One of my favorite places to shop for clothing is at the flea market. I love sharing these finds with you over on Instagram stories and many of you have asked how to shop for clothing at the flea market. The number one feedback I get, is that the flea market is very overwhelming so it’s impossible to know where to start. Shopping for vintage clothing at the flea market doesn’t have to be complicated – and it’s not in reality! Here’s a little guide to help you on your next flea market shopping trip.
The best place to start for beginners is to make a list of items you want to shop for, such as linen skirt or denim jacket. This will help you stay focused as you’re shopping around and hitting up all the different vendors. Another trick for refining your search is to focus on your budget. Most flea markets have $5 areas where vendors have bins that are filled to the brim with deals, while other vendors are pricier – know what you want to spend so you know where to shop.
Shopping for Vintage Clothing at the Flea Market
1. Not all textiles are created equal. I prefer shopping for cotton, silk, leather, suede, and velvet. I always double check the garment tag or ask the vendor when in doubt. Also, feel the fabric especially if it’s leather or silk to make sure it’s still soft and not stiff, sticky, or especially scratchy. While you’re checking on the fabric, be sure to do a scan for stains, rips or tears. Don’t spend money on items with tears or rips (unless it’s denim and the rips are exactly where you want them) since they’ll be impossible to repair even with the best tailor.
2. Don’t expect everything to be cheap. Vintage is trendy. Flea markets are trendy. Shopping for vintage at flea markets is tres trendy so don’t expect deals and steals everywhere. You’ll find some great prices, but know that you will have to spend a little extra for higher quality and trendy pieces. Most flea markets still have their budget section, so be sure to hit up the $5 bins first to see if you can find what you’re looking for there before you head to other sections.
3. Don’t skip the fitting room (or awkward try on). Some vendors will have a makeshift fitting room. If they do, don’t skip it. If there isn’t a fitting room, then try to pull the piece on over your clothing (a reason why you should always wear easy to slide on/off pieces like leggings and a tank). An easy trick for determining if pants or a skirt will fit your waist, is the good old neck-wraparound. Take the garment by the waist and wrap around your neck. If the fabric touches, it’s a perfect fit. If it overlaps, then it’ll be too big and if doesn’t touch, then it will be too small.
4. Stick to the classics. It’s easy to get overwhelmed at all the pieces and vendors at the flea market. Plus, the influx of boho dresses and graphic tees might derail you; stick to the classics. You’ll never go wrong with a leather jacket, Levi’s, or cotton dress.
5. Tailoring is always an option. If an item is too long or just a little too big, you can always get the perfect fit with a quick trip to the tailor. I have sometimes spent more money tailoring items than the actual item. As long at it’s a quality piece with potential, I’m buying it and making it perfect for me.