Vintage Finds of the Week
This week's haul was pretty successful - lots of vintage 90's denim shorts, a few dresses... have a look at my finds. They'll be in the shop soon. We're going to get a spring snow storm tomorrow so I hope to get a lot of work done and get these listed.
That's it for this week. More to come soon.
Seen at the Thrift Store...
I see so many weird and cool vintage things when out hunting for shop inventory. I can't bring it all home (my husband would probably leave me) so the next best thing is to document and share them here. Behold - my first series of "seen at the thrift store - but left behind".
Vintage Finds of the Week
I did just a little hunting the past week and found a few cool things. I'm looking forward to the thrift stores putting out their spring and summer gear. So far they're starting to bring out shorts but still waiting on swimsuits and sandals. I received a coupon through my email for $10 off a $30 purchase at my favorite thrift store chain (a coupon is the BEST excuse to go thrifting, even though honestly, I would have gone anyway!), so off I went on Friday afternoon to see what I could find...
Cute 70's or 80's floral polyester top with smocked bottom. A little tacky but also could be really cute with the right bottoms. I have a thing for polyester. This one will be up in the shop.
Adorable 90's sunflower print set - a crop top and a skort! Looks to be handmade. Super cute!! Will be for sale.
Basic 90's denim shortalls. These were pretty in last summer, so hopefully there's still a demand for them this summer. These will be for sale.
90's high waist denim shorts - the black ones are Lee. Classic summer staples. It's hard to find denim shorts these days that aren't so crazy short or super low rise! These are also 100% denim so they are thick and sturdy. Both will be for sale.
Citrus handbag! I have such a weakness for any kind of fruit print or accessory. Looks like woven straw. This will be for sale.
Metallic gold LA Gear lace up sneakers! I've seen these before but never grabbed them. Decided to this time and glad I did, as metallics are pretty in right now. I remember dying for a pair of LA Gear sneakers in 3rd grade.
Red woven faux leather mini wedges. What a cheerful color! These will be for sale.
Upcycled brooch - looks like someone took out an old cameo and replaced it with a decoupaged vintage kitten! I want to make it into a necklace. Keeping this one, as I am a cat lady 100%.
And for me - 3 band shirts. I'm always looking through the men's shirts to find the perfect vintage tee. I often come across band shirts of groups I like. Seems like I came across part of someone's collection: MxPx, Passion Pit, and Brand New. Score for me!
That's it for last week. I hope to have some more time to go hunting this week.
Etsy Finds of the Week
Starting a new blog feature - Etsy Finds of the Week. Giving shout outs to other vintage & handmade shops for items that have caught my eye recently.
Bali cut shirt - MilkTeeths
70's denim shorts - DiscoLeafVintage
Woven leather purse - LumeAdoreVintage
70's patchwork skirt - ShopExile
Short sleeve cardigan - MissDorothyVintage
70's wedge sandals - SuperQueenieRetro
Daisy brooches - AliciasOddities
Vintage 80's striped bathing suit - 216VintageModern
Time to reveal one of my secret guilty pleasures... collecting "vintage" 80's and 90's YA (young adult) fiction paperbacks! I was born in 1982 and have always been a huge book worm. My favorite time of the school year was always when the Scholastic Book Fair came to school. Also - those book order sheets the teachers would do monthly made me SO giddy!
I started reading YA series around 1990, just in time for the glory of Sweet Valley Twins (and High, and Kids), Babysitter's Club, Sleepover Friends, Girl Talk, and the scandalous Sunset Island (which my ELEMENTARY SCHOOL had!!?). I'm thankful to my parents for nurturing my reading habits and always buying me books. My older sister and I collected most of the above series between us in the 1990's. Unfortunately, we got rid of them. All of them. Sad times.
Fast forward to last year. In all my thrift store trips, I usually skipped the book section (minus looking for vintage Golden Guides, another favorite I'll save for another post!). I began browsing through the children's section and decided to start collecting some of my beloved series again. I keep a list on my phone of the titles I already own so I don't accidentally pick up a duplicate. It's not really worth much to resell them, unless you have a HUGE lot of a particular series. This is why I don't want to end up with duplicates.
Some trips I score several titles - other trips I come up with nothing. One series I avoid is Babysitter's Club and BSC Little Sister. I read them in the 90's but was never a big fan (not dramatic enough for me!). Sometimes it's tempting to start collecting them too, since they are so readily available at thrift stores. Maybe eventually, when I get a bigger bookshelf to house this expanding collection.
In addition to series, I also have a fondness for pretty much any YA fiction, especially titles from the late 70's and 80's with horrible fashions on the cover. Think Wildfire titles, etc. Love them.
