Top 5 Vintage Shopping Tips

Posted On Wednesday, October 19th, 2011
Filed Under: Looking FLY on a Dime, shopping, Thrift Stores

Esther Woo Vintage, vintage shopping tips

This summer I briefly introduced you guys to Esther Woo Vintage, the online shop with unique, affordable pieces. Well, I wanted to chat with the owner, Beverly Edmonds, and give you some vintage shopping tips from the woman who’s made a career out of fashion.

“I’ve always loved “old stuff” and have been into fashion since I was very young. I’ve worked in retail for years and have been shopping in thrift stores for just as long,” says Beverly. So a little more than five months ago, she started Esther Woo Vintage. The e-commerce site is fully stocked with funky purses, statement blazers, ladylike dresses, skirts and blouses.

If you’re a little unsure about vintage shopping {sizing, how to identify a vintage item, etc}, Beverly has some quick and easy tips.

Q: How can you tell a garment is vintage?
A: Zippers can tell you a lot about a vintage item. A metal zipper on a dress {versus a nylon zipper on a modern piece} can be an indication of an older vintage piece. Also, look for tags that specify a location. Most of these tags will mention a popular city or state. A union tag or “Made in the USA” label is also a good indication. The Vintage Fashion Guild is a great online resource for dating pieces.

vintage union tag

Q: Sizes are different now than they were decades ago. How do you know what will fit?
A: Try everything on. Clothing almost never fits the body similar to how it may appear on the hanger so it’s a must to try everything on. When it comes to pants I will usually hold it to my waist and hips (pay attention to the fabric that is used and whether or not it stretches). If the item is a dress with a zipper and you can’t slip it on for whatever reason, a trick is to unzip the item, slip your arms into the sleeves and pull it up onto your shoulders. This will show you whether or not it will fit your bust and how it will fit your body in general.


Q: What if you’re buying vintage online and can’t try the clothes on?
A: Know your measurements! If you don’t have a tape measure then pick up a free one the next time you go to IKEA or something. Do whatever you have to do, but know your measurements. When buying vintage items online people will almost always list measurements. It’s important to not only know your measurements, but to also take into consideration how the item is supposed to fit. For example, if you are looking at a dress that is meant to be slightly oversized, then you may not want to buy it if the measurements are the exact same as yours. It never hurts to measure a similar item that you already own and compare it to the item you are looking at. If you find yourself at a total loss, you can always contact the seller. Most sellers have no problem with sending you additional pictures or comparing your measurements to that of the item. {Edit Note: Esther Woo Vintage has a handy size guide to make online shopping easy.}

Q: If you find a vintage piece you love, but it needs a little repair, is it worth purchasing?
A: When it comes to repairing an item you have to know your limits, what resources are available to you and have a good understanding of the fabric. A lot of items are washable, which is great, but when you start purchasing older items you will need to take into consideration that the fabric used may be very delicate and not washable or easy to repair. A stain on a vintage item may have been there for 20+ years, making it almost impossible to remove.  You really never know until you try so if anything, just make sure you are prepared to be stuck with an item that can’t be fixed. If you have a dry clean only item that is full of stains then you may not want to get it, but if the item is cheap enough to experiment with, I say go for it.

Secretary Dress

Q: What about plus size vintage shopping, are there options out there?
A: I always hear so many plus size women say they don’t think that vintage is for them, which is just not true. I agree that a lot of vintage stores don’t carry plus size items, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. At Esther Woo Vintage, I try to always have items that fit larger sizes and hope to have a full plus size section on my site in the future. When it comes to plus size women, items from the 80s are your friend. In the 80s a lot of items were made to be oversized which is great if you’re looking for larger sizes. Bat wing sleeves look great on plus size ladies as do a lot of secretary dresses and blouses from the 70s and 80s, shift and bohemian dresses and party dresses from the 50s or 60s. Outerwear is another area where larger sizes are easy to find.

Be sure to follow Esther Woo Vintage on Twitter and like the Facebook page for updates on recently added items and any last minute sales.

***Discount Alert***

Beverly wasn’t just awesome enough to offer up some tips and tricks, she’s giving Looking Fly on a Dime readers a discount at Esther Woo Vintage. Just head to Esther Woo Vintage and enter promo code “flyonadime” for 20 percent off {valid from October 19-October 26}.

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6 thoughts on “Top 5 Vintage Shopping Tips

  1. Pingback: Where to Buy Vintage Online « Sammy Davis Vintage

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