Thrift Store Hunting

it’s vintage darling

it’s vintage darling

those boots in the back of your closet from 2005 you forgot about ain’t vintage, they just old sis. 


So the new thing out here in these fashion streets is vintage. No matter where you turn, some fashion “it” girl (deemed that by way of her massive IG following that may or may not be paid for), is showing off her vintage tee or Levis or Chanel purse. It seems as if everyone is hopping on the vintage bandwagon including major retailers. Urban Outfitters has Urban Renewal, Asos has Asos Marketplace and Topshop has The New Vintage. We, the hipster millennials we are, flock to these places to pay way more money than we should for something, that if we are willing to dig a bit, could find for ourselves for a fraction of the price. Y’all do know these retailers just go to local vintage shops, estate sales and thrift stores across the country, mark up the items 100 percent and sell it to us? But we buy it, so who’s the dummy?  If you want to skip the middleman, I’m going to give you a few pointers on what to look for and a few places you should be looking in to find the vintage piece of your dreams. 

Warning: Vintage shopping can get addictive and cause you to spend way more money than you should. But at least you’ll look good in that cardboard box on the side of the road. 

First let’s define what vintage is cause some of y’all got the game messed up! Vintage is defined as anything over 20 years old. So like some wise woman said, it’s most certainly not those boots in the back of your closet from 2005 you forgot about. Once you find a few true blue vintage items, you will be able to spot more from a mile away but since I assume you’re starting out on this journey, let me give you some tips on how to spot it. 

Tags: The biggest tell tell sign if something is vintage is the tag. I ALWAYS check the tag of an item to determine if I’ve struck gold or if I’m looking at something that’s old but not older. Vintage Life has the most comprehensive article regarding vintage tags and it’s a must read if you’re looking into building a small or large collection of vintage pieces!

Fabric: The most commonly used fabric for vintage clothing are cotton, rayon (very popular vintage fabric), wool, silk and linen. Knowing the textures of these fabrics will help make it easier for you to spot vintage; especially in the wild. Vintage Visage has a really good article on how to spot these fabrics and it’s worth a read! 

Zipper: This is a tip for all the vintage dress loves out there. Zippers nowadays are made of plastic but zippers from years past were almost always metal and almost always put in on the side of the garment. If you spot a dress with a metal side zip, you are most likely looking at something that’s vintage. 

Logos: If you’re into the “modern vintage”; Polo, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Champion…etc, the logos plastered all over the item will be the tell if your item is legit vintage. If you’re shopping in a thrift store be sure to have Google handy so you can do a quick search to compare logos to  logos. 

if you really want good vintage you gotta work for it or you gotta pay for it.  

-a very smart guy on youtube

There’s an abundance of places you can get your vintage fix. You can go the route of going to a place that has done the legwork for you or you can find it yourself, for me I do a bit of both. If I’m really looking for a certain piece I’ll hit up brick and mortar shops or online dealers but most times I’m down for a good hunt and opt for estate sales and thrift stores. 

Brick and Mortar Vintage Shops: A good way to ensure that tee shirt you’re wearing is in fact a vintage one is to shop at a vintage shop. These shops curate the best of the best vintage pieces from across the country and for some the world and bring them to you. Keep in mind you may pay a pretty penny for it but all the hard work is done for you so it may be worth it.

some of my favs (local to RVA)

Halycon Vintage/Rosewood Clothing Co./Addison Handmade & Vintage

World Wide Web: My favorite online source for vintage is Etsy. This is an online marketplace for vintage and artisan made items and they are VERY strict about those rules. I’ve personally been shopping on Etsy for 10 year now and have purchased more than my fair share of vintage dresses from different sellers over the years and have never been disappointed. It can be very overwhelming, so I suggest you narrow down your search and get lost in the sea of vintage goodies! 

some of my favs

Aligras Vintage/Circa 1955 Vintage/Jett Villa Store

Instagram: It seems like every day I come across a new IG vintage shop and I ain’t mad at it! These IG shops are always super cutated and have the BEST fit models styled to the nines; makes it had to not wanna buy everything. One word of caution, do your research to ensure they aren’t labeling something as vintage when its really not. 

some of my favs

Na Nin Vintage/Courtyard LA/Elia Vintage/Iam That Shop

Estate Sales: Just call them upscale thrift stores lol! Let me tell you Grandma and Grandpa were hoarders, have some good shit in the attic and the kids don’t know those Wrangler Jeans are $100 on Asos Marketplace! Most likely the vintage shop you love so much has hit up an estate sale or two so if you don’t want to pay up for that vintage tee, I suggest you start there.  

Thrift Stores: It’s very possible to find vintage in the wild but it’s tricky. You have to know what you’re looking for, be prepared to dig for it and have the patience of Job because it may take a few trips to find what you’re looking for. I’ve found some of my most treasured vintage pieces from my local thrift stores and I’m typically not going to pay my grocery money to get it. If you want to save a few coins and look for vintage in the wild, please do your research before you head out! 

I hope this was helpful to and let me know what vintage goodies you score! 



Photos by Sandy Swagger Jones