Vintage Hunting the Right Way

fleamarketMaybe you’ve been there: swatting hanger after hanger at Crossroads, finding only secondhand goods from Forever 21 and H&M that sell for practically the same price as a new item of clothing. How do you snag the truly one-of-a-kind pieces that add zing to an outfit? It’s really having the eye for cut, material and a wow factor. Keep these three things in mind, and your next vintage excursion might turn up a head-turning number to treasure in your closet.


One telltale difference between cheap and expensive clothing is the cut of the clothing. Well-made, tailored clothing pays extra attention to detail and fit. Check the quality of the craftsmanship: the seams around the bust and waist, the construction of a jacket around the shoulders down through the sleeve to the wrist. Because vintage stores don’t necessarily carry several sizes of one dress, decide if you’re willing to have it professionally tailored.

Know Your Material

Once upon a time, a dress was needed for a cousin’s wedding. Instead of spending a $100 on a dress, a surprise find in a Buffalo Exchange turned up a silk beige dress for only $20. The dress was in pretty good condition, without any tears. The selling point: Silk. Know the quality of natural fabrics, such as 100 percent silk or silk chiffon, wool, cashmere and cotton. These fabrics are generally higher quality than polyester or other synthetic materials.

Wow Factor

Taste and style are open to interpretation, and this section is all about knowing yourself and finding clothing that shows off the best part of your personality or bodily assets to the world. That’s the wow factor – and that goes for any garment, not just vintage items.

Maybe you’re on the hunt for statement vintage pieces, which would include anything older than 20 years. Try to look for high-fashion name brands, such as Chanel, Givenchy or Christian Dior. Or, snatch up classic American brands, such as an old pair of Levi’s or a Calvin Klein dress. Also look for clothing truly iconic of an era, such as 1960s mod dresses, 1920s flapper dresses and 1940s full-skirted dresses. Older, iconic name brand pieces of clothing in pristine condition are most coveted. These items will have collector’s value, should you ever feel the need to resell.

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