Of course I know that you already love vintage style, so you keep your eye open at all times for that fab thrift shop find. One of my own best ever discoveries was a chinoiserie silk flapper dress in Sue Ryder in Kings Lynn. Isn't it just divine?
But if you are planning a MAJOR all out vintage shopping expedition, then in this little vintage shopping guide you will find my Top 5 Vintage Shopping Tips to inspire you to shop with even more vintage savoir-faire and style.These tips are specifically aimed at stitchers who are looking for vintage garments and textiles to restyle, rework and adapt. Check out the end of this post for a couple of bonus tips for those who want to wear their vintage purchases sooner rather than later!
1. Check opening times online and double check Facebook pages to see if there are any visitor discounts or incentives. Some organisers allow early entry before the marauding hordes if you pre-register, always worth being the early bird. More time for cake and coffee later. Or maybe just more time for shopping ....
2. As well as your stylish tote shopper, take a couple of those woven laundry type bags Just,In.Case. You can guarantee that the day you are not really going to buy anything, you will find the curtains or quilted coat of your dreams which, even rolled up, will no way squeeze into that usually capacious tote.
And yes, this is from the woman who scuttled through crowds of bemused Oxford tourists, looking for all the world like I was clasping my wretched bedding to my bosom, when I discovered an antique quilted bedcover at the local vintage market and didn't have a bag that was big enough! (Gloucester Green, Thursdays 9 to 4pm if you are in Oxford).
If you have one of those massive Ikea blue shopping bags, you know the one that doubles as a 2-man tent, then take it! Be prepared.
3. You're a restyler, right, so remember to think outside the sewing box.
|Cute 50s cotton apron with bright kitsch print? Summer top maybe.|
Divine 70s maxi skirt, too small but textile to die for? Lots of gorgeous pieced coats and jackets with contrast panels around, take a look at Desigual for inspiration.
Large silk scarf, gorgeous colours and dreamy texture, but you don't "do" scarves? Tops, kimonos, quilted bags, slippers ... check out my scarf top tutorial and lots more scarf rework projects to come.
Hop over to my Pinterest boards for pinspiration and lots of lovely vintage textile upcycling ideas.
4. Examine items carefully. Hold textiles and garments to the light to check for moth holes and rips. One of two moth nibbles can be disguised with embroidery, but steer clear of serious infestations.
Check buttons and zips. They can be replaced but you might get a discount for damaged fastenings. Does the dress have little belt carriers but no belt? Ask the dealer, maybe it has become separated.
Carefully look over entire garment to check for stains and fades. Stains can sometimes be removed with oxy-type stain removers but there is no guarantee. Again, if they are tiny you can probably work round them anyway. But fades are usually a no-no unless you plan to overdye or applique.
5. Prepare your laundry room before you go! And no, I am not advocating a return to a 1940s life of housewife drudgery. It's just that if there is any possibility you might return with a large-ish quantity of vintage textiles (OK, let's get real and just say "when" you return overloaded with purchases), I always recommend laundering all garments and textiles immediately you get them home for hygiene reasons.
This is simply NOT going to happen if you have several basket loads of laundry already queueing to get into the machine.
So have your colour run catcher sheets and old pillowcases (to hold delicates) to the ready and never wash above 30C. Line drying is preferable where practical.
Even if your intended stitchery project is a way off, wash and dry thoroughly before storing. Clean clothing and textiles are far less tasty for those dreaded moths.
Bonus tips for vintage ready to wear
For those of you who aren't yet ready to upcycle, here are a couple of bonus tips for adding to your pret-a-vintage wardrobe:
6. Leave the lacy bra and skimpy drawers at home and wear a close fitting Tee or crop top and leggings (or big pants) so that if you do need to try a garment on in a quiet corner of a bustling trading hall or scant changing cubicle, you'll spare your own and everyone else's blushes.
7. Ignore size labels and measure garments with the tape measure you remembered to bring, right? Remember, a 50s or 60s size 16 is generally closer to a modern size 12. Be sure to know your own measurements and remember to allow approx. 2"/5cm to each measurement for wearing ease. We don't want any ripped seams when you bend over!
Garments can be quickly cinched in with belts. But letting them out is a more major endeavour so be sure you will be able to manage it as alterations can be costly.
Stick to cottons and washable fabrics where possible. Dry cleaning is an extra cost and some firms simply won't touch vintage items without care labels! Or they will at a price.
Been there, worn the vintage T shirt
I have been vintage shopping and stitching since the 70s (yes, I really am that old!) and always love sharing what I have learned (including mistakes and disasters) over that time. You might be wondering WHERE I go shopping. Keep watching for my upcoming post on my favourite vintage shopping destinations.
And I would love to hear your vintage shopping tips or your all time best ever vintage finds ....