How To Get The Most Out Of Shopping For Vintage Online

Buying second-hand clothing has become increasingly popular over the years. In fact, the second-hand market is flourishing worldwide and is expected to grow 127% by 2026 according to the ThredUp 2022 resale report. Some love shopping second-hand because of the thrill of the hunt, others are looking to reduce their environmental impact, and many just love the appeal of used clothing. No matter the reason for buying second-hand pieces, it is a sure way to get an iconic look that few others will be able to acquire, especially if you are buying vintage.

Vintage pieces are typically unique with few of each item remaining in the world, as many others have been thrown out. Whether they are from lesser-known brands or high-end designers, it is often a challenge to find exactly what you are looking for at an appropriate price point. Though, when you find the piece you have been on the hunt for, the thrill will make up for all the effort. Since many of us don't live near vintage stores and have little time to consistently go check for our desired pieces, we have resorted to shopping for vintage pieces online. Shopping for vintage online comes with its own set of challenges, but also comes with a unique set of rewards. If you are looking to get vintage pieces you love while shopping online, you aren't alone. This is why we have curated five tips and tricks to help you get the most out of shopping for vintage clothing online.

Know where to start

Not every resale website has a large selection of vintage clothing and sometimes, Googling brings up an overwhelming amount of links making you unsure of where to turn next. When beginning the hunt for vintage pieces, know the websites to start on. A great way to find vintage clothing stores online is by scrolling through Instagram hashtags, which can help you find smaller vintage stores that you may not find in a Google search.

YouTube creator Chloe Lajoie includes small businesses when speaking on the best places to buy vintage, including TMC Vintage Clothing, Restated Vintage, and LNF. All of these businesses provide a wide selection of general vintage clothing that they have curated for resale. This is a great option if you have a general vintage aesthetic and are looking to fill your wardrobe with unique pieces. If you are looking for specific pieces, bigger resale chains where sellers are often listing personal items, such as eBay, Depop, Etsy, TheRealReal, and Vestiaire, are great places to search.

Research brands

If you are looking for a specific piece, but have no preference as to which vintage brand created the piece, it can be easy to be scammed into thinking the item is vintage. When buying vintage online, you will not be able to physically investigate the item's tags and branding, making it easy for a seller to trick you by simply calling a brand "vintage" or listing no brand at all.

When an item is labeled vintage on an app, ensure that you do your research on the brand. Some items are listed as vintage and being sold for outrageous prices, but in reality, they are brands that sell the same items brand new today. Consumers have taken to TikTok to react to ridiculous "vintage" listings on resale websites and apps, such as Depop. TikTok creator @urfashionistafriend made a video addressing some recent listings she had seen on the Depop app, which included a "vintage" trashed Carhartt jacket (that is not truly vintage and being produced today), as well as a jacket from the children's brand, Justice.

Be prepared to wait

Since some true vintage items are few and far between, you may have to wait before one appears. It is often a long search to find a vintage item that you truly love, in your size, in your budget, and in good condition. This is especially true if you are looking for an exact item from a specific designer. A great example of this is the popular Vivianne Westwood corset that features the painting Daphnis and Chloe. Though the Vivienne Westwood brand still sells corsets, they do not sell the one with this painting any longer. "Westwood's original period corset from 1990 also continues to be worn and celebrated as a breakthrough fashion moment of the twentieth century," according to Fashion History Timeline when doing a deep dive into the piece. Though we do see this piece celebrated by celebrities on red carpets, be prepared to wait and pay for this item if you would like it in your own closet, as they are rare to find and often cost over $8,000.

Luckily, with the emergence of online vintage shopping, you don't have to travel back and forth to the vintage store weekly looking to see if the item has turned up. Instead, you can just do a quick daily search for your desired items. This may not make waiting easier on the heart, but it does help you save plenty of time and gas money.

Bargain with sellers

Never be afraid to bargain with vintage sellers for a good price. Not always, but many times, the sellers are most likely charging more than what they paid for these items. Especially on websites such as Depop, eBay, and Poshmark, where reselling has become a profession for some of its users. Reselling has risen in popularity with thrifting, as those who know what styles and brands are popular, specifically vintage, will buy clothing for low costs at a thrift store and charge more on a resale site.

Since this has become a lifestyle for many resellers, never be afraid to bargain if there is an option. Many sellers are looking to move inventory and are expecting you to heckle them to some extent. This is why many sites now even have the option to submit an offer. Depop's YouTube channel has even posted a video explaining that bargaining with your seller is common and you should ask, as long as you don't lowball them with an extremely small amount.

Ask for measurements

Measurements for vintage items are essential. Though something may be your size on the label, that doesn't mean it will fit. "Make sure to ask for the measurements as vintage sizing is sometimes off, so you can't always go by what it says on the label," says Depop seller Selena Williams when speaking about online thrifting to Harper's Bazaar. You will most often be a few sizes bigger in vintage styles than you will be in modern-day clothing.

Many people believe that this is because women in general are bigger today than most women once were. This is simply not the case. Chronically Vintage is a blog focusing on preserving the past and sharing her vintage finds. Vintage collector Jessica speaks on the site about the size difference in today's clothing, where she pulls out a piece from a 1955 Sears magazine that shows their sizing started at a size 10 for a 24.5-inch waist. Size zeroes simply did not exist back then, not because no one had a 24-inch waist, but because the sizing number started higher. This is why it is important to ask your seller for specific measurements before ordering, as many vintage items are bought with a strict no-return policy.