Tips for Shopping Vintage

Annalise and I met during the winter of 2004 and quickly became friends due to our love of thrifting, vintage, and DIY. We both appreciate the history that a vintage piece can bring to personal style as well as a garment's intricate construction and subtle eccentricity. Most weekends you can find us traveling outside of our respective cities to explore vintage and thrift stores or even the occasional out-of -state haunt. With my move to the Michigan, I'll have many antique and thrift stores to explore, especially when Annalise visits me in the spring. Today we wanted to share some of our tips for selecting a vintage garment at a charity shop, antique store, or flea market.
Where to Look
Living in the Bay Area, there are a variety of options when shopping for vintage. From a thrift store such as Salvation Army to a higher end boutique, unique vintage clothing can be found with time and patience. While we do shop at higher end boutiques for a special occasion party dress or the perfect pair of 1960s kitten heels, we find most of our vintage from thrift stores. Whenever we travel outside of San Francisco, we always research the best thrift stores or antique shops in a town or city. We find yelp and Google reviews to be most the most helpful when locating a shop that meets our needs. After we have compiled a list and visit the locations, we often ask other shoppers and store employees about additional thrift or antique shops in the area. Through word of mouth, we have found some amazing thrift stores filled with exceptional vintage clothing and knick-knacks.
What to Buy
What we love about vintage shopping is the creativity that comes with selecting garments and accessories. We never know what we will find when we enter a charity shop or vintage store, but chances are we can incorporate an item of clothing into our wardrobe. Generally, we have set items in mind when we shop. We are currently coveting suede mini skirts, leather black heels, and velvet capulets for autumn. Due to this very specific list, we always seek out these garments first during vintage shopping trips. If we discover an exceptionally unique dress or accessory, we generally buy it as well. However, we are very stringent in our purchases in order to only buy clothing that we truly love.

Before vintage shopping, we always suggest making a mental list of items that you are currently seeking to add to your wardrobe. Always be open to other pieces that you may discover, but a list may be helpful in narrowing down an abundance of finds in a charity shop or boutique. Incorporating your personal style is always important in the process of vintage shopping. With a list, we often only buy pieces that match our styles such as 1960s fashion or the perfect Southwestern inspired bag.
Quality is important when selecting vintage clothing due to the relative age of the garment. If a dress is in need of serious repair, it may be wise to leave it behind due to a large investment of work and money. With that being said, a truly special garment may warrant additional time for restoration at the tailor. Some of our favorite dresses were tattered, stained, and ripped. But with a tailor who specializes in vintage clothing, the item can be transformed into something new.

When we shop for vintage, we always inspect the garment before purchase. Is the dress stained? Is the zipper in working condition? What type of material is the garment made of? Does the garment need to be shortened? After we assess its condition, we decide if it is a worthwhile purchase. We generally shy away from polyester (especially double knit polyester) because we don’t like the feeling of the material. Knowing that we don’t like certain materials definitely narrows down our search in vintage stores as well as stays true to our personal style.

Perhaps the most important suggestion we have is never underestimate the power of a tailor. We alter many of our vintage pieces for a modern fit and length. A dress can be hemmed to mirror a current trend or taken in for a more flattering fit.
Vintage + Personal Style
For us, buying and wearing vintage is a personal experience. Each piece has a unique history that we love to bring forth in the way that we wear our clothes. Remembering the original spirit of the garment while adding modern flair, weaving personal stories into styling incorporates our unique histories with the piece. And if we part ways with a well-loved dress or jacket in the future, the next owner will integrate their creative voice in a new way. When we are searching through the racks of lackluster clothing, it is the best feeling to happen upon the perfect pair of wide-legged high-waisted jeans or 1960s shift dress with detailed pockets. Vintage allows us to incorporate this creativity into everyday dressing. This is perhaps the reason we enjoy shopping for vintage treasures at a variety of shops and flea markets in our area.

If you have any additional questions or would like to talk vintage, please feel free to e-mail us at


chantilly :

what a lovely story of you two meeting and your love of vintage :) i'm also coveting suede mini skirts!! xo

Anna :

Your guys blog is seriously the best! I love how you can see all the time and effort put in to your posts, the photos are stunning as always. I too have a deep love for thrift and vintage so reading your posts is always lovely! Cant wait to see more
Anna xx

Sabrina T. :

this is all amazing!!

Patchwork à Porter

sophie :

great post! so usefull!
thnx for sharring!

Emma :

Great tips! I will definitely use them if I find my self in San Francisco! (fingers crossed haha)

Cheray Natalie... :

love this so much!
shopping for vintage is one of my favourite things & finding gems hidden among dusty racks at thrift stores make it all the more exciting!
i can't wait to get back to the USA to do some more vintage shopping - it's just hands down the best!
Cheray x