Top tips for buying vintage

Here at Seraphine we find vintage shopping to be one of life’s greatest joys. From the decadence of the 1920s, to the youthful rebellion of the 1960s, we love the process of meticulously hand picking vintage clothing. However we also know that finding such genuine and exquisite pieces from these golden eras of fashion can be tricky, sometimes gruelling and often overwhelming at first.

Having said that, we genuinely believe that the thrill is in the hunt and that all your hard work will be totally worth it when you finally unearth a truly incredible piece. It’s just about learning a few tricks of the trade, so to help you out here are a few insider tips on how to buy vintage clothes like a pro:

1. Know the difference between vintage and second-hand

Vintage pieces have something special about them, be it timelessness of style, quality, cultural significance or interesting historical background. You can read more about what makes a Vintage dress authentic here.

2. Check check and check!

You might quickly fall in love with a beautiful garment but check to see if the fabric is in good condition before you jump the gun. One area you should always check is the armpit, as before the days of deodorant this area became easily damaged from perspiration. Another thing to look out for are the fastenings. Double-check that the zips don’t get stuck and that none of the buttons are missing. Always hold your garment up to the light in order to highlight any flaws, as the light will shine through any patches where the fabric has become too thin and delicate. Lastly, if something’s wrong but seems amendable or excusable, don’t be afraid to ask for a discount!

3. Don’t be tempted by garments that need too much altering

While a simple strap or hem shortening might be fine, there aren’t many alteration shops out there that do vintage clothing justice, so it may be best to leave it. What’s more, if the fabric is frayed, raw or too thin, it may not even last a wash!

4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Most vintage sellers like myself are passionate about what they do and are happy to talk to customers about the vintage clothing they sell and about things like sizes and fair pricing. Asking for help can also help with the whole learning process. Shop assistants can help you identify which looks work for you and teach you the signs that could make an item valuable and collectable.

5. Be prepared

Take a tape measure along with you. Sizes have changed a lot over the years so labels don’t mean much today. If you have a tape measure and a good knowledge of your own measurements, you won’t have to bother spending too much time and energy trying things on. Bringing a waist belt is also a good idea as dresses can look completely different with the help of a belt. It’s also a good idea to go light on the makeup whilst shopping as you don’t want to end up ruining a classic white frock with foundation or bright red lipstick. Preparation also includes educating yourself, doing your research and learning how to spot condition issues, what works for you and how collectable an item is.