Guide to buying vintage clothes

Caroline Cassidy

We all get tired of the same old clothes on the high street now and then. So it's great to get hold of something unique to brighten up the rest wardrobe. Shopping for vintage clothes can be very satisfying and it makes sense ethically. If you are concerned about the impact of large scale production and sweatshop labour but still want to look good then vintage may be the thing for you. Buying second-hand clothes will help you find something different and keep your image fresh. It could also save you some money.

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The term 'vintage' means clothing from an era of the past. This can mean anything that is 20 to 70 years old. The recent trend for celebrities to wear vintage outfits has seen a boost in sales and more and more of us are looking for that unique item

The obvious places to up pick vintage wear are from charity shops, car boots and jumble sales. Specialised vintage shops tend to be a bit pricier but if you are looking for something specific then you are more likely to be successful. Charity shops have a high turnover of stock and of course, are for a good cause. Locating that vintage bargain will take more patience shopping this way but lots of people do it and fill their wardrobes with classics from the past. It's worth noting that charity shops and jumble sales in affluent areas often have higher quality items available. Jumble sales are very cheap, but remember you can't take anything back.

Vintage clothing has become more desirable with the increased awareness of environmental issues and sustainability. Fashion is cyclical and trends from the past have a habit of making a re-appearance

Past eras often used better-quality materials and techniques in their production. So vintage clothing may have been used but it's likely to be of high quality. In any case, most vintage fashion stores will not sell poor-quality items.

Buying vintage takes practice and you need to know what to look out for. Finding a bargain means knowing how to identify brands and the age of the item. Remember that the way sizes are measured has changed over the years so it's a good idea to bring a tape measure with you.

You should always try clothes on if you can. Check for quality and that the garment is intact. Make sure buttons and buttonholes match. Are there spare buttons just in case?
What fabric is it made of? Wool, cotton and other natural fabrics last longer than polyester or nylon.

The appeal of buying vintage is not only knowing you are acquiring unique, quality item but that it is also great way to recycle. When you buy vintage clothing you leave a smaller carbon footprint. By re-using rather than discarding you are avoiding using landfill and are making a contribution towards and eco-friendly lifestyle.