[Fashion 101] Tips For Vintage Shopping


By Sreya Sanyal from THREAD SG

You never know when you’re going to strike gold, which makes shopping for pre-worn items of yore so fun! Each piece carried in vintage and thrift stores is shrouded in history and mystery — we are left to wonder about the stories of the people who owned the clothes.

Here’s what to consider the next time you’re out on a shopping spree:

1. Know Thy Measurements


In inches, in centimetres, and in metres. Trusting the sizing labels on 30-year-old clothing items will do you no good as clothing sizes have shifted massively in recent years. A vintage item may bear an “M” label, but might be XS according to modern sizing. The best way to dispel sizing doubts is to carry a measuring tape and physically measure the items in the store.


2. Brush Up On Your History


Knowing your flare dresses from your 1920 flapper gowns will save you from getting ripped off. If you are unsure of the era of the clothing being advertised , a simple Google check will ensure that you don’t end up going home with what you think is a century-old gown but is actually a dress from the 90s. Familiarising yourself with various cuts and styles from the ages will help you glean the true value of the item.


3. Know Your Materials and Prints


Vintage items are often constructed in fabrics of yore such as pure silk, flannel, twill and gabardine. A certain print dominated each era (polka dots during the 40s and 50s, crazy stripes during the 70s) so if you find a striped two-piece outfit being passed off as a turn-of-the-century wedding gown, know that you’re being scammed.


4. Have A Few Sewing Tips Up Your Sleeve


Often, vintage outfits won’t fit perfectly-the sleeves may be too tight or the hemline slightly frayed. That’s where a stitch in time can save several nines. Instead of discarding a vintage item from your shopping basket because of minor flaws, bring them home to do some quick darning. On the flipside, if you are drawn to a rare piece of fabric with a rather unflattering shape, some alterations would drastically change the outfit.


5. Be Mindful Of Prices


Valuing yesteryear clothing in modern-day currency is tricky, making vintage shopping akin to treasure hunting. You might walk away with a retro Hermes scarf at a steal, or find yourself faced with exorbitantly priced non-designer items. If the items are part of a designer collection recent enough to be documented on the internet, look up the valuations from that era.


Planning to go thrift-shopping soon? Let us know your thoughts!