Starting to build a collection of vintage/pin-up style clothes can seem daunting. And expensive.
Although maybe not as expensive as real vintage, vintage reproduction still tends to be more costly than your average high street store clothing. This is due to more limited quantities usually being made, better ethical standards (such as in-country production), better material and quality and the fact that it’s basically a niche market.
Some of us find we drift in to this style and look over time, collecting more and more pieces that scream vintage in style, as time goes on. Others approach it with an ‘all or nothing’ attitude and decide they want to delve headfirst in to the look, which can work out initially more expensive.
Either way, building a wardrobe of clothing around this style can seem a little scary if you’re not sure where to start or even how to afford it.
So I’ve put together some tips on doing so, which I’ve learnt firsthand, since becoming a vintage reproduction clothing lover!
Don’t Write Off High Street Stores Altogether
It’s true that since you’re looking at wearing a more niche style of clothing, that you won’t find it heavily catered for in high street stores. These shops tend to follow current, global fashion trends as opposed to retro, vintage or past styles. I find that some shops such as New Look, Primark and H&M here in the UK sometimes have the odd top or pair of shoes that fit in with the vintage/pin-up style, but not often. I have high-waisted jeans from New Look for example, which worked out half the price of buying them from a vintage reproduction company, but swing and pencil dresses that are 1950’s in style are extremely hard to find.
I have a few bardot tops from New Look and Boohoo, as well as midi skirts, that have been absolute bargains to find and have helped to build my vintage style wardrobe, though.
Finding skirts for just £4 in the Boohoo end of year sale, when a similar thing from vintage reproduction brands would cost around £25, is an absolute bargain, and is one way to begin getting in some staple pieces and build that wardrobe quicker. Look for colours that go with each other, too. I like blues and floral patterns, as I find they tend to go with various other colours and styles, which makes them interchangeable. Black is also a good colour that goes with pretty much everything. But a good tartan patterned skirt from H&M or bardot crop tops from Primark could easily go with some pieces from actual vintage repro’ brands, to create the look for less. You just need to know what you’re looking for, so keep an eye out.
Otherwise known as thrift stores in the US, you can often find some bargain pieces for only a few pounds or less in charity shops. I’ve found shoes, bags and scarves as well as jackets, that all fit the vintage style.
Sign Up For Newsletters
This is a big one for me. As you begin to gaze longingly at those gorgeous dresses and cute boleros online, on sites such as Collectif, Pinup Girl, Lady V and Dolly and Dotty (to name just a few), get signing up to their newsletters and claim the discount codes they often send you upon signing up. You’ll also be first in line to hear about sales launching on-site, as well as often getting a heads up a good day or two before so you can begin planning what you want to snap up. You could even get things in your basket, ready to buy.
Check Blogs For Discount Codes
Some vintage bloggers are able to offer discount codes to their readers. If you read some vintage blogs already, you’ve probably noticed this at the end of a product review. It can be anything from 5% to 15% and always worth checking for. You could google ‘Lady V Discount Code’ for example or just check out the sites for each of the bloggers you follow.
Check Other Sites
Not only can you buy brands such as Collectif and Lady V direct from their website, but other boutique sites also stock them. Elsie’s Attic, Top Vintage and Little Wings Factory are just a few that I’ve bought from. They’re often actually more expensive than buying direct from the retailer initially, because they’ve been curated, but they often go on sale, sometimes working out cheaper than the brand’s own website. Also a great way to snap something up that is out of stock on the brand’s own site.
Social media ‘Contests’
A way to be savvy about using social media to your retail advantage is to enter the free competitions that brands tend to run on Social Media such as Facebook or Instagram. For many, all you have to do is like or share a photo, for others you may need to submit a photo of yourself in an item of clothing by that brand.
I’ve entered many, winning shopping vouchers a few times. A good example has been the Lady V Hall of Fame, where I’ve won ‘Queen November’ in 2015 and ‘Queen May’ in 2017, securing £100 worth of dresses from them each time. I was over the moon!
Other times, I’ve won £20 or £10 vouchers here and there, which all adds up. When it’s free to enter, why not give it a go? just make sure to make a note of when the competition ends so you can go back and check the winner announcement. People often miss that they’ve won, can you believe it?!
Learn When To Expect The Sales
Just like high street and other online retailers, vintage repro’ brands tend to discount items in online sales at Christmas, New Year, Easter, Bank Holidays, Black Friday (which is huge now) and even the end of the summer. When they have a new line of clothes to bring in i.e their winter designs and stock, they need to make way for it.
