Since I started buying more vintage clothes last year, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how I do it. Personally, I love the act of rifling through racks of clothes and finding the odd treasure here and there, but I know most people probably don’t have the same enjoyment or patience for this the way I do. Stepping into a thrift store or even sorting through listings on Poshmark or Etsy can feel overwhelming to a lot of people, but luckily there’s an easier way to find great vintage and second-hand items.
There are certain clothing items and accessories that are super easy to find at thrift stores and certain things that take more time and investigation. I find that if you’re not in the mood to do a super detailed search, going directly to these sections below (rather than going rack by rack) can save you a lot of time and effort, and you’re still likely to find some cool stuff.
The Easiest Things To Buy Vintage & Second-Hand:
- Trousers: Trousers are having a moment, but they’re also one of the easiest things to buy from a thrift store, or even online. I find that the pants section of a thrift store are usually more organized and color-coordinated than the tops (which are often a mess of prints and materials that make you want to run away screaming), so if you know you’re looking for some black high-waisted trousers, you can go directly to that section of the store and search through maybe 20-30 things, rather than over 100. Pro tip? Don’t forget the men’s section, especially if you’re looking for that cool masculine, pleated/oversized look that is so chic at the moment.
- Blazers: Same goes for blazers. Oversized, boxy vintage blazers are having their moment too, and they’re also pretty easy to find. Like their trouser counterparts, they’re often grouped together in the store and there’s just a lot less of them overall, so it doesn’t feel too overwhelming to look through them (again, don’t forget the men’s section!). Things like blazers and trousers that have forgiving silhouettes (like oversized or wide-leg/flowy) are also much easier to buy online at places like Etsy, where you really just need to know your measurements to see if an item will be in the right size range, rather than buying something fitted that needs to be closer to your actual size. Most vintage stores are final-sale, so it’s better to buy things that don’t require a perfect fit just in case.
- Sweaters: I have found some GEMS in the sweater section at thrift stores, from fisherman cardigans to mohair and angora knits and so on. And like the above items, since sweaters don’t need to fit ‘perfectly’ (in fact, I prefer when sweaters are more relaxed/boyfriend style), you don’t have to stress about finding your exact size. The good ones are also easier to spot from the rack, since sweaters tend to be thicker and take up more space, plus the material is often visible at just a glance (like my trusty aforementioned fisherman’s and mohair finds).
- Silks: I love silk, and it seems like vintage items were much more often made of it than they are today. Silk blouses and dresses are pretty easy to see if you’re just glancing at the rack (since they shine, duh!), and like all the other items mentioned still look good if they’re a little too big. If I’m ever not in the mood to search through the whole rack of tops I’ll usually just scan through it and stop only at items that feel/look like silk. Stopping to look at every top (the majority of which are all polyester or crappy quality) is probably what overwhelms 99% of people who don’t like shopping at thrift stores, in my opinion. You can’t go wrong with a silk blouse, so if you just search through the silky items, you’ll save yourself a lot of time.
- Shoes: Believe it or not, shoes are relatively easy to find vintage. My whole strategy of quickly shopping at thrift stores is to just identify what might be good by scanning visually rather than spending lots of time searching through every item, and the shoes section is great to do this in. You can just walk the aisle and scan to see what looks cute. While you might not always be able to find a shoe in your exact size, sometimes you’ll get lucky. And apps like Etsy make this even easier, where you can search by your size. And luckily, certain vintage styles are super in right now and more widely available, like 90s strappy sandals or square-toed boots.
Do you guys have any tips for shopping vintage? Share with me below!
Top | Nordstrom
Blazer | Closed (similar here)
Pants | INO Vintage (similar here)
Sandals | Schutz
Bag | Zara
Photos by Gabriel Bienczycki