11 Things You Should Never Say to a Vintage Seller

by Nicole in , Comment — Updated January 21, 2020

What the Vintage Seller Secretly Wants to Say Back: “No, you can’t find a 1940s rayon blend dress with conversation print for $5.99 at a Goodwill. Trust me, I’VE TRIED and that source dried up decades ago!”

My Advice: Refrain from saying you can find, buy, manifest, borrow, create, etc. anything at a vintage store for less than said brick & mortar or online store is selling. Considering the time, energy, passion and love a vintage dealer puts into each garment, it’s as if you’re vocally insulting his/her child. Would you want another parent to say that they “Could have your kid for less from another partner?!” I mean, that doesn’t even make sense!

2. I Can’t Dress This Nice. I Have No Where to Wear It!

What the Vintage Seller Secretly Wants to Say Back: “Darling, if only you tried.Darling, if only you dared. Darling, if only you respected yourself enough NOT to wear oversize T-shirts, jeans and sneakers and for goodness sakes, get your hair done!”My Advice: Looking good is self-love. Period. Those who enjoy dressing themselves are more likely to create their own opportunities, pursue higher education and connect with strangers and new people in a loving, compassionate way. Why? Because when you look good, you feel good; and when you feel good, you look good. So if you’ve found yourself saying the above, I suggest that you get your booty back into a vintage store and purchase whatever it is that you think “You can’t wear because it’s too nice.” Phooey, I say!

3. Can I Have This Dress for Less?

What the Vintage Seller Secretly Wants to Say Back: “If you only knew the hours I spent removing stains, mending and cleaning that dress … you would never consider asking that question!!”My Advice: It’s totally acceptable to bargain at a flea market, but if you’re in an enclosed building with a roof over your head, it’s not acceptable. Reason being that a vintage seller – be it online or in a store – is not in the business of haggling. Sure,  you can make “best offers” via some online platforms, but at least that’s done in a much more “under-the-radar” way. Save your negotiations for yard sales, markets, estate sales and swaps, where that type of conversation is embraced (and a whole lot more fun!).

4. Why Is This Clothing So Different Than [Insert Vintage Style Company Here]?

What the Vintage Seller Secretly Wants to Say Back: “Because vintage style companies always [choose one: sex up, modernize, cheapen, etc.] the original vintage inspiration. You just can’t get the real deal new!”

My Advice: Embrace original vintage for what it is. And if you want to change it up a bit, don’t tell the purists I told you this: But seamstresses, sewers and DIY tricks do exist in this world. Use them to your advantage and cut that muumuu into a mini, sister! Just be sure to keep the material for something else – because throwing away good vintage is blasphemy.

5. I Only Wear Vintage on Halloween

What the Vintage Seller Secretly Wants to Say Back: “Vintage. Is. Not. A. Costume. $#&*^!!!!”

My Advice: Just avoid the “H” word. Please. For both your safety – and that of the vintage seller.

6. I’m Too Old to Wear Vintage

What the Vintage Seller Secretly Wants to Say Back: “So you’re too old to look good, wear a flattering piece of fashion and invest in yourself?”

My Advice: You’re only as old (or young!) as you decide – and vintage isn’t just 1950s wiggle dresses for 25-year-old party girls. Vintage spans through the ’90s now, and with more and more dealers investing in high quality pieces that are hard to find today at the same price for the same quality, I advise women of all ages to head into a vintage, consignment or any upscale resale shop and turn to the wisdom of the proprietor for what style suits you best. Trust me, they’ll know how to help you – no “age” sharing necessary.

7. I Just Saw This at [Insert Mainstream Store Here] Last Week!

What the Vintage Seller Secretly Wants to Say Back: “That’s because their designers continuously buy vintage for inspiration and quite literally take designs and replicate them for the assembly line. AGGH!!”

My Advice: If you’re going to mention the similarities between the styles of the past and today, make sure you do so with appreciation. It’s amazing to witness how trends resurface in unique ways. Let go of implying you can get the trend at [insert mainstream store here] to the vintage dealer – the last thing they want to hear is that their 1920s kimono can be purchased online in mass quantities for a third of their cost for the original version. (Slaps forehead in disbelief!)

8. I Think This is Too Expensive

What the Vintage Seller Secretly Wants to Say Back: “So you think that new iPhone of yours is too expensive? Or the $250 ticket you bought to Beyonce and Jay-Z’s ‘On the Run’ tour? Or how about a year of tuition at that liberal arts school, huh?!”

My Advice: You’ve been conditioned to buy clothing cheap. Case closed. Unfortunate as the reality is, people believe that they are “saving money” shopping lesser quality garments for less amount of money spent. Wrong. When you buy vintage or mostly anything of upscale status, chances are the quality is better, the style is more unique, and your affections for it will be longer lasting. Some of my favorite clothes to wear today are vintage pieces from high school – and that was 10 years ago. So just remember: What’s cheap may glimmer for a day, but it won’t shine for a lifetime.

9. Where Do You Find Your Stuff?

What the Vintage Seller Secretly Wants to Say Back: “Do you ask a grocery store where they buy their food?”

My Advice: Asking a vintage seller where they find their stuff is a logical question – but not one they absolutely love hearing. Why? Because at least once a day they hear it and at least once a day they have to reply with a sing-song nanana-you’ll-never-find-out-voice, “Oh you know … lots of different places.” Phew! Secret saved.

10. Why Were People so Tiny in the Past?!

What the Vintage Seller Secretly Wants to Say Back: “If society weren’t stuffing themselves with hormones, fast food and GMOs, perhaps our waistlines would be so-called ‘tiny’ again and we’d have figures that don’t need hours of sweat at the gym every week.”

My Advice: While we’ve gotten bigger, there’s another reason vintage of pre-’70s styles are typically available in smaller-than-the-norm sizes: Many of the clothes you see were intended for a 15-25 year old. So that’s clothing for the body of a babe before pregnancy and before the blessings of years of life. Ask sellers if styles can be expanded (you can always add “extra waist” with inserts) or if they have advice on other vintage styles to try. Online shopping tip: “Volump” (meaning, voluptuous) is the keyword to search when shopping online for waistlines 30-plus.

11. Is This a Thrift Store?

What the Vintage Seller Secretly Wants to Say Back: “Oh you couldn’t tell by the modern sign, smart merchandising and awesome store decor? That’s right … this is a clothing boutique, NOT a thrift store.”

My Advice: Sure, “thrift” can mean a variety of things and vintage, depending on the perspective, falls under the umbrella of thrift. But considering a vintage store is a.) not a non-profit b.) merchandised to resemble a boutique c.) does not accept donations d.) focuses on curated styles from the 1920s-1990s, it’s safe to say that for the most part, you should always err on the safe side and avoid calling a vintage dealer a thrift store … ever.

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