There are no two ways about it, collecting and wearing vintage clothing is an expensive hobby. In this article, I will tell you some secrets that you can use to stay on budget and look fabulous at the same time.
- Be an Ebay stalker.
If Ebay was a person, they might take out a restraining order on me since I spend perhaps an unhealthy amount of my day checking out the vintage clothing selections there; but all this time spent does pay off especially if you are looking for a fantastic deal on a unique piece. The number one place I would tell people to get vintage in this day and age is Ebay.
Depending on what era you are buying, you have an ever updating selection of merchandise. Obviously the older the item you seek, the few of it will probably be online. My recommendation is pick a couple eras you particularly like. For me, I general hang around and stalk 1920s-1930s categories along with the world war two era fashions ( if you didn’t know, Ebay vintage clothing is broken down to several different era categories) sometimes I will take a peek at the stuff from the Edwardian era or the 1960s-70s, but pretty much stick with the 1920s-1940s since keeping up with the new offerings in other categories is exhausting.
Generally on Ebay, the price of vintage clothing is less then you will pay in a retail or online store/site like Etsy. These low prices can be attributed to something you might remember from high school economics class, when the supply is more, the price drops. On Ebay, as stated above, the supply is so large and constantly updating, that it keeps prices low.
There is one exception to the rule, and that is when the item is a in demand item, especially when that item is offered at a lower price. When it comes to these items, you might end up paying the retail amount–or more, especially if there is a bidding war. The key is to remember is your budget as well as how much you want that item. Spending more money on “holy grail items” you may have on your vintage bucket list is something else entirely which I will bring up later in this article.
But rule of thumb, unless the item you are looking at is rare and in demand (by you and others), you will probably looking at lower prices for vintage clothing then you would find just about anywhere else. You can find cheaper clothing at only one other place and that is the next topic on the list.
- Be a thrifty shopper.
If you are looking for inexpensive vintage, thrift shops are another great place. These are the places where vintage items can be bought at rock bottom prices, but you have to be up for of the hunt. Obviously the same rule of thumb applies at thrift shops at it does on Ebay. The older the items, the less you will find. Chances are if your thrift shops are anything like mine here in Los Angeles, you will probably mind a mix of clothing made in the last 10 years along with clothing from the 1990s and 80s, occasionally you will find something from the 70s, but it’s usually outrageously and hideously ugly.
But, occasionally you will find a treasure. Occasionally, I will find items from the 60s and the 50s, that is not so impossible. A handful of times, I have found items from the 20s and 30s, but this is very rare.
My recommendation for those of you who are so inclined to go thrifting is go often and vary where you shop, the pickins’ might not be as abundant as Ebay, Etsy or vintage shops, but when you do find those vintage pieces at rock bottom prices, it will be worth the time you will spend!
- Be picky with what you buy.
If you are a serious vintage collector, one with a real passion for certain eras whether it be Biba from the 1970s or Egyptian revival from the 1920s, certain pieces are worth the money. I am talking about the pieces that are attached to that saying “nothing haunts you like the vintage you didn’t buy”. If you have a piece that you are dying to own, and you find it, and spend your money on that one thing rather than a bunch of other items that are not on that bucket list of yours. If that item is worth having, then it’s probably not going to come cheap. Which comes to several ways you can afford those ” got-to-have” vintage items even while staying on a budget. I talk about several of the best ways below.
- Use trade/barter
If you walk into a small vintage shop, chances are if you have something they (and their customers want) chances are they are willing to pay you or trade you something you want for it. If you have something you desperately want and have been collecting vintage for a long time, chances are there are a couple or more items in your closet that are no longer working. Give them a new home and get something great in return.
- Use Layaway
Layaway is another great way to buy vintage clothing and antiques in general. Vintage clothing sellers know that their items are expensive and one of a kind and many are willing to work with you if you need some time to buy something. You usually put down a deposit and then pay it off in the time allowed, generally one to three months, sometimes less sometimes more. Layaway is offered at brick and mortar shops and is offered by many sellers on Etsy.