Series I currently am on the hunt for:
Sweet Valley High
Sweet Valley Twins
Sweet Valley Kids
Sweet Valley Senior Year
Sweet Valley University
Sweet Valley Junior High
Camp Sunnyside Friends
The Fabulous 5
Peanut Butter and Jelly
Series I've completed:
Sunset Island (very very hard to find in thrift stores, so I went the Amazon route to complete my collection).
Feel free to leave a comment about any of your favorite series from back in the day! I'm always on the lookout for suggestions.
It's finally starting to feel a little like spring time here in Colorado. The weather has been in the 60's and I'm starting to see little bits of green grass coming up. Squirrels have reappeared from their long winter naps and you can hear birds singing again. Of course March and April are also our snowiest months, so I'm expecting a blizzard any day now! The warmer weather and longer days are inspiring me to get busy adding more spring + summer goodies to the shop. Here's what was added recently:
Vintage Finds of the Week
I thought I would share some of my finds from the past week before they get lost in the "needs to be photographed" pile ;) Most of these items will be available in the store soon. All of these were from an estate sale of a woman named Elinor here in Denver. Her home was like a time machine back to the 1960's. Tons of clothes and even more shoes, records, jewelry, postcards, scrapbooks... a huge basement full of stuff. These are my absolute favorite types of estate sales. It amazes and overjoys me that people keep such things for decades. I probably would have brought more home, but I was testing the husband's patience... Feel free to drop me a line if you're interested in something before it hits the Etsy store.
Taking good care of your vintage clothes is much easier than you'd expect.
This is a quick how-to guide for keeping your finds in good shape.
The most important thing to know is if the item can be washed in a machine or not. Typically anything made of wool or rayon is a no-no. Those should be dry cleaned only. Wool will lose its shape and often develop holes, and rayon will shrink and wrinkle beyond repair. Just don't do it! I've ruined a perfectly good rayon dress by washing it in a machine and have seen gorgeous vintage wool cardigans resemble Swiss cheese after a washing machine session.
Polyester and cotton are generally safe to machine wash. That said, always use the delicate cycle with cool or cold water. Use gentle detergent. Using the dryer is usually fine, but again - think gentle. Low heat! You can also air dry and then hit it with an iron later to tackle any wrinkles.
Don't wash in a machine: fancy dresses, anything with delicate embellishments, anything super old (older than the 1960's is my personal cut off!), coats of any kind, wool blend sweaters.
Usually fine in a machine: 60's and 70's polyester stuff washes and dries awesome. Newer cotton items (70's and later) are fine too.
Solutions for items that can't go in the machine: Soaking. Yep, soaking in a (clean!) bathtub with tepid water and Woolite. This will at least clean up the garment. It probably won't lift stains or anything like that. Gently squeeze out excess water after rinsing and dry flat. Extra bonus for drying it outside on a warm spring or summer day. Again, do not put rayon or wool or anything super old or elaborate in the bathtub. Save those for a professional dry cleaner.
One final word: do you have leather, suede, or fur that needs to be cleaned? Take those to a professional "furrier". Skip dry cleaning on those.
How to Thrift for Vintage
Today I'm going to revealing some of my thrifting secrets - how to find vintage in thrift stores!
I've always loved vintage clothing and never thought I could find it in thrift stores. I would just buy the occasional piece at Buffalo Exchange or on eBay. I use to think thrift stores were icky and would never set foot in one. I'm so glad I got over that because they are the BEST places to find amazing clothing, shoes, accessories, house wares... pretty much anything you want or didn't even know existed, can be found at a thrift store.
Here are some of my tips for finding cool vintage clothes and accessories.
Where to thrift?
This is a hard one to say. It really depends on where you live and what's available to you. Generally I've had the best luck in smaller thrift stores in small towns. They often don't mark up their prices and their merchandise isn't picked over. My favorite thing to do is thrift when my husband and I are on road trips.
Chain thrift stores are good too! Their prices will be higher though and they often have an idea if something is worth more (and then price it accordingly). I've always had good luck with Salvation Army stores. Goodwills are hit or miss - they usually don't have as much super old stuff and they do sell online (shopgoodwill.com) so they are aware of valuable pieces and those often get pulled and sold online for more. Savers is another chain that is massive but in my opinion, very, VERY overpriced. I prefer small independent places like church run thrift stores, charity shops benefitting animal issues, people with disabilities, etc etc.
Try searching on Google Maps rather than using Yelp. You'll find more!
Check your local paper and Craigslist for rummage sales and community garage sales, especially at senior centers and churches. Garage sales are so so for me - they rarely have vintage clothing.
There are also estate sales but that's another whole topic I'll get into in a future blog post.
Before you begin thrifting, I suggest prepping a little thrift survival kit that has a few things like:
1. a drink
2. a snack, like a granola bar or something with protein to keep you going!
