Saturday, July 27, 2013

Vintage Clothing FAQ: You Have Questions, I Have Answers

As someone who collects and sells vintage clothing, I am often asked a slew of questions regarding this topic by family, friends, and buyers. For most people, shopping is an activity that they dislike, so the idea of putting this much effort into OLD clothing can be shocking for some people. Today I am going to answer some of the questions that I am asked on a regular basis.

1. Why do you like vintage clothing so much?

Why does anyone like anything so much? For me, its a passion. I love learning about fashion and I also enjoy history so it makes sense to me that I like vintage clothing. I would often accompany my mom on her Saturday trips to the market when I was younger, making a side stop at the Salvation Army. While most people in there were buying newer, gently used clothing, I was digging for the OLD stuff. I wanted to look different and have something that no one else did. I guess that is where it all started for me.

See, I have always had a flair for dressing a little funky.
From my Instagram (@otherpeoplestrash)

2. Isn't vintage clothing dirty and smelly?

Not really. I try my best to launder every object that I purchase. Sometimes the clothes have a faint musty smell but it is not anything that is going to make you sick from smelling it. Nothing a trip to the dry cleaners couldn't fix. For accessories, I like to wipe them down depending on the fabric. For shoes, I spray some Lysol on a towel and clean out the inside.

3. Can I go by the size on the tag inside a piece of vintage clothing?

My best advice on this one - try it on. Sizing has changed throughout the years so the tag is not the best thing to judge your purchase on. Take it to the dressing room and try it on. If you don't want to try something on for sanitary reasons, buy the item and have it altered to fit you. If you are really looking to be accurate, take a measuring ribbon with you to get the flat measurements of the item but keep in mind that they are FLAT measurements. This is especially important if you have curves.

4. Should I buy vintage fur or exotic skins?

Only after careful inspection. Be sure to check the pelt of a fur for signs of ripping or dry rot. This happens quite often, especially if a fur is not properly stored away each season. Also check for signs of shedding, as this can create a mess on its own. As for exotic skins, check for scratches and nicks. If you are really into a specific item made from an exotic skin, check with your local leathersmith to see if they can help condition the item or alter it to your liking (i.e. belts).

5. I don't like a small part of an item, can I change it?

I don't really like shoulder pads, so I often cut them out. Sometimes buttons are missing, so I will remove all the buttons and start with something new. If there is a small part of an item that you don't like, fix it! This is where you really have to get creative with vintage clothing and see it for not only what it is, but what it could be.

6. How do I know if an item is really vintage?

The first thing I look at is the tag. So much can be learned from this little piece of information. I could go on and on about what to look for but the Vintage Fashion Guild has already done a pretty good job at creating a database of vintage clothing tags to get you started. Another sign that points to vintage is the fabric quality. Today's clothing can be so cheap and chintzy that when running your hand along a rack of clothing, one can automatically be drawn to a vintage piece just from the feel of the fabric.

An example of an tag from a vintage Gucci skirt for sale in my shop.

7. Can I look trendy while wearing vintage clothing?

Absolutely! Want to look like a woman from Mad Men or a flapper from the Great Gatsby? No problem! A lot of popular TV series and movies are based in a time other than the present, making vintage clothing the perfect choice for your trendy look. Why buy modern day replicas when you can have a quality piece from the past?

8. How do I care for my vintage clothing?

A lot of pieces are dry clean only and this may scare someone on a budget. I was spending a fortune on dry cleaning but did some research and was able to find someone much more affordable. My cleaner charges $1.99 per item and does a really great job. If the item is extra special I make sure to note that before leaving, and they are very good about listening to my instructions. A lot of cleaners also offer special days where services are 20-30% off. For any items that say hand wash, it is always a safe bet to have them dry cleaned just in case. For anything that says spot clean only, try your best not to spill.

9. I am too impatient to look for vintage clothing, how can I find vintage clothing without hunting for hours?

Buy your clothing from a dealer like me who has already done the work for you! Check out my Etsy shop, Other People's Trash for vintage clothing from the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s! I offer clothing for all sizes!

10. Aren't you afraid that you will bring home a ghost with your clothing?

I have been asked this question believe it or not. My answer is this simple: I have been in my apartment for 2.5 years and can tell you that it is not haunted. Believe me, I think I would know. But if I am going to inherit a ghost, I would love a fashionable one.

Have other questions about vintage clothing? Please leave them in the comment area below! You never know, you might be featured in a post on my blog!


  1. awesome post! nice suggestions and tips for thrift/vintage shoppers



  2. Great post! The picture is so cute! xx


  3. I truly love vintage clothing but my real passion is for vintage hats! They are amazing! Great tips!


  4. I'm also a huge vintage & thrift lover thanks for sharing this, I really appreciate it!

  5. wonderful article, lovely vintage clothing really awesome hats thanks for sharing

    vintage clothing

  6. Thank you for posting the great content ... I was looking for something like this ...
    I found it quiet interesting, hopefully you will keep posting such blogs .... Keep sharing.

    vintage clothing

  7. Im desperate. I have a beautiful beaded vintage dress with the label Martini Designed. Do you know about this label?