Fashion

How to Shop Vintage Clothing Online

Because shopping vintage doesn't mean scouring through dusty racks of clothes anymore.
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Fashion has shifted the conversation to sustainability and, by extension, vintage clothing. From great quality Levi's denim from the '60s to amazing archival fashion from the '90s, it's an interesting world that's been largely unexplored by many.

Before you go and attempt to fill your wardrobe with some vintage gems, however, there's a lot you need to know. For starters, shopping vintage doesn't mean scouring through dusty racks of clothes anymore. In fact, it's everywhere online now.

Finding vintage clothing online is another animal in itself. It's really not that hard to get into it, however. So, here's a quick guide to shopping vintage clothing online.

More: Inside The Vintage Menswear Boom

Learn the ways of your chosen shop.

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Apart from dedicated retailers, there are vintage sellers on Instagram, Etsy, Grailed, Vestiaire Collective, and eBay that have cool selections. But not all vintage clothing stores are created equal. Grailed might have a great menswear selection, but Vestiaire Collective authenticates pieces for you (for a fee). eBay is an entirely different conversation, but as long as you study the ways of your chosen shop, then you're good.

By study, we mean browse all over your chosen shop, read reviews, and ask questions—you'll get the hang of it pretty quickly. It also helps to go over forums and other platforms where vintage enthusiasts hold discussions.

Start with essential pieces.

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...as opposed to archival designer clothing. With going to brick-and-mortar shops, you mostly check out current season items that are available to add to your wardrobe (it's really this kind of fast fashion that steered the conversation toward sustainability). But with shopping vintage, the world is your oyster. So, you should be looking to fill gaps in your wardrobe. Think a supple leather jacket or great quality vintage denim.

Do research for more expensive pieces.

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When you're ready to pull the trigger on that seasons-old Helmut Lang or a well-loved Barbour, our advice is to do heavy research before even looking for archival pieces. We're talking about looking at label's styles, studying years of designer's work, and even examining key details and patterns. Research also includes talking to a seller and requesting for more photos if need be. It sounds intensive, but fake vintage is out there.

More: How to Score High-End Vintage Finds, According to a Baguio Thrift Shop

Don't hesitate.

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Time is of the essence when talking about listings. Sleeping on an item doesn't quite work when shopping vintage, especially online. Wait and you just might lose on that one-of-a-kind, marked-down, vintage band tee in amazing condition.

Of course, this mostly happens if you steer off essential pieces and see an exceptional piece. Just remember: If you're on the fence about an item, think about whether you really need it or just want it. Our goal here is still to be as sustainable as possible.

Things will fit differently.

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It doesn't matter if you're looking at pieces from the early 1900s or something from the 2000s, sizing is always iffy with vintage clothing. Here, it helps to do your research and learn from seasoned vintage collectors. The more you shop, the more you'll learn, too. Just be flexible with sizes, and remember that all is not lost with an ill-fitting garment. After all, you can almost always take it to the tailor if need be. Be warned, however, that not every piece can be tailored.

More: The Best Clothing and Accessories to Buy Vintage (And What to Look Out For)

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Paolo Chua
Associate Style Editor
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