How to Buy Vintage Clothing Online

vintage french dress

I’m frequently asked where I buy most of my vintage items.  As you know, I shop at my local thrift stores and the flea, but I also buy a lot of pieces on Etsy and eBay.  Just like a trip to thrift store or flea market requires scouring for gems, it’s a lot of work finding vintage online, but it’s well worth it! I like Etsy and eBay because I can shop while sitting around in my PJs or when I’m suffering from insomnia. I figure I might as well make sure of a sleepless night with some shopping.

Here are my 4 tips on how to buy vintage clothing online:

1. Specificity rules. Identify what item or piece you want and then start your search being as specific as possible.  For example, I searched “vintage french dress with cut outs” on eBay and found this dress.  I had seen a beautiful 1940s Parisian dress at a high end vintage store that had fringe and beautiful cutouts.  It was $400 so I said, “I love you, but I can’t buy you!”  I came home immediately and starting searching.  Being specific will return only a handful of items, but remember you’re shopping for a unique item, not the latest trend. From there broaden your search as needed, but you’ll be surprised by what you find even searching for really unique items.

2. Allocate time. My husband calls my online habit the black hole of vintage shopping because it sucks me in for hours at a time! You don’t need to be a marathon online shopper like me, but dedicate about 30-60 minutes hunting online, which is what you would do at the flea market or thrift store!

3. Negotiate.  The upside of shopping on Etsy and eBay is that you know how long an item has been listed for sale.  Use this to your advantage!  I negotiated the price on a Vintage Valentino coat from $300 down to $150 because the coat had been listed for 9 months! If you see an item you like from a seller, peruse the shop’s other items and ask for a deal if you purchase both items.  Remember to be realistic and respectful when negotiating!

4. Know your Measurements.  Modern and vintage sizing differ so before you shop online know your measurements.  This will ensure that you don’t limit your search by size and that you purchase something that will fit.  This dress was a bit large in the bust, but a quick trip to my tailor and $15 later, it fits like a dream.

Vintage Dress (love this, this and this – all vintage) | Vintage Bag | Heels | J. Crew Hat | NARS Lipstick in Heatwave

vintage maxi dress fringe vintage dress vintage dress with cuts french vintage dress

how to buy vintage clothing online

7 Comments

  1. August 11, 2015 / 10:15 pm

    I absolutely love this! Now I’m on the hunt to find something similar! Thanks for the great tips.

    • August 12, 2015 / 2:39 pm

      I’m glad you found the tips helpful. Let me know if you find anything! xx

  2. August 12, 2015 / 9:56 am

    Ugh. The back of that dress is dreamy! I love all of your tips Annette! I wish I had the patience to shop for vintage more often.

    • August 14, 2015 / 8:41 am

      Thanks so much! I’m glad you found the tips useful. xx Annette

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