How to Shop for Vintage Clothing

by Nicole in Comment — Updated February 16, 2023

Is it possible to shop the latest trends without getting new clothes? Absolutely! Secondhand shops are fantastic places to get inspiration from so that you can look brand new without being brand new. How to Shop for Vintage Clothing

Finding Vintage Women’s Clothes

When shopping for vintage clothing, consider that you might not want to look too retro. Who really wants to be caught dead wearing a nylon petticoat instead of modern womens shapewear? You may go for a bare leg over seamed stockings. You may even want a cardigan that you can tuck right into a midi skirt, neutral and sleek like ones from an autumn/winter Chanel catwalk, not fuzzy pastels with embroidered flowers. This might be a challenge. Can you find new clothes with a chic vintage look without buying brand-new clothes?

How to Shop for Vintage Clothing

It’s Fashionable

Believe it or not, vintage fashion shopping is quite trendy. It’s sustainable retail therapy and a feel-good fix for shopping that won’t add to the clothing overproduction environmental problem. All over the planet, younger generations are returning to a predilection for secondhand clothing pieces that their parent’s generation never cultivated due to their desire for ready-made fast fashion.

European Phenomenon

This novel idea of shopping for secondhand clothes is even starting to be felt on the high-fashion streets. For example, in Covent Garden right in London, you’ll find a branch of Picknweight, which is a vintage store that has a cult following in Berlin, where it had a long line of customers when it opened. Next door is Rokit, which is an institution when it comes to vintage clothing. It’s sold over a million tons since its first branch opened in 1986 in Camden. The floor of the shop is vast, but you’ll find that many vintage stores curate their inventory so that they reflect current trends. \

How to Shop for Vintage Clothing

Up Your Game

Shopping for secondhand clothes means you need to be a smart shopper. If you walk into an exclusive new-clothes store, you’ll easily find ready-made looks. They’re presented quite glossily on mannequins and even helpfully merchandised along with stock in varying sizes and even coordinating items. When you shop at a secondhand establishment, you need to move a bit slower because you need to look harder. You might even need to use your brain just a bit. This can help when it comes to reminding you that while brand-new clothing looks best when spotlighted and fluffed in the stores, secondhand shops are different. Pieces you’ll find there tend to undersell themselves in the store but really come alive once you get them home. How to Shop for Vintage Clothing

If you go to a thrift shop looking for a bourgeois look, search for midi skirts, blouses, and trench coats. Leather should also be on your hit list for contemporary vintage. You can usually find a number of leather pieces at secondhand stores, but you can narrow your options down by searching for tailored pieces in shades that are neutral, like gray or brown. 

If you’re more interested in clothing that appears current instead of bargains from designer brands, don’t even look at the labels except when looking for your size. Zoom in on things that are gold, tan, or beige. If you’re looking for a skirt, go for the length that feels best to you. You may even get lucky and find a few silk blouses. Argyle knit sweaters are also good finds. Tweed blazers might catch your eye if you’re looking for a more business look. If sportswear with a 90s look is your thing, you’ll more than likely find plenty – lots of Adidas and Reebok hoodies, and typically for low prices. 

Shopping for vintage clothing is an easy and fun way to get your shopping fix without breaking the bank. 


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