As a big fan of fashion, I often find myself strolling around vintage shops and thrift stores searching for things that capture a timeless, classic style. Vintage stores are filled with beautiful things that tell stories from a different time. Lapel pins, pocket squares, suits, every item you can imagine. I’ve even seen (and currently own) women’s handkerchiefs that I use as pocket squares. The detailing is unbelievable! Craftsmanship is truly a dying art. Each piece in a vintage store carries its own personal history, the marks of its past owners, and each has a charm that mass-produced commodities can only gain after years of use.
The next time you stroll through a vintage shop, keep a few of my “rules” in mind.
1. Make sure you take your time and look around.
I often catch things on the second or third time that I didn’t notice initially. Make sure you really wander and take everything in. I find that if I don’t try to confront the objects intellectually, I’m more struck by the special ones visually. Sometimes it takes up to an hour for me to really see everything, and even then, my wife will find something I missed.
On the days that I visit vintage shops, I make sure that I have plenty of time on my hands so I can search the entire store. By taking your time, you can start to cobble the pieces in the store together mentally.
2. Before you go, make a basic mental inventory of what you already have.
Take a look at your wardrobe, and the accessories on your bureau, so you don’t accidentally buy something you don’t need. Personally, I look for things that could add extra details to something I currently own.
3. Keep your mind open to different ideas.
One of the best lessons I’ve learned from shopping in vintage shops and thrift stores is to keep my mind open to new ideas. A perfect example is pairing suit separates. Sometimes a great blazer can be worn with many different slacks. Tweed blazers and corduroy blazers are great thrift finds I’ve found that pair well with slacks or jeans. Having an open mind allows for endless possibilities.
You might surprise yourself.
4. Talk with the vintage shop staff.
I visit the vintage shop often, and when I do, I love to talk to the shop owner about new items and what’s selling. Developing this relationship has allowed me the privilege of owning many things that were not put out for sale. The shop owner knows that I’m a big fan of pocket squares, and he calls me when new items have arrived!
When purchasing a blazer that is slightly too big, make a trip to a tailor to have it fitted properly. Make sure you try on the clothing as some items may be bespoke items and will not have a size indicated.
One general rule to note: the most important piece of a jacket’s fit is the shoulders. If they are too narrow, or too wide it’s the most expensive alteration. Sleeve length is generally the cheapest (Excluding functional button holes if need shortened. If so move on to the next find…).
And most importantly, have fun!