Friday, April 18, 2014

How to dress vintage for not that much money

In my last post I talked about how I don't like to pay a lot of money for clothes, and I mentioned that I put a lot of time into looking for good deals. I do want to share a few pointers that might be helpful for finding your own deals, and let you know about some of my favorite, reasonably priced stores.

1. You know how a lot of online stores have email lists you can subscribe to? Yeah, you should do that. Gmail now has a feature where it separates you emails into different types. When I'm in the mood to buy something, I'll scroll through my promotions folder and see if any of the stores that I like are offering special discounts. I regularly get coupon codes for 10, 15, or 20% off. Sometimes, when you subscribe, they'll ask for your birthday. It benefits them because they collect information about what demographic shops with them, and it benefits you because the ones that ask for it usually send you a birthday coupon.
2. Another way to learn about special offers and flash sales is to follow stores you like on social media. Some stores will use them for exclusive offers and discounts that they don't offer anywhere else.
3. Get familiar with sale cycles. Spring and summer clothing comes into stores around February, so that's when winter gear will be the cheapest; cold weather clothing comes in around September, so that's when you'll want to buy summer clothes.
3a. Of course, the corollary with that is to not buy anything too trendy. You may not be wearing it for a while, and you don't want people to literally look at you and think, "man, that's so last summer."
(If you only ever buy vintage clothing, the previous two tips maybe aren't as useful. However, I supplement my wardrobe pretty heavily with items from stores like Topshop, Zara, and Asos; they, and a lot of the other trend driven stores, frequently have items that have a vintage or retro feel to them, and it's well worth it to check them out. I particularly recommend checking out Their sale section is larger than their selection of full priced merchandise, they offer a lot of different styles at a lot of different price points, and they have free shipping with no minimum purchase.)
4. If there's a vintage store in your area, try to get in there regularly. My store in Chicago is Vintage Underground, and as I've mentioned before, I'm there often enough that they'll give me a little bit of a deal on things. Second-hand and vintage stores often have some leeway to negotiate, especially if you're a familiar face that they know they're going to see again. I might only spend $20 when I'm in there, but I'm a loyal enough shopper that it adds up.

I spend way too much time on Etsy, but my lost afternoons are your gain. In no particular order, here are some of my favorite shops.
1. Voyeur Vintage
Voyeur Vintage is a smaller store, but they have a great selection of apparel and accessories from the 50s and 60s. Clear photos and accurate measurements (a must if you're shopping for vintage online) make shopping her store easy.

Turquoise Plaid Skirt - $38
2. Bloomers and Frocks
Bloomers and Frocks has a wide range of clothing, accessories, and shoes, and she sorts her store by size, a feature that I always appreciate.

Red Chiffon Shirtdress - $58
3. My Vintage Hat Shop
My Vintage Hat Shop is, well, my vintage hat shop. They have a large selection of unique vintage hats sorted by era, and if you like them on Facebook, she regularly offers discounts.

Off White Straw Hat with Veil - $37
4. Vacation Vintage
Vacation Vintage is another smaller store, but I love their selection of dresses. They feature everything from the 40s through the 80s, but there's a curated feel to their collection that I like. Definitely follow them on social media for discounts.

50s Dusty Rose Party Dress - $82
5. Very Vintage Store
Very Vintage Store is a lovely store with highly curated merchandise. She seems to offer flash sales on a somewhat regular basis. The merchandise that I've ordered from the store has arrived promptly and in great shape.

Mediterranean Blue Maxi Dress - $61


  1. What a wonderful selection of etsy shops! I'm honored to be among them :) A good deal can be hard to find but a loyal customer can be even harder. I love when I'm able to get to know my customers and often seek out items just for them. Thanks Jessica!

    1. Thank you so much, Tania! I love your store, and I'm really happy that I got a chance to share it with everyone. I have to be honest, I almost didn't want to post that turquoise skirt, since I've had my eye on it for a while now.
      I'm curious, are you the model in the photos as well?

    2. Yep, that's me! If you had told me five years ago that I'd be "modeling" vintage on the interwebs in my thirties I would've laughed myself into any early grave. But here I am very much alive and making a go at doing what I love ;) and am so absolutely thankful to be able to share this adventure with so many others.

  2. Fantastic post! I'm huge on being thrifty and working within the confines of a budget (which were large motivating factors in the creation of this year's new Vintage Deals post series, as well as another post - I wrote one a while back - on this subject that will be going up on my blog a little later in the year). I think that there's a bit of a belief, dare I say "misconception", that one has to spend audacious sums of money to wear vintage and/or look thoroughly old school. Such is not the case at all! I've been on carefully watched budget my vintage wearing life, especially since becoming chronically ill nearly 12 years ago now (high three or even four figure medical bills every single month eat into one's income mighty quickly) and have always managed to add new pieces to my wardrobe each year. Patience (when it comes to finding something for a great price), mixing 1980s does 40s/50s pieces into your wardrobe (ditto for vintage appropriate/inspired modern ones), building your wardrobe around very versatile basics that can easily go with one another and plenty of new pieces you pick up over time, and not feeling like you have to keep up with the vintage Joneses on the shopping front are some of my own top tips on this front.

    ♥ Jessica

    1. You are such a dear. You always post the most thoughtful replies, and I really appreciate it.
      I saw that your thrifty vintage recommendations post went up just before mine and thought about pulling it, but I figured it didn't really matter.
      I do love the tip about mixing in 80s does 40s. I'm so terrible about that, since I see the label 80s and just automatically click off, but I need to be less prejudiced about it. There's definitely some cute stuff from that era, it's just a matter of finding it. I'm also guilty of blogger envy - some of the women whose blogs I read are just so well decked out, it's hard not to want to spend way too much on some of the cute stuff that they have!
      On a side note, I read you blog post about your illness, and you are such a trooper. You always seem to have such a positive outlook, and that's so hard to maintain through a chronic illness. That's really admirable.