Top Tips - Shopping Vintage & Secondhand

I am a huge fan of vintage and thrift shopping, I just love it. I feel this sense of competition when perusing second-hand wares, like I am competing to find the best hidden gem for the best price. For me, it's not just about getting a cool item but getting it for so cheap that when someone asks where it's from I can proudly say I got it for $5 and wait for their incredulous response. It's a similar thrill I get when finding amazing buys at fast fashion retailers but we'll save that for another post. Today I wanted to talk about my top tips for buying from vintage, thrift and second-hand stores and highlight some of the looks I have worn on Fizz and Fade that include vintage pieces I have scored over the past year.

Vintage Find : Men's Hawaiian Shirt

Tip #1 : Think Outside the Box

I don't focus on the womenswear section of a vintage shop, I look at everything. Men's, children's, home goods...I scour all of it. With changing trends, there are often styles worn by men or kids of yesteryear that are now on-trend for women. Case in point - Hawaiian shirts. Last summer I had seen some pricey versions of the classic vacation topper being sold by trendy retailers such as NET-A-PORTER and Revolve. My local vintage shop had some great Hawaiian shirts...in the men's section of course. Some quick alterations to narrow the width and tack the rolled sleeves and I ended up with the above shirt (worn originally in this post). I have also found sweaters in the kids section, shawls in the home section and jackets in the men's section so make sure you get a look at everything not just the pieces for "women".

Vintage Find : Women's Housedress Re-designed Into Wrap Skirt

Tip #2 : Fabric First, Fit Second

Unless the item in question is super teeny, the fit of a vintage piece is totally irrelevant. I scan the racks for fabrics before I even pull anything out to see what it looks like. Why? Because everything can be altered, tailored and adjusted but the fabric is what you're stuck with. Just by scanning the racks I can see if there are specific colors, prints or textures that catch my eye. I found a bright blue floral housedress last spring at my vintage shop that was a size XXL. It was comically huge on me when I tried it on. Which was the jackpot in my eyes since it meant I had a ton of fabric to work with. I ended up cutting this up and creating the above wrap skirt with the fabric (worn originally in this post). I know not everyone is going to create a brand new piece like I did, but simple alterations are easily done by any tailor. So focus on the fabrics, not the fit. You can never go wrong with a great vintage print!

Vintage Find : Beaded Clutch

Tip #3 : Look Off the Beaten Path

Unless you are willing to pay more than you have to, never go to the famous vintage shop or market looking to buy clothes. They jack the prices up at these places since they know tons of tourists will be there. Instead I like to hit up the the more unexpected spots. Beyond my local vintage shop, I check out Goodwill, Salvation Army and random mom and pop shops. Oftentimes the people who are shopping at these stores aren't interested or even know what the "trendy" styles are so your competition for finding an amazing piece is way less. I even scored a beaded blush chiffon vintage flapper dress from Buffalo Exchange for $12 once, so I don't write those places off either. On one visit to Goodwill I found the above white beaded clutch (worn originally in this post) sitting in a bin in the "accessories" section. Though I imagine it is from the 80's, it had a great Art Deco feel to it and has served me well at multiple weddings. I think it cost $6 or so, can't beat that.

So those are my top tips! I hope this has inspired you to get out there and dig for hidden gems at your local vintage, thrift or secondhand store. Not only will it save you some money, you get something totally unique and help reduce waste by recycling old items. Let me know if you have any other tips for finding great vintage!