How to Vintage Shop Like a Pro

Leonardo is truly a master at second hand shopping. In my short shopping trip with him I found myself a lovely Sunday hat and a pair of killer boots, among other treasures, all for less than $20. That why we're proud to have him jot down all his tips for vintage shopping for the world to see. I don't think I've had as much fun shopping nor have had as much reading an article as I have had with this vintage shopping experience. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!


When people ask me where I get my clothes and accessories, I get very mixed reactions–those of interest, approval, or sometimes a sigh of disappointment–when they hear that it's all vintage and thrift finds. This disappointment, I figured, comes from the fact that either: one, they don't shop thrift/vintage–some actually hate or won't do it at all–, or two, they probably won't be able to find that same item.

The latter is probably the biggest reason for me to shop vintage. I take pride in being different and standing out, so the idea of mass-produced clothing doesn't jive too well. Obviously it's more practical to just shop at American Apparel but the thought of possibly running into someone wearing the same H&M jacket (I bought one recently) keeps me up at night. Don't get me wrong, I like both of those shops and they certainly have good stuff, but I also can't justify spending that kind of money when I know there's better, more inexpensive options.


{ Vintage Hunting Stratagem }


{ Cut out the Middlemen.}

As much as I enjoy going to vintage shops like Red Light and similar type businesses, I get more satisfaction in finding gems before they're picked through and resold for a higher price. Garage/Yard/Estate sales are my absolute favorite. Not only are things as cheap as they'll ever be (you can haggle, too, if you're into it), but often your items come with a story.
And I'm sure most of you know: Goodwill Bins

Pay by the pound! This is some thriftery at its down-and-dirtiest.
I've only binned once, in Portland, and it was traumatizing for the first time, but boy did I score. I had to repeatedly wash and exorcise myself along with the clothes to make sure no evil spirits and odors stay on.


{ Keep your friend's clothes, your dealers even clothes-er.}

There are vintage dealers out there that don't have permanent settlements, thereby allowing them to keep prices lower. They're harder to track down in their nomadic path, but in our modern age of bloggery and facebook, you can always follow where they'll set up pop-up stands.

This flea market-style gathering is always an event to go to for finding and trading with like-minded dealers in their gregarious grazing grounds. Make friends (or just be super friendly) with your vintage dealers. They'll know your style and may give/show you stuff they haven't even put out on the floor yet.

Also, make friends with your friends' (older) relatives. Ask if they have grandparents, aunts, or uncles who may be getting rid of stuff. More often than not, they'd be happier selling/giving their stuff to someone they know than to a charity like Goodwill/Salvation Army.

Basically, just be friendly with everybody.

Here's a list of some of those vendors:
Kaleidoscope vision
Moksha has a good mix of vintage (some are re-purposed) and local designers' goods.
Artache is a gathering of vintage dealers and local artists every Sunday at Vermillion
Valley of roses
The Fremont Market (Every Sunday)


{ Go the distance }

Small towns are less overpicked, and is where some true gems lay waiting to be found. This goes for thrift stores as well garage/estate sales. Look for listings on:

Yard Sale Search
West Seattle Garage Sale – (Happening this Saturday with 250 g-sale vendors!!!)

Make a road trip out of it. Bring a friend or two, just make sure you're not competing for the same stuff.


{ Give That Piece A Chance }

Sometimes I find a really neat piece that at the time may make no sense in my wardrobe collection, 9.5 times out of 10, I'll end up taking it. This can backfire, as it may end up unused and becomes just a clutter in your closet. However, it could also become the best thing you'll ever own and potentially help create a whole new look as you find other things to fit that piece. Example: a couple years ago I bought a tie-chain, not even knowing how to wear one, but it had the initials LH. I forced myself to wear it with bigger ties, as opposed to the super skinny I normally wear and now I'm loving it. Especially since tie-clips are becoming more popular, I have to start doing something different and I haven't met anyone who wears tie-chains. (maybe I shouldn't even have mentioned it, so I can hog all the sweet tiechains out there). I'm not sure what I'll do when people start wearing those... maybe move on to Elizabethan cartwheel ruffs.

If that item still doesn't work out, you can always try to resell it (Red Light pays the most) or gift it. If you're crafty and handy (not me), you can repurpose it and make something useful out of it.

I know this is true for me, but the fun truly is in the hunt. When you score, it counts for more.


A little about our friend:

Leonardo Before and After
There's a Japanese saying:
"The nail that sticks out gets hammered down."
What can I say, I do like to get figuratively hammered.

I use clothes as a statement of self-expression, following the trend of my own obsession or hobby at any given time but the theme is usually 'old' and retro. I like history and the past. I think everything looked better then and nothing new or modern excites me.

I'm a graphic designer by trade, a drinkmaker of my own home-bar when I come home, and when I lay in bed to sleep. I think and read about cocktails, liquor, and the coffee I will be making the next morning.
I try to make one cocktail a day for the past 2 years, and 'tried' but failed to keep a blog of it regularly.

I play bass in a band called Smile Brigade and I wear many hats, but that's because I'm too lazy to do my hair. I should just get it permed again.

I have a love/hate relationship with so-called fashion. On the one hand, I can honestly tell you I don't follow anything fashion. I know no designers or brands, I don't follow fashion trends or blogs (except for this one...), and I wouldn't know the first thing about fabrics, sewing techniques or materials. But I do very much enjoy looking at well-dressed people, with well-assembled ensembles and outfits that work together compositionally. I'm really fascinated by the silhouette/shadow an outfit creates.

1 comment:

  1. LH you are a unique and beautiful flower HL