Once upon a time, if I was looking for an ’80s-era Prince tee or a perfectly beat up leather jacket, it would come down to luck, timing and making friends with all the vintage pickers in town. These days, pretty much every vintage shop on Earth regularly posts its newly-arrived gems on Instagram, meaning my feed has quickly become a chic mobile-friendly marketplace of up-for-grabs throwbacks. Some of my fave wardrobe pieces are things I first spotted on IG (paper thin Morrissey tee, black silk trench, gorgeous embroidered kimono), so if you’re looking to get in on all the hot vintage action, read on for some v important advice on how to shop vintage on the ’Gram.
- First things first, follow some shops. Start with your local faves but def add any out-of-town boutiques you’re into. Vintage is no longer just a local racket—these shops have followers all over the world and most will ship internationally. (Note: you need Internet money for Internet dealings so make sure your Paypal account is active.) If you’re super new and you don’t know who to follow, start with my list below.
- Don’t be late to the game. Happening upon a Stevie Nicks shirt on your feed 5 hours after it was posted and then looking all desperate in the comments is no way to conduct yourself in public. Don’t be a hooligan. Turn on the notifications for your fave shops (YES THIS IS A THING THAT YOU CAN DO!) and never get caught out there like that again.
- Don’t play yourself. This is obvious but the thing about shopping on an app is you can’t try anything on. That combined with the no-returns situation means you really can’t afford to just assume it’ll fit because you love it so much. In order not to end up with an amazing item in a totally stupid size, Dennis Adamidis, owner of Toronto’s House of Vintage, recommends asking for the measured size vs. the tag size (we all know those things can’t be trusted). For tops, ask for the length and the pit-to-pit (aka. chest) measurements. For bottoms, you’ll want to know the waist and inseam/length. Shoes, deffffff get those suckers measured. Vanity sizing is real, people.
- Call dibs! Check the bio blurb for the shops preferred method of communication. If nothing is specified, the most accepted form of Instagram inquiry is the DM. Comments are also legitimate but in general, the more serious you are, the more direct you should be. Britt Rawlinson, owner of VSP Consignment in Toronto, says they only check their DMs a few times a day so the most successful Instagram shoppers pick up the phone and call. In other words, don’t sit around waiting for a reply to your “OMG WANT!” comment while some other chick swoops in and steals your swag.
- Do the opposite of me… and don’t tell everyone all the vintage secrets. Every person you blab to straight-up becomes your competition—especially if they’re the same size as you. If someone asks where you got your amazing jacket, just say “it’s vintage!” and leave it at that. The only thing more painful than missing out on a perfect, one-of-a-kind gem, is knowing your best friend got to the DM first. Happy hunting!
Some shops to get your obsession started (but not all the shops because secrets!):