Gone are the days when we cringe at the thought of rummaging through a charity shop, the days when we laugh at our grandfather for suggesting he owns something similar to an item of clothing we mentioned and the days when we thought eBay was only created as a place to buy cheap electronics and things that fell off the back of a truck. No, these are the days in which we look to the past for inspiration, classic style and something to wear the next time we step outside of the house. In recent years, vintage has become a huge inspiration for many a fashionable male. With the transition of vintage fever moving from women to men and the ever increasing availability of vintage outside of London, now has never been a better time to look to the past as a means of developing your fashion future.
How to shop vintage:
When shopping for vintage finds, it is important to remember that the most beautiful jewels are often found hidden amongst tonnes and tonnes of rock. We all remember that one childhood visit to the charity shop, Grandmother in tow, where you were forced to look at things that had holes in, smelt bad or had a suspicious stain located somewhere on the garment. So, here are a few tips to bear in mind when shopping for vintage.
1. If it doesn’t fit, don’t buy it.
One of the biggest problems with vintage shopping is that not only do you have to find something beautiful, but you also have to find it in your size. This can often lead to a culture of ‘it practically fits’ and ‘so it’s a little tight, who cares?’. Trust me, you’ll soon get sick of wearing that which doesn’t fit and before you know it, it will be at the back of your wardrobe, forgotten about.
2. Vintage does not mean shabby.
If it’s not in wearable condition, don’t wear it. A scratch or two here and there or a missing button aren’t major flaws – sometimes they even add character. However, an overtly visible rip or stain is far from stylish. If it’s not something unnoticeable or something you can easily fix then you won’t wear it so don’t buy it, regardless of how cheap it is.
3. Think about current trends and classic style.
When thinking of how to incorporate vintage into your wardrobe, it’s best to divide pieces into two sections, those that are classic and those that are on trend. On trend pieces are items that fit a current trend, be it a vintage midnight blue blazer that fits S/S 11’s colour trend or a vintage aviator jacket for A/W 10’s Burberry induced trend. A classic piece is something that transcends trends and is timelessly stylish. Perhaps a vintage tan trench, tweed blazer or leather brogues.
Where to shop vintage:
Shopping for vintage can often be a tricky ordeal, especially if you live outside of a major city. On the other hand, don’t assume that vintage stores are confined to London’s East end. For those who don’t live around the corner from Brick Lane or down the road from Portobello Market, there are many other places you can pick up a vintage find.
1. Check your local charity shop.
Charity shops are a great place to start looking for vintage bargains and just because it’s not a specialist vintage store it doesn’t mean you won’t find something worthwhile. Plus, because all the stock is donated, as opposed to being bought in, you can often find pieces for a lot cheaper than you would in a specialist store.
2. Check eBay.
EBay is a fantastic resource when shopping for vintage. In fact, myself and fellow Fashion Beans writer/vintage lover Ashley Cover, are both known to have spent a fair few evenings browsing the latest listings. However, it’s important to remember that you can’t try these items on and returns are rarely accepted when things don’t fit so ensure you double check all measurements and details carefully before you buy.
3. Check online.
Over the last few years, as the popularity of vintage has soared, more and more vintage stores are popping up online as a means of reaching more customers. One of London’s premier vintage destinations, Beyond Retro, a store that has long been a hit with stylists, fashion editors and fashionistos alike, has recently opened the virtual doors of its online shop. With a whole catalogue of clothes and accessories, all of which are easily findable thanks a detailed filtering option, Beyond Retro (www.beyondretro.com) is definitely worth a bookmark on your toolbar.
4. Family Members.
Family members are undoubtedly one of the best sources of vintage. Old, unwanted or heirloom pieces have two amazing qualities. Firstly, they have a great personal story behind them and secondly, they’re probably free!
Editor Addition: ASOS Marketplace
ASOS have just launched their own ‘marketplace’ section of their site, and it looks like it could be a superb resource for second hand buys, vintage pieces and up and coming designers. You could potentially list your old items on there and make some money for your new season additions OR scour it for some wonderful vintage clothing. If you spend the time checking it everyday I am sure you will find some bargains, as well as some great shops listing in there:
So, you’ve browsed online, checked your local charity shop, pestered your Father and you still can’t find that perfect item? Well then look no further than the virtual high street. With both vintage and heritage styles becoming such staples of our own modern aesthetic, many high street and designer retailers are looking to the past for inspiration in their collections. Topman’s ‘Made in England’ range, a celebration of British Heritage at its best, is a prime example.
The Vintage Look Book
Armed with your new found knowledge of how, where and, most importantly, why to shop, you’ll soon become a hardened vintage veteran. All that’s left for me to do is provide a spot of inspiration to get you started.