Vintage fashion has been stealing the hearts of trendsetters and thrift shoppers for decades, and walking down our high street, it’s clear that vintage clothing isn’t going anywhere. What’s old will once become new again, as we continue to embrace trends from the days gone by.
Designers are consistently inspired by vintage fashion, including Rixo London, who are absolutely on fire at the moment. I have initially fallen in love with Rixo for their signature vintage-inspired prints and luxury silk fabrics, which FYI are all hand-created by the owners Henriette and Orlagh themselves.
However, I rarely buy my clothes from high street stores, my style leans more towards to eras gone by. Personally, I just love the quality, detail and skill that was put into making dresses in the 60’s and 70’s. I frequently mix and match vintage dresses and skirts with high quality or designer accessories, switching up the style with today’s key pieces.
Another reason I love a good vintage buy? Once upon a time, garments were not as excessively produced, fabrics were stronger, and almost everything was made in the UK. Without the mass production of today’s clothing, it also means you’re unlikely to spot someone wearing the same outfit.
To feed my love for vintage clothing, I need to shop wisely. I find that charity shops (thrift stores in USA) are much more competitively priced than a bona fide vintage store.
Here is my basic guide to nifty thrifting;
1) Be familiar with your charity
Some charity shops are run for profit, so this doesn’t apply to them; for the rest, knowing who sponsors the shop may offer helpful insight into what you’ll find there — or motivation to support specific shops.
Contrary to popular belief, most charity stores do not exist to provide cheap goods for the poor — they survive to raise money to sustain their organization’s missions. Here’s what a few of the major shops support;
Oxfam: Oxfam’s programmes address the structural causes of poverty and related injustice and work chiefly through neighbouring accountable organizations, seeking to improve their effectiveness.
Tenovus: Tenovus Cancer Care now spends around £1M on research each year both on laboratory research to help develop new treatments for cancer, and research in the community to help local people and their families.
British Heart Foundation: The British Heart Foundation’s main focal point is to fund cardiovascular research, aiming to spend around £100 million a year funding scientists around the UK.
2) Give back
Don’t overlook dropping off the belongings you no longer use or need when you’re at the charity shop! Most of us have a mound of stuff to give away “someday” — old clothes, an idle piece of furniture, a box of books pulled from the shelf to make more room. When you’re heading to the shop, pack it up and take it with you. Decluttering will help your own mind, and help someone else at the same time.
3) Go on, try it on!
Even the most confident of us dread the task of squeezing into clothes and staring into mirrors under the worst lighting known to man kind. Trust me, thrift shopping requires a quick costume change.
Vintage clothes especially from 50’s, 60’s and 70’s do not have the same sizing as we do nowadays, people were considerably smaller. A vintage size 14 can run as a modern UK size 10. Not all charity shops have a refund policy either, which defeats the original purpose of saving money.
4) Don’t be afraid to leave without buying
Thrifting isn’t like other shopping, where you go in with a inventory of what you want, get it, and go.
Thrifting is a scavenger hunt, where you can anticipate and dream about the definitive bargain but have to anticipate not finding it. Half the fun is in the searching, and you’ll learn to love the rummage.
If you’re new to thrifting, please feel free to use these pointers to help you make the most of a visit to a charity shop near you and remember it’s all for a great cause.