Buying vintage can be a tricky business. There’s the ‘oh this dress is beautiful…curses, it’s not my size’ conundrum, the ‘I’ll just take a couple of days to mull this purchase over…rats, someone else has bought it’ frustration, and of course, the ‘why is payday so flipping far away’ desperation.
And that’s before you’ve even bought anything. We’ll leave the ‘oh, I should not have sat down wearing this, that’s a tearing noise’ panic and the ‘how the heck do I wash this?’ confusion for another time (because I currently have no solutions to either of these).
But, I do love a piece of vintage. You’re getting a piece of history – think of the stories your clothes could tell! The trips to the beach, the evenings on the town, the lazy Sunday afternoons that follow the evenings on the town…I could go on and on.
Buying plus size vintage can be even trickier; the sizes are harder to come by, and there are lots of people looking for the same things. I’m still learning as I’ve only been wearing true vintage clothes for a year or thereabouts, but I’ve got a few tried and tested do’s and don’ts…
Ask your friends
Let them know what you’re looking for, as the more people keeping an eye out, the better! Two of my favourite dresses were down to my friends (who are seasoned vintage purchasers). I found my green silk at last year’s Classic Car Boot Sale in London and was going to walk away, until my friend Catherine of Vintage Frills assured me I was bonkers.
My brown check, which I wore in the Miss Vintage UK 2016 final was found by another lovely chum, Holly, in a Kent charity shop. It’s actually part of a suit and I love it a lot.
I’ve found a few dresses on eBay – try search terms such as ‘true vintage’ ‘original vintage’ before what you’re looking for (eg ‘true vintage 50s dress’). You’ll still have to dig through the results to find things in your size, but it should filter out most of the reproduction items.
Explore international selling platforms
I’m really thinking of etsy when I say this, but there are others available. I’ve found a lot of my vintage through US sellers, and etsy makes it nice and easy to find sellers from across the world in one place. Just type in what you want, filter results by ‘vintage’ and away you go.
Just be prepared for customs fees as well as shipping fees if you’re buying from the US, they can be steep.
Look for traders that are known for stocking larger sizes
Timebomb Vintage, who I met at last year’s Twinwood Festival, has a wonderful selection of dresses in a range of sizes, and their bag collection is spectacular (post on my latest acquisition coming soon).
Scarlet Rage Vintage has a great selection of sizes, as do Gingermegs Vintage, Curious Orange Vintage, Black Sheep Antiques , Sartorial Matters and Maggie Mae’s Vintage (and if you know what you’re looking for, it’s worth asking if they can keep an eye out for it on their travels).
Ask your friends
So important I’ve mentioned it twice! Your friends may know of an awesome trader you should check out (my friend Tanya of Secret Plus Size Goddess introduced me to Timebomb Vintage, for example), they may have a dress in your size that looks great on you (thanks again, Catherine!), or they may be up for lengthy jaunts around the shops with fish&chips pit stops.
Keep checking back
The thing with vintage is that things change. Something you’ve had your eye on that someone else buys might make its way back to you – such is the way of the universe.
The strawberry cardigan I’m wearing with the blue dress above is one I’ve coveted for months and months and months, ever since I saw the lovely Holly wearing one. I didn’t think one would ever turn up in my size, but it did a month or so ago on a Facebook selling page, so I snapped it up!
Which leads me to my last do…
Check out Facebook selling pages
There are so many places to buy, swap and sell true vintage on Facebook now – I have a few I frequent, and ask around to see which ones your friends rate. Be patient while waiting for your request to be accepted; the good ones can be pretty busy with new members wanting to get in!
Forget charity shops
I’ve found some lovely items in local charity shops, including this rather lovely summer dress – I wore it on our honeymoon in Rome and a nice lady I met at the Colosseum liked it so much she asked to have her photo taken with me!
On the other end of the season spectrum, I was recently helping out at my local hospice and found this fabulous, late 60s coat while sorting through clothes for their shop. Can’t wait for the weather to turn again so I can wear it!
Or car boot sales
While I haven’t found anything yet, enough of my friends have that I live in hope! Get there early and keep your eyes peeled, and you might just find a bargain.
A small note – when I say early, I don’t mean ‘before things are set up’ early. The Boy and I have just come back from a car boot sale where we were sellers, and people were swarming the car before we’d even properly gotten ourselves out, never mind our stuff.
They were going through the boot, rooting through the boxes and shouting things like, ‘Will you take 2p for this brand new Xbox?’ and ‘How about 5p for this bag of 100 DVDs?’ while we were trying to set up pasting tables and tripping over them in the process.
It’s rude, and it drove me crackers. Please don’t be like those people!
Get hung up on specific eras
Later clothes such as 80s-does-50s are sometimes easier to find than originals, and can look authentic or give a nod to the earlier era depending on which look you’re going for – it’s all in the accessories.
This Beyond Retro dress is from the 1980s, but I think it’s got a lovely 50s vibe to it. Also, any excuse to show off my duck bag.
So, those are a few tips and tricks from me – are there any tried and tested methods you have for finding vintage clothes?