I remember the first vintage dress I ever owned. I was in high school, eBay was a relatively new phenomenon, and I loved trading hours of sleep for hours of looking through endless auctions listed as “boho,” vintage dress,” or “Sienna Miller dress-” because, of course, those were also the days of me reading celebrity gossip magazines. Well, in the heat of the moment, heart racing as the auction neared its end, I overpaid for an ill-fitting, barely-vintage-dress that ended up falling apart after only a few times out on the town. Since that fateful auction, though, I’ve become quite the vintage clothing connoisseur and a master at shopping for vintage clothing in stores and online. To save you the same heartaches I experienced when I fell for the wrong dress, I thought I’d share 10 vintage shopping mistakes to avoid so you don’t have to learn the hard way.
Look out for worn out materials.
In a poorly lit vintage shop crammed full of clothing, it can be difficult to examine the item you're interested in. Take your time and don't let yourself feel rushed! Examine the fabric of the entire garment and pay special attention to the seams.
Sometimes vintage dresses have been let out a little in the waist or bust area and if they fit you rather snuggly there where there's little seam allowance, you should be concerned about the seams ripping apart while you wear it. Waistbands with old elastic are notorious for losing their stretchiness, and unless you're handy with the sewing machine and know you'll get around to replacing elastic, it might not be worth purchasing something with elastic that's wearing out. Leather's another material to watch out for. Dried out, flaky leather, whether it be on shoes, purses, or apparel, will probably crack and the item will be ruined. Sometimes if leather's not too far gone, you can save it with some leather lotion, but be sure to factor that into the cost of the item and how much you're willing to spend.
When you're shopping online, and you're interested in an older item with elastic or leather, don't be afraid to ask the shop owner for extra detail about the elastic's quality or the leather's flakiness. Most sellers respond quickly and especially because you'll leave feedback after purchasing, they'll answer honestly.
If you are desperately in love with something even though it looks like it might need some work, use the item's faults as bargaining power with the store owner. If you get a good deal, it might be worth some time with the sewing machine or some money to a good seamstress.
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