SAILORETTE'SVintage Life & Style

Sailorette's Guide to Affordable Vintage: Twitter Tips & More

How do you do, darlings? It just so happens while on holiday I casually stirred a bit of a conversation on the topic of affordable vintage on Twitter. I have a very personal stanza on the topic; each and every vintage frock I own has been acquired with nothing but budget gymnastics, which include shop profits, saving and scraping, purchase planning and a lot of bargain hunting. This often gets frustrating when you can't afford all of the basic closet staples when you need them, for instance. Still, I don't believe you have to sacrifice cash for style or style for cash, and so I'm starting a new feature - Sailorette's Guide to Affordable Vintage.

Today, I'd like to share some of the fabulous tips I received from Twitter - and some of my own.
Miss Sailorette ‏@Sailorettes
I know y'all get Primark etc in UK, but how does one stay on budget buying vintage? I clearly need @Retrochick_uk's thrifting skills!

  • Gemma Seager ‏@Retrochick_uk ·
    @f8andbethere @Sailorettes eBay and a lot of time in charity shops! Also a bit of imagination!
    I buy a lot of 70s and 80s stuff that has the right style!

  • Darlings Vintage ‏@darlingsvintage ·
    @Sailorettes Always keep your eyes open. Be prepared to haggle and put some time in. Also eBay can be quite good if it ends daytime!

My advice:

  • Plan ahead. Look through your cupboard and think what you need by order of priority - if you can only invest in one or a few items for a certain period, might as well get the most pluck for your buck.

  • Ebay and Etsy are fantastic, but buying local can be even cheaper. Be in the know about estate sales, flea markets, car boot sales and thrift shops. Ask friends or research about them before to prevent disapointment.

  • If buying on Ebay or Etsy, bare in mind you're not the only person looking to buy 1940s/1950s/19?? vintage. As so, items that are correctly tagged, well photographed and thoroughly described will most likely come with a matching price tag. Try to research with fewer key words, use the "Order by Price: Lowest to Highest" tool and don't diss the least well presented items - you can always contact sellers for more information and photos! Same goes for sellers who don't have worldwide shipping quotes included - many will be willing to post to your country upon request.

  • From my personal experience, research time pays off. And by this I don't mean just hours trawling your favourite haunts; the more you read up and flick through era catalogues and pictures, the more prepared you'll be to identify hidden gems or possible "80s does 50s"/high street reproduction style bargains.

  • If you're looking to buy for less, it's likely you can't afford customs. Always be in the know about your country's restrictions (some European countries may confiscate real fur items from outside Europe, for instance) and charges that may be applied in order to receive the item. This will prevent a lot of headaches and disappointment as this process is never quick and easy.

  • Mind the details. It's hard not to get extatic when you find a designer dress in a thrift shop but you might want to check thoroughly for wear and tear, stains, smells... It's also important to remember to have a measuring tape at arm's length at home (buying online) or when out shopping, so you don't have to try on every single frock. Knowing your size well is important to ensure fit, and you might avoid ending up paying more than you'd like to alter the piece, or not being able to get in it!

  • Quality does win over quantity. Some eras were more extravagant than others as far as closet consumerism goes but creativity was present in all of them. And that you must have to ensure you can coordinate most your pieces among each other so you never tire of them, and don't have to shop as often. Of course a well made piece, even from an off the rack collection, will have you feeling like a million bucks when compared to a remotely similar thread off H&M's latest collection for a similar, if not higher, price. This also means its likely a 50s piece is made better than an "80s does", and that leather, silks and other natural materials will not only endure time's trials better than their man made fibre counterparts, but also very likely feel different.

  • Quantity may mean quality bargain when combining postage on cheaper items, or looking for smaller things such as jewellery, though. A lot of sellers put together lots of the same type, colour scheme or era which sell for fairly cheap in comparison, and you don't have to be a shop or merchant to buy them. Do remember to check for size, condition and other relevant features!

  • Patience is key. Its unlikely you'll find a $12 Swing Coat in December, but why not try in August? Buying off season means there's a lot more items available at appealing prices and a lot less people buying them, so you have more time to weigh your options.

  • Have fun! Isn't that the whole point of fashion?

I'd love to know your own tips and suggestions, how did you come to build your own vintage closet?

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Thank you for your comments & feedback!
Mafalda xox