes time to type in that credit card number. Some good online vintage shops to check out are Goodwill , ebay, Fashion Dig, The Snob, and Vintage Trends.
Do Your Homework
Make sure that vintage dress is actually vintage, and that those shoes don’t merely appearretro. Many online stores sell knock off items for the price of a vintage product. Most of the time, information on the vintage store and the product you are researching is very easy to find. You always need to be smart when shopping online, and with vintage shops, there’s no exception.
Catch the Sales
Yes, even online vintage shops have sales (woohoo!). Yes, there are huge benefits to signing up for those e-mails– you can save major money. Pay close attention to advertisements, specials and two for one deals at the Vintage shops. You can sometimes find phenomenal bargains when paying attention to the front page ads. Online retailers often operate just like walk-in stores when it comes to sales, so always for deals check around holidays.
Remember that Times Have Changed
Like gas prices, hairstyles and scientific opinions on chocolate, garments have changed. Sizes of clothing made before the 80’s usually run much smaller than the comparable size today, so know your measurements, not just your size. Typically, you’ll need to add 2 sizes to your current size to find your vintage size. Because of the size discrepancy, it’s a good idea to ensure you can exchange or return your purchase if it doesn’t fit.
Shop it Like a Regular Store
Yes, that Pucci print jumpsuit is exactly like one worn by Edie Sedgwick in the 60s. However, if you wouldn’t purchase it on the rack of a regular” store, don’t purchase it now.
After your purchase…
Yes! You found the perfect vintage ensemble. Congratulations, but there’s still more you need to know. Firstly, what you’ve bought isn’t brand new, straight from the factory. It’s been through a lot, so treat it with care.
Vintage clothes are fabulous, but only if you take care of them. It’s a good idea to skip the washing machine and clean vintage garments by hand or at the dry cleaners. And don’t put them in the dryer– they’re already worn down enough. Look after your vintage clothes like the treasures they are, because if you lose a button on that Givenchy jacket or ruin embroidery on that Valentino dress, you very well may not be able to fix it.
My love of Etsy has no bounds. The online marketplace has redefined (and in many cases, defined) the online vintage marketplace. Head to the site and search for “vintage” to find a list of recently added vintage items.
Modcloth has revolutionized the online vintage shopping scene with it’s vintage picks curated with an editorial eye. The store also allows returns of it’s vintage garments, which is something other online vintage stores don’t allow.
Our favorite thrift store now has an online auction site. The nicely designed site is not quite Ebay, but you can find items at a cheaper price than its for-profit competitor. Shop Goodwill is the best place for cheap costume jewelry on the web. Where else could you find one of this season’s hottest styles, cameo brooches, for $2.00? There is a major downside to the site, very few of the postings have pictures.
Ebay has started to ramp up its style section, with a focus on fashionistas on a budget. Good deals can be found here, especially in the area of vintage fashion. I’ve purchased several items from the store, most recently a vintage hat covered with silk daisies circa 1962. Before spending any money with an Ebay store, check it sellers ratings and view their buyer comments. In addition, always purchase items from e-bay using a credit card with buyer protection. That way if the item is fake (which happens more often than not), you may be able to get your money back via the credit you used to purchase the item.
This Rodeo drive based store, has a online store with an impressive collection of vintage handbags and evening dresses worn by stars to premieres and Hollywood events. Of particular interest is perhaps the largest selection of St. John Knits consignment items. Frequent costumers can negotiate free shipping on their purchases.
Large vintage online store for men, women, and children. Has not only clothing, but has vintage military, lingerie and housewares as well. My favorite section is the vintage ethnic clothing from Pakistan to Ghana to Bali. Most items priced between $20-$50.
Looking for 1950’s/ early 1960’s inspired dresses. Have dreams of purchasing a dress that would make June Cleaver green with envy? Hey Viv is the 1950’s/1960’s inspired vintage store selling dresses, and outfits from the time period of I love Lucy and big cars. Great place to look for a poodle skirt. Most items priced below $40.
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Thanks for stopping by! I'm Catherine, your Budget Fashionista style editor. I'm a bargain shopper at heart, as I love nice things but hate paying for them! I'm also a personal finance writer who's been featured on USA Today and MSN Money.