If you need poodle skirts, Peter Pan collars and platform shoes or any vintage women's clothes that make you stand out, a vintage clothing store is the perfect place to go. They can hold some astonishing finds, like the perfect bell bottoms or a lace chemise from the Victorian era, as long as you know how to shop for quality.
Finding the Right Store
Before you begin hunting for vintage apparel, you need to find the right place to shop. General thrift stores can sometimes offer great finds, as can garage and estate sales. But, if you’re looking for a specific style, a true vintage clothing store is always the best bet.
The less impressive vintage stores take clothing donations and then try to pass them off as expensive vintage clothes. The best either purchase directly from the original owner or inspect garments before accepting.
An easy way to tell the difference between these two types of stores is to check the clothing price tag. Better stores will have the designer name, date of release and appraised condition for each garment. Lower-rung stores will simply have a huge price, and staff won’t know anything else about the actual piece.
Checking the Condition
Since vintage apparel is used, you need to evaluate the overall condition before you buy. The first thing to do is take a very close look at the entire garment. Check for stains, rips, fraying or worn spots. Pay attention to stress spots, and make sure the material isn’t about to rip around the knee, crotch or armpit.
Check every single seam on the item. Pull the seam apart gently, but firmly, to check for weak stitching. Run your hands around the entire garment, one at the front, and one at the back, pulling it gently apart again. This helps reveal any hidden tears or worn material that might not be immediately obvious. When you try on the garment, go through some everyday moves and stretches to see how the garment holds up. If you are buying the article of clothing for a 70s dance party, bust out a few dance moves to make sure that polyester pantsuit can handle the workout.
Zippers and buttons require extra attention. With zippers, check that the slider is in good condition, the handle is secure, the teeth work and the seam holding the zipper is sturdy. Tug on buttons gently to make sure they’re not about to break.
With women’s vintage clothes, it’s important to inspect the seam between the waistband and skirt. Tailored bust seams and pleats often start to fray at the top, so make sure that any darts are holding.
Men’s vintage clothes should be checked for extreme wear around the elbows and knees. The seat of the pants can also become worn, and the material or seam can split. To make sure a shirt hasn’t been altered, quickly check if the buttons on the cuff and the buttons on the collar match.
Evaluate the Material
Determining what material the vintage clothes are made from is important for discovering both durability and proper care. If you’re lucky, the label is still attached to the item. Most of the time the label is long gone, and you have to guess. Sometimes this can be easy, like figuring out if old jeans are made from denim. Sometimes it can be difficult, especially if a blouse is 30% silk, 30% satin and 40% linen.
The biggest concern with vintage clothing material is figuring out if something is leather or pleather. Pleather has a waxier feel and is usually slicker than leather. If the item isn’t lined, leather will show the natural hide, and pleather will usually have some sort of fabric backing.
Proper Care and Maintenance
As a general rule, the older the vintage clothes, the more important they are to hand wash. Since truly old garments weren’t made to withstand today’s washing machines, they can easily get ruined. Gently hand washing the items is the best way to clean and protect them.
Be extra careful with anything like embroidery or heavy knits. A professional dry cleaner should handle these. If the only option you have is to hand wash, then gently wash each garment separately, and avoid rubbing the material together.
Vintage Clothes As an Investment
If you’re buying vintage clothing as a collector, or using them as an investment, you need to look for additional features along with your basic checklist for buying clothes. Something that makes an item look good or wear well might not be helpful to its overall value.
The most important aspect for the investment is the label. These are often the first things to go, and having an original label still attached is a big boost for any vintage garment. A label can be one of the only ways to know the exact material makeup of the piece.
Another important quality to look for is original buttons, ties or zippers. A missing button or replaced zipper can drop the value of the garment. Even if a single button is missing, it will lower the price, and it will be almost impossible to find a replacement.
Be careful with vintage clothes if they’re an investment. A tiny tear or blemish could cost you serious money. Store pieces properly, according to style and material. Avoid overexposure to sunlight, since this can quickly fade colors.
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Accessories that we choose to wear each day can make up our wardrobe. They make what clothes we choose to wear look so much better. The way we dress our self each day is very important to us. We like to go out each day and feel confident about the way we look.