3 Things I’ve Learned About Life from Vintage

by Sammy in 8 Comments — Updated November 21, 2019

3 Things I've Learned About Life from Vintage 9

“Life Teaches, Love Reveals” Poster on Etsy

Wearing vintage has provided me with more than just a fabulous wardrobe or this website.

The vintage industry has taught me those lessons in life I never anticipated needing to learn and when the time was necessary, re-learn once again. These are lessons applicable to all aspects of our lives – not just working in the vintage industry.

The three things I’ve learned about life from vintage are small shifts in our perspective that can do wonders for our internal contentment and peace inside.

I hope I do these lessons justice, and that one (or all three) resonate with you, whether you’re a vintage buyer, seller or evangelist of #vintagelove like me.

I’d love to hear your comments below the post, or by saying hello on TwitterFacebookInstagram or subscribing to my newsletter. Check out my book, the 100 Best Vintage Shops Online, now for sale on Etsy! 


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Heart Bowls on Etsy 

1.) We can only love a few things (or people) with our entire heart …

… for healthy, whole, sustainable relationships.

Ever hear of the 150 people in your social circle rule? Neither had I, until a friend shared what’s called the “150 Dunbar Rule,” explaining that while we can have thousands of digital friends and hundreds of physical acquaintances, man can only hold 150 healthy relationships in a social group at any given time. It has to do with brain space – beyond 150 relationships, and we’re just stretching our memories too thin.

So when it comes to material possessions shouldn’t the rule be somewhat similar? Can we truly love and even wear more than 150 things in our closets?

As a vintage lover, I am also a vintage collector. I know many of you reading are nodding your heads in agreement right now.

But as a collector, I have to store things because I don’t have space to keep them in full view. Plastic bins, drawers, shelves and the space beneath my bed are possessed by these possessions that have no true “home” in my home. They’re just there.

Like the Dunbar 150 friends rule, I believe there’s a “150 Pieces of Fashion” rule. I’m trying to remember this each time I feel compelled to buy something new. I ask myself, “Don’t I have enough fashion in my circle? Will adding this piece cause me to love something else a little less?” The answer is usually yes – because as vintage lovers, we own a lot.

That’s why I spread #vintagelove by continuously giving away pieces I own that I’m not currently wearing. This helps maintain the healthy threshold of 150 pieces of fashion. I receive one new thing, I give away two. It’s all about the balance so I can love my wardrobe and all the possessions in it with a healthy point of view.

Which leads me to my next lesson …

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“Happiness Here Now” Photo Print on Etsy 

2.) Abundance is a mindset …

… not necessarily an obtainable “thing.”

Vintage buyers, sellers and collectors can be some of the most giving and greedy people – myself included.

You know the feeling: You’re at an estate sale with a friend. In fact, it’s your best friend in the business. Why, you’d give her your Schiaparelli hat collection to sell and pay off her debt, if she truly needed it!

At the estate sale, you spy her picking up a gorgeous dress, peek  inside and squeal in delight at a designer label – on a dress from the 1920s – and it’s the only one of its kind in the entire home.

Your heart sinks. Your competitive adrenaline soars. You.Want.That.Piece.

I’ve been there, you’ve been there! The game is a competitive one and if it weren’t, it wouldn’t be as exciting when you discover that true find you could have only dreamed about – until it came true.

So here’s the catch: Dreams do come true, and there is enough treasure to go around for everyone. But once you have one treasure, you’re going to want another one. And another one. And yet another one.

Abundance therefore is not about the physical possessions, because you’re never going to have enough when you’re a professional treasure hunter. Abundance is rather a mindset. It’s knowing that whatever is happening in your life is meant to be, that abundance is right here, right now without no future forecasting things will be better in time.

You have all the vintage you need now, and you will find the vintage you need in the future.

When we aren’t resting in a state of abundance, we carry the weight of need, scarcity and fear with us everywhere. It doesn’t just creep up in our souls at a competitive estate sale, but it sits in our souls long after, affecting our daily living, relationships with others and most importantly, relationships with ourselves.

When this feeling of need creeps up inside, I try to remember that there’s always another estate sale, thrifting adventure, shopping trip, etc. around the corner. What matters most is the awesome abundance I have right now – that is a feeling, and not a thing – and because not physical, is something no one can ever take away from me.

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Tree of Life Poster on Etsy 

3.) You can’t control the path …

… you can only control how you feel along the way.

The path of finding vintage is totally out of our control. We can try to create it with thrift store trips, estate sale appointments and visits to the closets of little old ladies, but we don’t know what we’re going to find once we get to these places.

Will we find gold? If we do, what kind of gold will it be? Will it be ’50s fashion gold or designer gold? Will it be gold that needs major mending? Gold that needs glistening? Gold that’s salvageable but not sellable?

All of our paths are lined with this metaphorical “gold.” The gold is never the same at different points on the path, and sometimes we chase after gold that takes us off our previous path and onto a new one. Like when you’re thrifting and have intentions to visit one Goodwill but then spot a yard sale along the way – you ‘betcha you’re getting off the path to dig around that potential goldmine!

While we can’t control our personal path of gold, we can control how we feel about it. We can accomplish this by not comparing our path to others, not criticizing our paths and not pushing our paths in a direction that feels unnatural. It’s one thing to be inspired but another to walk in fear, toward a goal that you’ve put on a pedestal as your salvation. Feeling good about the path is all that matters.

Your path is infinite, and there is no official end – until you die. And who wants to strive toward that?

So why try to reach the finish line when in a way, the finish line is right where you are, right now? You’re standing exactly where you’re supposed to be.


JOBS: 10 Careers in Vintage Fashion
BUYERS: 5 Things Vintage Sellers Want You to Know 
REGRETS: 10 Pieces of Vintage I Wish I Still Owned 
SELLERS: 5 Tips for Selling Vintage Fashion
PLUS: Why You Shouldn’t Feel Bad About Vintage Sizing


8 thoughts on “3 Things I’ve Learned About Life from Vintage”

  1. I love this post.
    Becky :)

    • thank you Becky!

  2. Wow,

    That was an amazing post! I so agree what you have said. May i share this post with others on my blog? This is a message that should be shared.

    Many Thanks


    • hi Shauna! Thank you! Please do and share the link with me when you are done ;-)

  3. Sammy,

    You, my dear, are wise beyond your years! I’m 30 years older than you and it took me much longer to come to some of these conclusions. Truly, abundance is a mindset and we need to be happy right here, right now.

    The decision to no longer consider myself a collector has been a defining moment in my life recently. I’ve sold off many of my collections over the past year or so. I still love the vintage/antique hunt, but now that I have a whole lot less stuff, I’m very selective. If I buy, it’s simple, inexpensive treasures. I no longer go after “big game” vintage. As a result, I feel a huge sense of clarity and lightness while enjoying what I have so much more. Plus, I spend a lot less time caring for it all. My possessions no longer possess me.

    I’ve been posting about downsizing on my blog over the last few months and would also like to link to this post; it was very well written. Thanks for sharing. Good work, girl!:) xxx

    • Linda, I tried writing back to this comment over my email but the email was undeliverable. I really appreciate all of this. It affirms how I feel about my STUFF. Would you be interested in doing a guest post about this topic?

      • Thanks, Sammy.

        Well, it would sure help if I hadn’t made a typo when I entered my e-mail address. (Chagrin!) I’m really sorry about that.

        Try dropping me a line again. I’d love to support your mission. :)


  4. I love thus post, especially the part about the journey, not the destination. I will enjoy more about my vintage journey now, thank you for the insight


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