Tips to help vintage shoppers from amateur to advanced make the most of their time and money.
Bring a tape measure and know your measurements:
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Most vintage shops and thrift stores have small fitting rooms, if any. Taking measurements of the garment will let you know if it will fit without having to try it on.
Don't know how or where to measure yourself? Learn how...
Ignore sizes:Sizes are not consistent throughout every decade. You may have heard that size 6 Marilyn Monroe would be a 10 or 12 by today's standards. Since the sizes on labels of vintage clothes have no correlation to the sizes of today's clothing, it is important to try things on or measure them before purchasing.
Dress in layers: Dressing in layers makes it easier and faster to try on clothing. Wearing a leotard or leggings and tank top under a skirt makes it possible to try on clothes even if there is no fitting room. This comes in especially handy at flea markets and garage sales.
Go larger:Finding vintage clothes that fit you perfectly is not always possible, but if you find something you like and it is too big for you, it may not be a lost cause. Larger sizes can usually be taken in and tailored easily depending on the fragility of the garment and its construction. Smaller sizes however rarely have enough extra in the seam allowance to make it larger.
Bring cash:Though many boutiques and larger thrift stores accept credit or debit cards and sometimes personal checks, not all smaller stores do. All stores, flea markets, and garage sales DO take cash, making it your safest bet. You wouldn't want to lose an amazing find to the next customer because you had to run to the ATM. Small bills are best.
Try to bargain:In boutiques, flea markets, and at garage/estate sales, bargaining is an option. Shopping at the end of the day increases your chances of haggling a better price. Thrift stores are usually run for charity, so bargaining is never appropriate. However, most thrift stores have bargain or sale days, so if you want to get an item at a lower price you can try to purchase it on one of those days.
Be the early bird:To get the most coveted items at garage/estate sales and flea markets, the old saying rings true. The best pieces go first, so get there early if you want a chance at vintage gold.
Be an impulse shopper:Vintage shopping is one instance where impulse is OK because every item is one of a kind. If you don't get right then and there, it may not be available later. Even if you change your mind about your impulse purchase, the item can be sold back to the store, put on eBay, or re-donated back to the thrift.