3. hand wipes, because your hands are going to get dirty
4. a fully charged phone with GPS
5. comfortable shoes, because you're going to be standing for awhile
1. Start with dresses.
This is the area that I make a beeline to when I first enter a thrift store. Why? Because vintage dresses are usually the easiest to find and also the most sought-after vintage pieces for my Etsy shop and me personally. Dresses were more commonly worn in the past so it makes sense there are more vintage dresses available than say, tops and pants.
Thrift stores will often sort their clothing into sizes but I ignore that. Often vintage sizes are not the same as modern sizes so a vintage 14 is actually a modern 8. I check the entire dress rack, from XS to plus size. Since I try to carry a wide variety of sizes for my customers, I always go through everything.
Use caution though in this area because lately there has been an increase in "retro" and "vintage style" dresses, especially from places like Target, H&M, and Forever 21. The dress may have a vintage-like print or cut, but it's not actually vintage. Always check the tags inside to be sure.
2. Scan the tops of the racks for interesting fabric, prints, and cuts.
Since I spend a lot of time searching, this is usually my favorite way to quickly scan for interesting pieces without having to go through every. single. piece. You'll want to look for retro prints and patterns, special looking collars, and cuts like cap sleeves. You can actually tell a lot about a garment just by looking at the top part of it! I am guilty of skipping the solid black items usually because they don't stand out, but there may be something cool hiding in there, you never know.
3. Check the labels.
This is the fun part. You pull out a cool looking dress and then you check the label inside. You can usually tell if it's vintage right away. Here's what I look for:
* made in USA (starting around the mid 1980s, clothing began to be made outside of USA much more commonly)
* an International Ladies Garment Workers Union union label (ILGWU for short)
* a vintage-y logo
Often vintage clothing won't have a label at all. This is because it's either handmade (which was quite popular to do back then! My mom made most of her awesome clothes in the 60s and 70s) or the previous owner cut out the tag. If there are no tags, you'll want to analyze the fabric, cut, and zippers/buttons for clues if the piece is really vintage.
4. Check the zippers and buttons.
Metal zippers were commonly used in dresses prior to the mid 60s. After that, the nylon zipper became popular. If you find something with a metal zipper (minus jeans of course), it's probably vintage! Dresses prior to the mid 60s often had side zippers. Later on, zippers in the back were more common. Funky buttons are another thing to look for.
5. Look for damage.
Before you decide to buy something, look it over for damage. Check that the zipper works well, there aren't any weird odors, check the underarms for stains (extremely hard if not impossible to remove), look for any holes not on seams, and of course for any stains. Stains in polyester are generally pretty easy to remove. Cotton, not as much.
Don't switch or remove tags. It's bad thrift karma and the store may not sell the items to you without tags! Switching tags can be considered shoplifting so just don't do it.
A few more pointers of what I look for...
Dresses - of course anything 60s and earlier is a great find. 80s secretary dresses, if not too funky, are good too. 90s floral maxi dresses are really easy to find and popular right now.
Jeans - high waisted and wide leg are my favorites but really hard to find. Vintage Levis (with the big E on the tag) are extremely rare so if you ever find that, GET IT! Vintage Wranglers are cool these days and even "mom" style jeans. If you find a cool pair but don't like the cut of the legs, you can always cut them into shorts and fray or fold the ends.
Shorts - anything high waisted and in a funky print is good!
Tops - short sleeve and sleeveless tend to do better in my Etsy shop than long sleeves. Peter Pan collars, funky prints, lace, ascot bow ties - it's all stuff I look for. I try to not buy as much pastel plaid button ups because people don't seem to love them as much as me :( Sleeveless turtlenecks from the 60s are good finds too.
Shoes - vintage boots, sandals, wedges, heels... it's all good. I do avoid the 80s bridesmaid dyed heels and lots of 80s heels because they don't sell very well for me. Anything 70s is excellent (think Cherokee, Bass, YoYos, Connie, Famolare sandals & wedges). Woven huarache sandals are good too (just make sure they aren't modern). Justin Roper boots are great sellers if you can find them. Of course vintage Doc Martens (if made in UK, not China) do well too.
Men's - vintage t-shirts are super fun to go through. I also take a look at the cardigans and sweaters too. I don't sell much men's vintage so this isn't really an area I spend a lot of time looking through.
Purses - anything authentic like Dooney & Bourke (don't get replicas - you can't legally sell them online!), tapestry, funky leather, even fanny packs!
Belts - right now I'm obsessed with those Indian seed bead belts and Guatemalan woven belts.
Last thoughts... always check everything before you buy it. Remove the hangers before getting to the register.. it's good karma. Be extra nice to the thrift store cashiers. It will help you if something doesn't have a price and they price it right then and there. Look for coupons and sales online. I never haggle at thrift stores but you could try if it's a small one... you never know. Major chains won't haggle with you, their prices are firm.
Any other tips you want to share? Leave a comment!
Vintage loving lady originally from southern California, now living in colorful Colorado with my husband, kitty, and pup.