How I Shop for Vintage Pieces
When it comes to shopping, there’s nothing better than that first step inside of a vintage store. Thousands of items haphazardly line the walls and make you wonder who in their right mind once owned them. More often than not, you wonder which episode of Hoarders they were on.
But for those who invest the time and energy, vintage shopping can be one of life’s greatest sartorial joys. Nothing really beats the schadenfreude of saying, “Thanks, it’s vintage” when someone lusts after one of your finds...except helping someone else discover an incredible piece (and yeah, I’m really proud of myself for finding a way to casually use “schadenfreude”.)
This week, I thought I’d share a few of my tips for scoring the next vintage piece of your dreams.
KNOW WHERE TO GO
I primarily use Instagram or Google Maps to find vintage shops whenever I visit a new city. Instagram is a great way to quickly see the store’s aesthetic and clientele while Google Maps provide the location (duh), hours, and honest reviews of the shop.
Of course, I’ve got to share my favorite Atlanta stores for my intown people:
Kudzu Antiques: one of my favorite places to just explore on a rainy Saturday or Sunday. They’ve got everything from WWII memorabilia to fantastic women’s/men’s clothing to bar accessories that look like they came straight from the Playboy mansion.
Favorite Find: my everyday ring (for only $22!!!)
Paris on Ponce: PoP has—hands down—the best location in ATL and is home to some truly incredible booths. Not to get too shi-shi but it’s a great stop along the BeltLine (💁) on a sunny Saturday. I love how much art is featured throughout the space; it gives the shop a warehouse gallery-meets-eclectic store vibe.
Favorite Find: just waiting for someone to buy me this VERY practical slot machine.
Highland Row Antiques: If you’re in the Buffalo Exchange/Plaza Theatre area, you definitely don’t want to miss out on a trip to Highland Row Antiques. Out of this list, HRA is the purist of the group and the best place to find true vintage pieces. This place is seriously a knick knack-lover’s wet dream. You’re welcome.
Favorite Find: This place is great for mid-century modern furniture pieces and nostalgia-inducing toys from the 20th century. I’ve never personally bought anything in there, but I still to this day regret not buying a vintage pair of shimmery silver Dr. Martens. Ugh.
Kiwi Vintage: S/O to Kiwi for doing a “What’s New Wednesday” on Instagram Stories every week. I love seeing how they style vintage pieces in a modern way and utilize social media to reach new digital audiences. The space is much smaller than the shops above but their location in EAV makes for a great gem in a borough defined by its creativity.
Favorite Find: vintage sports/band tees and pins out the wazoo.
Shopping for clothes in vintage stores can be tricky: the dressing rooms usually consist of a shower curtain for privacy and subpar lighting in front of a 1’ x 4’ mirror. My best advice is to wear something that’s easy to take off (i.e. leggings and a loose top) so that you can throw stuff on over what you’re already sporting.
NEVER LET A BROKEN ZIPPER HOLD YOU BACK
Vintage zippers are also a clothing nightmare. Yes, they were designed to work for 50+ years then break the MINUTE you try them on for the first time. If you’re having difficulty zipping something up, don’t force it; bring a few safety pins to finish the job.
If the piece fits, it costs ~$10 to replace a zipper and you’ll have the security of knowing it won’t betray you in the future.
VINTAGE SIZING: EVERYONE’S NIGHTMARE
I’ve also got a love/hate relationship with vintage sizing. While I’m a firm believer that you should NEVER stress about the garment size on a tag, it can also be extra-confusing to try and convert old-school sizes into modern standards. That’s why it’s best to just do what your mom always made you do and try everything on. You never know what piece might just need a little hem to look perfect on you.
WEAR & TEAR
Wear and tear is also something you’ll want to look for. Pit stains (ew), moth holes (is that the right terminology?) and missing accouterments (I’m so French) are part of the vintage game but aren’t necessarily deal breakers if you think you can have the piece repaired by a professional.
VINTAGE: THE BEST PLACE FOR TRENDS
With the cyclical nature of fashion, you’re bound to see the ancestors of today’s trends in your local vintage stores. The “straw bags” everyone loved last summer? They’re at vintage stores. Those heinous Louis Vuitton sneakers everyone’s love-hating right now? Those are probably at the vintage stores too (because NEWSFLASH: they’re just dad sneakers with a little contour).
All I’m saying is that if you’re will to do a little digging, you can find the happy medium between staying on trend and having something unique.
I hope you enjoyed these few tips on vintage shopping! At the end of the day—or when I feel the urge to buy another set of wacky salt and pepper shakers—I remind myself:
The difference between a hoarder and a collector? Quality over quantity.
What are your vintage shopping tips? Share them with me in the comments below!