Are More People Shopping for Vintage In This Economy?

Welcome to Guest Blogger Thursday! Every other day I see fashion bloggers showcasing some amazing vintage store finds. Do you think the focus on vintage fashions has increased with the decline of the economy? Our vintage expert guest blogger Deanna of Things Your Grandmother Knew weighs in. Check out her blog to read more about vintage fashions, and to see snippets from her impressive collection of vintage magazines.

With all the current focus on the economy and comparisons to The Great Depression, it’s become quite vogue for fashion publications to preach about the virtues & values of buying vintage clothing & accessories. In theory it makes sense because buying vintage means much cheaper prices than buying new — even rare vintage designer pieces are quite often less expensive than new modern designer couture.  But in practice…?

Vintage Popularity Boom: Truth or Fiction?

**There’s been a lot of press lately that the biggest spending has been in the area of ahem intimate adult products because people are staying home to save money. If that’s true, people need a lot less clothing!


And while some folks may be turning to vintage to pinch a few pennies, mostly what I hear from new-comers is how frustrated they are by it; shopping for vintage fashion is not the same experience as shopping at your local mall or department store.

Because “old &/or used clothing” is usually either worn-out or thrown-out, not much of it survives, leaving each piece found to be a one-of-a-kind (or darn near it). This means that even shopping for something simple, like a black skirt or a white blouse, is even more difficult than finding your size in the clearance racks at Macy’s… And that’s before you factor in the trouble of finding a vintage item in your size.

Try Vintage On for Size

Sure, the relatively small number of vintage garments for sale automatically limits size availability; but then there’s the matter of what I call the time-size-spread.  The time-size-spread doesn’t (only!) refer to what happens to our individual hips overtime, but has happened to the collective American body too.  Women were smaller than today… They were shorter, affecting where waistlines rest, hemlines land, and sleeves sit at the wrists.  People were slighter too. Not just due to build being relatively proportionate to height (some of which is based on nutrition as well), but because those from decades before us physically worked much harder than we do and had more compact figures.  Combine this with no real uniform size standards, and you can’t necessarily just go to a rack & grab the same size you would at Bloomie’s.

If I sound negative about buying vintage fashion; I’m not.  I and plenty of others thrive on the challenge of thrifty thrilling discoveries which not only are fun to wear but make other fashionista’s turn green with envy (both in terms of the uniqueness of our finds and the wad of cash left in our fabulous vintage handbags).  But searching for vintage clothing and accessories is as much a hobby as it is a passion for fashion; to be happy in your hunting you should be prepared for the labor (of love!) involved.

But, hey, since it’s part hobby, you can feel quite justified to dip into your “entertainment” budget too.

Tips for Navigating the Murky Vintage Waters

**Should you decide to stick your toe into the pool of vintage fashion shopping (and I hope you do!), here’s a few things to help you in the pursuit of unique fashions at thrifty prices:


  • Measure yourself. Everywhere; bust, shoulders, around your arm, arm length, waist, hips, inseam — as much as you can.  And carry these measurements with you.  (Keep them nearby when shopping for vintage fashions online too.)
  • Measure the clothing. Along with your measurements, carry a measuring tape with you so that you can measure garments on the rack/hanger.  Measurements aren’t a guarantee of perfect fit or meant to replace the fitting room experience, but they’ll help you weed out garments which will not fit you and you won’t have to exhaust yourself in the fitting room or waiting for one.  (Many vintage shops have very limited and small fitting rooms, so you may have to wait a bit to get in.)  When shopping online, you are encouraged to contact the vintage fashion seller regarding any measurements not listed &/or you are unsure about.
  • Measure your time.  Shopping for vintage fashions isn’t a “just a quick dash into the store” sort of a thing.  Give yourself plenty of time to shop.  Making it a leisurely experience will add to your fun.  Plus you never know what you’ll find roaming the racks — like this retro bowling shirt score for hubby! This goes for online shopping too.  (Browse page by page, linger looking in a category rather than just using a site search etc.)
  • Gauge your expectations. Expect to go home empty handed.  Not only is this possible, but for some of us (based on size, fashion tastes, wallet etc.) it happens more often than not… Feel free to talk about the fab finds that got away — fishermen do it, why not shoppers hunting for elusive vintage clothing and accessories?

And above all, when you capture a vintage fashion, brag, brag, brag! Show it off as a trophy like any big game hunter would do — you’ve earned it!