Buying vintage clothing can be a real rush, especially when you find a designer piece that you can’t live without, but sometimes vintage shopping can be tricky, here is A Complete Guide On How To Buy Vintage Clothing.

A Complete Guide On How To Buy Vintage Clothing

By design, vintage clothing is at least 30 – 40 years old, I’ve got a quite a few wardrobe staples that I’ve collected from places like Value Village and Common Sort in Toronto.


I’ve seen pieces that I’ve loved but found it hard to know if it’s a rare designer piece, like a Dior blazer, or something from Joe Fresh five seasons ago.

It’s raised a few questions for me, how do you know if it’s worth the price? And how do you know it’s actually vintage?

I chatted with a few people in the fashion industry and at some consignment shops in Toronto to get the best advice.

Here are a few things to keep in mind.



You find the dress you love, but do you really want to spend $100 on it? If you love it, I say buy it, most of the time the item will be in very good condition, meaning that the person who wore it before you probably took really good care of it.

The store owner most likely cleaned and repaired it, getting it ready to be sold.

These are important things to keep in mind, you are paying for an original piece, in most cases, it’s made very well, a lot of care has been taken to get it to you. So, you’re paying for the item as well as the curation of it. And it’s going to last.

A Complete Guide On How To Buy Vintage Clothing


I heard a quote recently “poor people can’t afford cheap clothing”, I swear I can remember my granny saying this too. But it’s really so true. We just don’t make clothing the way we used too. My mom has a few dresses that she has gifted me and they have lasted over 45 years now.

Vintage clothing is made well. Very well.

The age of the item can be determined by the materials it’s made from, so look for natural textiles like silk, cotton, wool, and linen. You don’t tend to see vintage clothing made from polyester or bamboo.

Dress, skirts, blazers, and coats will almost always be lined.

Prior to 1960’s zippers will be made from metal, not plastic.

The label will be stitched into the garment, not glued on.

It will most likely be made in Canada, USA, Italy or France. Chinese manufacturing did not really take off until the 1970’s.

The stitching might be slightly uneven because it was sewn by hand. This is a good thing.

If it seems to good to be true, it probably is. A knock-off is a real issue, but they won’t have some of the details I’ve highlighted above.

Popular knock-offs to look for: Fendi, Lois Vuitton, Chanel, and Hermes. Just to name a few.

If you are not sure, ask lots of questions, in most cases the store owner should be able to trace if it’s an original.


Related post5 Clothing Recycling Mistakes You May Be Making


A Complete Guide On How To Buy Vintage Clothing


Look for items that are lined and structured well.

Look for damage like holes from moths.

Is the item faded?

Are there buttons or other hardware missing?

Does it smell or is it stained (normally under the arms, collar, and inseam)?

Do you think the stain can be removed? If it’s oil based, probably not.

Is it torn anywhere, can it be fixed?

Will it need to be altered at all?

Will the quality of the fabric stand the test of time,  things made from silk and lace are harder to care for.

Have you tried it on? Sizes have changed drastically over time.

Create a budget and keep that number in mind when shopping.

Change your expectations, vintage shopping should be fun

Know where to shop:

  • Consignment shops that have a good reputation
  • Thrift shops and charity shops
  • Your neighborhood garage sales
  • Your mom’s or granny’s closet

If shopping online:

  • the safest bets for online shopping include knitwear, coats, and blouses because they fit over several sizes
  • Pay close attention to the measurements given online
  • Make sure there is a return policy
  • Don’t forget duties and taxes still apply
  • Purchase from a reputable seller who deals in authentic pre-owned goods – this goes for shopping in-store too



A Complete Guide On How To Buy Vintage Clothing

Candice Batista

Candice Batista is an award winning Environmental Journalist and one of Canada’s leading eco advocates. Her career spans national and international media outlets, where she has used her background in environmental studies and media & communications to produce and report on various environmental and climate issues for primarily television and digital audiences including Huffington Post, The Globe & Mail, The Weather Network, CityTV, Rogers Television, The Pet Network, iChannel, and CTV, where she is currently the National Eco Expert for the stations number 1 daytime talk show, The Marilyn Denis Show.
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