Fashion Friday: Finding vintage clothes on a budget

Analicia Haynes

It’s easy to say that you love vintage fashion. It’s even easier to say that you will set aside your initial hesitations and finally decide that you will dress like a 1940s pin-up doll.

What’s not easy, is finding the perfect vintage outfit on a budget and one that doesn’t look like something your grandmother left in the attic and forgot about on purpose.

There are numerous online sites that sell vintage-inspired clothes such as ModCloth or Unique Vintage, and the clothing on those sites is impeccable. Those sites excel at offering clothes that are spot on to the decade that inspired its creation, but what they miss the mark on is cost.

I have certainly done my fair share of “window shopping” online, filling my cart with clothes that I could see myself wearing, but after picking out a dress with a pair of heels or a blouse and pant combination, I would be spending close to $200.

At one time or maybe two I did indulge a little and “treated myself,” but most of the time when this happens I cry a little, dream about being filthy, stinking rich and eventually send out a mass text to family and friends attaching an early Christmas list to the message.

Does it feel like a rip off? It’s debatable, but there’s no other place that makes brand new clothing like that for a cheaper price (and buying something from a sketchy site doesn’t seem very trustworthy) so I get it.

However, there’s nothing that says a vintage wardrobe has to be complete with new clothes and shoes. There’s nothing wrong with spoiling yourself and purchasing something new that will last awhile, but where do you go to find a few clothes that fit your style and your budget?

Antique Stores

In my experience, antique stores aren’t exactly helpful in finding clothes that actually fit my body type given the fact that I am a little taller and have bigger hips than the average woman in 1949 (and girdles aren’t a thing anymore either.) They also aren’t very cost effective. In fact, depending on the condition of the article of clothing, the era it’s from, the type of material it is, the brand and the dealer, something like a pair of jeans could cost the same as a new pair of jeans from a vintage-inspired clothing website or more.

But taking the chance and visiting a few is worth it because of the fun you’ll have. There was a time in my life when I was able to find clothes that fit me at antique stores and didn’t break the bank. Part of finding your vintage style is hunting for outfits and trinkets that would work, and it’s such a stress reliever to walk into an antique store and look around at all the stories that are attached to every item in that store. Even if you can’t find an outfit, antique stores are useful for finding vintage accessories like gloves, an old parasol, scarves or hats (but even those can be tricky since everyone seemed to be smaller back then).

Thrift Stores

Arguably the best place to discover vintage clothes that you thought you would never find is at a thrift store. Just this past week I found a dress that is 1940s-inspired but was made in the late ‘80s early ‘90s, and it’s beautiful. The dress isn’t tacky, it’s tasteful and it makes me happy. Looking good in it, naturally, is a plus.

Much like antique stores, sifting through layers of clothes and trying to find something that can be pulled off as “vintage inspired” is awesome. Also, there’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of when “thrifting.”

For some unfortunate, obnoxious reason there’s this negative stigma that is associated with buying clothes from second hand stores and that’s a load of bull.

What’s that old, cliché? One’s man’s trash is another man’s treasure? There is validity to that statement, and if you are passionate about finding your vintage vibe but don’t want to spend a fortune then go for it. Take a friend, make a date out of it and I promise you, you’ll have a fantastic time.


The one thing to keep in mind though regardless of shopping at a reputable online vintage-inspired website or roaming the aisles at your local antique store or thrift store, is to do your research. Know what styles existed during the era you want to adopt as your inspiration for that vintage look. Doing a little research will definitely come in handy too when you are at, say, a Goodwill, because at least you can find something that you can tweak to make you look like you stepped out of an old Vogue magazine. Also, it’s hard finding something that fits you, looks good or works with what you envision at first. But be patient, and don’t give up. If you’re passionate about it and stick with it, then you’ll be a pro and be able to spot things that are a original and a steal.

Analicia Haynes is a senior journalism major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].