Fashion

5 smart tips for buying vintage fashion

Reused clothing expert Fern Penn shares her secrets.

When it comes to fashion, what's old is often new again.When it comes to fashion, what's old is often new again.When it comes to fashion, what's old is often new again. (Photo: Nejron Photo / Shutterstock)

Every season brings about a hot new trend, and we’re encouraged to jump on the bandwagon. More often than not, we purchase a new item only to have it either fall apart or go out of style by next season.

But what if we slowed down, took stock of what we own, and consumed fashion more consciously?

Model Kyleigh Kuhn’s new 87 Days of Vintage challenge encourages people to do just that by refraining from purchasing anything new for three months and to instead buy vintage items. It’s a challenge that will not only add elegance, character and polish to your wardrobe, but you’ll feel good knowing you consumed better with your pre-loved purchases.

Fern Penn, owner of Madison Avenue boutique Rosebud, knows a thing or two about vintage shopping. She's been in the fashion business for decades and has a vast personal collection of vintage clothes. Her shop stands out from a crowd with a clever twist: It only features clothing from Israeli designers.

Vintage shopping can be tricky, even overwhelming if you’re just starting out, so we stopped by Rosebud for Penn’s top five buying tips for beginners.

1. Be open minded.

Vintage stores can be an avenue to quirky outfits.Vintage stores can be an avenue to quirky outfits. (Photo: Rasstock/Shutterstock)

“Don’t have something specific in your mind that you’re looking for,” says Penn. “Each time you go vintage shopping it’s like a treasure hunt. Go with an open mind, have fun and see what grabs your attention.”


2. Check the condition.

Check the seams before you purchase vintage clothes.Check the seams before you purchase vintage clothes. (Photo: Eugenio Marongiu/Shutterstock)

Hold the garment up to the light to make sure there are no seam splits, holes or patches where the fabric has become too thin and delicate. Pay close attention to the armpit area! Be sure to check that none of the buttons are missing and the zippers are working properly. If there is embroidery, make sure it’s finished.


3. Don’t worry about the size.

Try on vintage clothes to see if they fit instead of looking at the tags.Try on vintage clothes to see if they fit instead of looking at the tags. (Photo: Conrado/Shutterstock)

“I always tell people to just try it on,” says Penn. “It doesn’t matter what the tag says. If it fits great, and if it doesn’t just move on to the next piece.”


4. Do your own research.

With instant access to digital information, shoppers can learn more about the clothes they're buying.With instant access to digital information, shoppers can learn more about the clothes they're buying. (Photo: Luna Vandoorne/Shutterstock)

Good shopkeepers know their garments inside and out, but Penn explained that sales assistants aren’t always reliable. Before you make a purchase on a whim, use your smartphone to dig up the history of the label and information on the brand you’ve selected.


5. Don’t go for something that needs repairs.

When it comes to buying used clothes, make sure they're in tip-top shape.When it comes to buying used clothes, make sure they're in tip-top shape. (Photo: Ann Haritonenko/Shutterstock)

Penn said that when you’re just starting out, it’s just not worth it.

Shopping for vintage fashion can be a fun adventure and even a newfound hobby! Vintage shopping provides a beautiful opportunity to slow down and carefully curate your wardrobe with timeless pieces you’ll enjoy season after season.

Want more? We took a tour of Fern Penn's boutique, unique in that it only sells clothes by Israeli designers.

Lindsay E. Brown is the managing editor of Eco-Chick, the web’s first ethical fashion, beauty and travel site for women. She has written for Whole Living Magazine, Edible, and Cottages & Gardens. Lindsay has been featured as a fashion and beauty expert on the Veria Living Network. Lindsay holds a BS in Global Business Studies and Marketing from Manhattan College, and received the 2012 Honors Award at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

The opinions expressed in blogs and reader comments are those of the writers and do not reflect the opinions of FromtheGrapevine.com. While we have reviewed the content to ensure it complies with our Terms and Conditions, From the Grapevine is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information.

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