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The Thrill of the Hunt

For our blog series Used Around Town, Katie and I have been scoping out some of the coolest thrift stores in Victoria. An unexpected byproduct of these adventures has been my new-found love of vintage shopping. Roll your eyes if you wish, but there’s a reason that celebrities and style mavens alike have been at it forever. Katie and I have been scoping out tons of amazing shops, thus putting me on a pretty steep learning curve. As I get better, I’ve been applying this knowledge to as well! Here are my tips thus far…

creative commons image courtesy of SoWa Sundays

Ignore sizes. When you’re dealing with used clothing, sizes can be pretty inconsistent, especially if the pieces span decades. Use the size as a ballpark measuring tool, but if you want to get a better idea of how something will fit make sure you know your own measurements.

Layer! I apply this to virtually all forms of shopping: if possible, wear an outfit with a tank top and legging underneath (for example, a tank top, cardigan and boots with leggings). It makes it a lot easier to try things on if there are limited dressing rooms or if it’s during peak shopping times. Same goes if you’re using the site – way easier to just pop a jacket or whatever over top of what you have on that having to hole up in a stranger’s bathroom.

Clean. A big draw to used and vintage clothing is that it has a uniqueness and history to it. Some people are not totally comfortable with this, which is why God invented dry cleaners. It’s best to wash anything before you wear it anyway, whether that be at home in your washing machine or having it professionally pressed. Having said that, be wary of stains – not everything is going to come out in the wash!

Go big. As someone who is petite, I’m used to having to take things to the tailor. When it comes to vintage, you’re better off going with something that’s too big and having it altered to fit you perfectly. If it’s slightly too small but you love it, a tailor might be able to let it out for you as well (keep it mind, it’s easier to make it smaller than add to it).

Holey soles. When it comes to shoes and boots, soles can generally be replaced pretty easily but holes in leather or fabric will not always be repairable. Make friends with your cobbler (as well as your tailor and dry cleaner).

Basic instinct. Sometimes it’s all about your gut feeling. There is a degree of urgency when you’re shopping vintage; if you decide to ‘think on it’ and come back later, it will probably be gone – that’s just the way the universe seems to work. A lot of these pieces will be one of a kind, so impulse buying is more acceptable here. Worst case scenario, you can sell it back or put it on your local Used site.

Bring cash. Depending on where you’re shopping, they might not have debit or credit set up and there might not be an ATM close by. Make sure you have bills on hand, because you never know what you’ll find.

Invest time. When you’re searching for hidden treasure, leave no corner un-inspected. You probably won’t find something awesome every single time, but try to find out when your favourite shops get new stuff (in the site’s case, you already know it’s on a minute to minute basis!).

Use your imagination. A little creativity never hurt; if you’re not totally sure but you think it might have potential, visit your new best friend (one of them, rather) the tailor. Check out style blogs and your favourite celebrities for some vintage inspiration.

Favourite things to look for: vintage t-shirts are always popular, as are cowboy boots, sunglasses and wood or turquoise jewelry. Leather bags are always a good purchase, such as the vintage Coach cross-body bag I picked up on recently (hint: for way less than at a vintage shop, and especially sweet since Coach is releasing a “vintage” line for Net-a-Porter at full price). Trendy items are also great vintage finds; this season look for rompers and jumpsuits, bell-bottoms, wedges and anything colour-blocked.

Happy hunting!

My latest purchase; vintage leather cross-body bag from Coach!

Student, future entrepreneur, blogger, traveler, soccer player, writer, amateur yogi, creativity enthusiast, fashion devotee.

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