You can plan for these by saving up some money beforehand in anticipation as well as planning what items you’d like to get. I wouldn’t get too attached to anything in particular though, in case your ideal item isn’t included in the sale or is snapped up in your size really quickly, so if there’s anything you absolutely must have, my advice would be to not 100% bank on it being in the sale, but to buy it beforehand.
But if you’re up for a impulse buy or bargain, sales are such a good way to do it.
I’d say that around 75% of my wardrobe are sale purchases, with most occurring around Christmas and New Year. Things get really discounted then. As well as Black Friday.
It is also worth mentioning that many brands now have a permanent sales section online. Anything that hasn’t been snapped up in the Christmas sale may stay in this section until it’s really gone, so the company doesn’t miss out on a sale and so that buyers still have the opportunity to get it at a later date. Lady V is one example of this. They often have last season items still in the sale tab on their site for a fraction of the price. It may be last season but you’ll be all ready for that season to come round again if you buy it.
When a page pops up in your Facebook feed for vintage/pin-up style clothing and you like the look of it, save it. I have a very full folder of bookmarks for these very sites on my laptop, which is perfect for when I’m wanting something in particular and I can compare prices easily. Just the other month, a friend asked me where she could get a white 23 inch petticoat from, so I opened my folder and went through what must have been thirty different websites, before sending her a rundown of what I’d found. I was able to find multiple, slightly different petticoats, for various prices. If you’re looking for a dress for a wedding, a new pair of shoes or a swing dress, saving all of these sites in one place can help you save time and look through them more efficiently.
Learn About Brands
There are so many different vintage reproduction brands out there now. It’s as if a new one pops up every day. Learning the price range for various brands will help you understand how much tends to be the average rate for a dress or top and which brands are more luxury rather than being easily affordable. Certain brands you may be able to buy from more frequently, such as the more affordable ones, but others you may only buy special pieces from or wait for the sales. Get an idea in your head about how much you are willing to pay for a dress, cardigan, jeans etc. and find the brands that match your kind of price range to create your list of go-to, favourite brands.
Facebook Swap and Sell Groups
One of the things Facebook is best for is bringing people with a mutual interest together. And this works particularly well for those of us with the vintage look.
I’m in multiple Facebook groups that are dedicated to selling or even swapping vintage style clothing. All brands from Lady V to Collectif, Joanie, Dolly and Dotty, Lindy Bop and Pinup Girl. Most groups aren’t too fussy which brands, as long as they fit the style. These groups can be especially great for finding those discontinued items or, if you missed that top you wanted in the sale, getting another chance at securing it from someone else.
I’ve bought items brand new with tags on several times in these groups, but some have been worn. Prices tend to be very fair and I’ve got some real bargains before.
If you’re after a specific brand’s clothing, then you can search for a group on Facebook containing that brand in its name. As well as buying and selling, you can ask if anyone owns or has seen a particular item for sale, in these groups.
You should always pay via PayPal, using the ‘paying for goods and services’ option so that you are covered should the item not turn up or not be as described. The seller will have to pay a transaction fee for this, but they should already be aware and have factored this into the price of the item they’re selling. Make sure you clearly state what you’re buying in the notes, too.
Good old eBay! It’s still a popular item reselling platform and for good reason. I’ve found some gems on eBay, mostly cardigans and boleros, and many for under £5 including postage. you can search for certain brands or just ‘bolero’, ‘1950’s dress’, ‘retro’ etc.
Keep an eye on auctions and be prepared to bid, possibly in a bidding war, for something you’re really keen on. But be clear on what your maximum price is from the start. You don’t want to go over this just to win the auction, otherwise you could end up not getting it for such a bargain price.
You can also set up alerts for when items in certain categories or with certain words in the title are posted. ’50’s’, ‘Marilyn’, ‘Retro’, ‘Vintage’ might all be good words to use, as well as specific brand names.
Bloggers Reselling Old Items
It’s becoming increasingly common for vintage and pin-up bloggers to turn to social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram to sell clothing they no longer want. It could be never worn or barely worn and you can catch it for a good price, usually paying via PayPal. If there’s someone you follow on Instagram who has a selling account for their clothing, it is worth following them and setting up an alert so that you receive a notification if they put an item up.
So they’re all my money saving pin-up and vintage clothing tips. I hope they help!
Starting a new wardrobe of clothes can be expensive and daunting, but hopefully this blog helps you.
Would you add anything? Let me know below!
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