How to find vintage clothes you’ll love forever
Vintage resellers give us their top tips for thrifting your wardrobe
words Sophie Lou Wilson
Love them or hate them, the Depop girlies keep winning! As the popularity of thrifting continues to grow, it only makes sense that some sellers are capitalising on their eye for curating clothes and spotting trends. Whether on the aforementioned divisive reselling app, other online platforms, or in good old-fashioned charity shops, pre-loved fashion is bigger than ever. And thank god it is, because there’s no denying that shopping second hand is better for the environment than buying your clothes brand new.
In an ideal world, the majority of our wardrobes would either be thrifted or upcycled. There are already enough clothes in the world to last several generations even if we all shifted to only shopping second hand. The idea that there’s scarcity when it comes to vintage fashion is largely a myth. Sure, certain styles and eras might go in and out of fashion and therefore be harder to get hold of, but we’re never going to run out of secondhand clothes entirely. The key to success lies in knowing what’s desirable and where to find it.
However, thrifting is still a privilege. It’s much more time consuming than buying new clothes and not everyone can find vintage garments in their size. Additionally, one unfortunate side effect of vintage fashion’s growing popularity is that prices have gone up. That said, there are some more accessible and affordable ways that you can shop second hand. After all, humans have been wearing second hand fashion, hand-me-downs and mended clothes since long before Depop sellers were getting accused of gentrifying thrifting.
So, whether you want to make more eco-friendly fashion choices, cultivate an eye for finding unique and flattering vintage pieces or learn how to thrift on a budget, we spoke to some of the industry’s most resourceful resellers to get their expert advice on finding vintage clothes you’ll love forever.
Sophy and Dexter, SYLK
Sylk sell hand-curated vintage designer fashion from Burberry, Versace, Louis Vuitton and more. Shop a selection of their best finds here.
Understand your size and style
“Knowing your size is really important when shopping vintage, as pieces that were made years ago don't always match up to modern sizing. If you have time on your hands it helps to go out and try on different styles. This will help you decide what kind of pieces you want to purchase. We would recommend laying your favourite item out flat on the floor and taking its measurements. Once you have this you can search for similar items with the same measurements.”
Create a moodboard
“A really great place to start is to collect pictures of outfits you like, whether this be screenshotting on Instagram or pinning on Pinterest. Once you have a collection of outfits you can begin to copy these with similar items. This is also useful for helping you realise what gaps you have in your wardrobe. The key is to focus less on trends, and more so on your own personal style, pieces you know you can rely on and will wear again and again.”
Look out for kilo sales or search eBay for bargains
“If you’re on a budget, look out for kilo sales, where you buy by the weight instead of per piece. eBay is also a great tool. You find the best bargains when you put the time in to search for them. In terms of key words, fabric and style are both really important. For example, searching ‘90s leather bomber jackets’. Searching the word vintage on these platforms isn't necessary as it's very overused.”
Kayla, Bullshit Boutique
Bullshit Boutique is a vintage clothing platform and digital hub for creativity, activism and thrifting
Get out of the fast fashion mindset
“Don’t go thrifting with a fast fashion mindset and buy the whole store just because it’s cheap. Building your own unique closet filled with second hand clothing takes time.”
Look for curated sellers
“For those who don’t have the luxury of time to thrift, curated stores can be useful. That’s where vintage sellers come in. You can find them at vintage markets hosted in your local city or little boutiques. However, I would advise keeping your eye out on social media because, in the digital age, the majority of vintage is sold online. There are plenty, including myself, of curated vintage online shops. Small online vintage brands also tend to price their garments lower. I created my own website of curated vintage that sells primarily ‘90s and Y2K for $20 and under with no exhausting scrolling necessary to find cute clothes.”
Keep a list of favourite brands and vague search terms
“You definitely should have a list of your favourite brands or keywords while searching on resale platforms. A way to develop your own personal list of keywords is to figure out your style. What do you like? Go to Pinterest and examine the outfits that you’re drawn to and then identify key elements of those outfits. Last winter I wanted one of those 70s Penny Lane coats. However if you search ‘70s penny lane’ you will end up with some very expensive listings. So you have to get vague about things. I used the key words ‘fur trim’, ‘maxi’, and 'suede' to find the perfect winter coat and it was only $50! So long story short, identify specific characteristics of the clothes you wish to find and search those in vague terms.”
Darina is a Ukrainian vintage reseller currently specialising in selling boxing boots
Spend time exploring online
“I started thrifting very late in high school. When I visited my first thrift shop it literally changed my life. I didn’t have to save money for a month to buy a pair of jeans. Thrifting IRL is fun, but for me personally thrifting online is a different level of fun, when you simply type a word like ‘skirt’ in search engine and happen to find the most beautiful vintage skirts with beautiful fabrics it is such a pleasure to search for items with abstract words, and the price is sometimes even less than in thrift shops. If you’re on a budget, be prepared to scroll through 3000 items to find yourself that skirt, but that’s the fun part for me and you can always stumble upon other items.”
Invite a friend and make a day of it
“I recommend grabbing a friend and just spare a day and visit all thrift stores in your area. This is so much fun, you will always find stuff for yourself or to sell.”
“Go to Pinterest, create an inspo board and take a look at each item individually. For example, if you see a skirt you like, try describing it in different keywords, and put it into a search engine of a second hand website.”