How To Shop For Vintage

Sustainability is still one of the hottest topics in the fashion industry, which means shopping for vintage is more in vogue. We went to vintage shop owner Sara Waiste to ask her where we should start, what to look out for and how to style those newly-discovered pieces…

What are the main reasons to shop vintage?

The best reason to shop vintage is the sustainability aspect. It’s environmentally friendly and a greener way of shopping, as well as being a great way to rediscover and breathe new life into beautiful clothes. It’s also an opportunity to express your individuality. The majority of pieces are one of a kind, and no one else will have them.

What are the best items to buy vintage and why?

I much prefer the way older jeans are made, and as denim uses gallons of water and harsh chemicals in its production, it’s better for the environment to buy them pre-loved. Classic designer bags are great too – they’re always cheaper to buy vintage, as are timeless pieces like blazers and trench coats. Right now, the big trend seems to be vintage-inspired prairie dresses, and there’s a wealth of pre-loved ones on offer.

When it comes to buying vintage jeans, what should you consider?

Don’t be dictated by size labels. They’re almost always wrong as they’ve been worn, washed or shrunk, plus today’s size measurements are so different. Take a big selection in the changing room, size up and down and try on lots of different styles to find out what looks best.

Is there anything to avoid buying in vintage stores?

Anything that needs too much repairing or is heavily stained – unless you’re willing to pay a lot of money to fix it, it’s usually not worth it.

Don’t be afraid to get creative [...] if a maxi dress is too long you can shorten it, or even have it reworked into something else if you love the fabric but not the fit.

Do you have any tips on where to shop for vintage?

Apart from my own shop (Sara owns her own store, Waiste Vintage, in Brighton), my favourites are Paper Dress Vintage and Gigi’s Dressing Room. Amsterdam also has some great spots – I love Marbles, Penny Lane Vintage and Noordermarkt. My favourite place in LA has to be the Rosebowl flea market – it’s vintage heaven.

And, what about online?

For Love of the Moon, Bohème, Vestiaire Collective, Spanish Moss and Etsy all have amazing pieces. I check them almost daily.

Are there things to be wary of when vintage shopping online?

Always check the measurements properly and don’t be afraid to ask if you need more information. And read the description to see if there are any flaws listed that you may not be able to see.

How do you know whether a vintage designer piece is authentic?

There’s no shortcut unfortunately, but YouTube is a great place to watch how the experts check for fakes, particularly when it comes to handbags. Look at serial numbers, labels, authenticity cards and be aware that if the price is really low, it’s usually a warning sign. If you’re unsure, places like Vestiaire are great because they do all the  checking for you.

What’s been your best vintage find?

My tan vintage Chanel classic flap bag. So beautiful and the perfect colour.

Do you have any tips for styling up vintage finds?

Mixing and matching is key – a head to toe vintage look can sometimes look too much, so try and modernise your pieces by pairing them with your favourite brands. Try a vintage blouse with your favourite tailored trousers, or add a belt to a vintage blazer for a chic silhouette. 

When should you visit shops & markets?

Getting up early is so worth it when you want to get your hands on a gem. Another tip is to ask your favourite vintage shop to let you know when they’ve got their next delivery so you get first dibs.

Is it best to go in with an idea of what you want or just browse?

I usually have an idea but you discover the best pieces when you’ve not got your heart set on anything in particular. If you have the time, browsing is fun and really rewarding. 

Should you ever tweak vintage pieces, or is it best to leave them be?

Don’t touch anything designer, but you shouldn't be afraid to upcycle certain pieces if they need it, for example if they’re too big. Don’t be afraid to get creative either. If a maxi dress is too long you can shorten it, or even have it reworked into something else if you love the fabric but not the fit.

YouTube is a great place to watch how the experts check for fakes, particularly when it comes to handbags.


Waiste Vintage

Owned and curated by Sara, Waiste vintage is one of the hottest spots outside London for pre loved finds from multiple eras. Expect plenty of pretty 60s shift dresses and statement 70s prints. 

3 Gardner St, Brighton

Laura Von Behr 

Visits are by appointment only, but the rails at Laura von Behr’s studio are awash with feather-adorned, puff-sleeved delights that make it difficult to leave empty handed. Prices range from £150 to £250, although appointments are free of charge.

Hackney Downs Studios, E8 2BT

Found & Vision 

In the heart of Portobello, this vintage boutique counts Kate Moss, Florence Welch and Sienna Miller among its celebrity fans. Head there for a more curated selection of designer pieces if rummaging through rails isn’t your thing. 

104 Golborne Road, W10 5RU

Phoenix On Golborne 

Another must-visit on Golborne Road, this place is as famed for its antique furniture (housed on the first floor of the store) as its collection of vintage women’s clothing. New pieces arrive every week, so it’s worth regularly checking back for great finds.

67 Golborne Road, W10 5NP

Paper Dress Vintage 

Situated in the heart of Hackney, Paper Dress Vintage masquerades as an eclectic vintage shop by day, as well as hosting live music events by night, with pieces dating from the 1900s, all the way up to the 80s. 

352a Mare Street, London E8 1HR



Retold Vintage 

With a clean aesthetic and focus on tailoring, Retold Vintage is the ‘new Bottega’ for vintage lovers. Pieces are released in collections on intermittent drop dates that sell out quickly, so be sure to turn those notifications on.


Open For Vintage 

Hot on the heels of Vestiaire, Open For Vintage is fast becoming the online destination for pre-loved designer fashion. The site sells everything from clothing to jewellery, but it’s the handbags that deserve a special mention – Chanel, Hermès and Gucci are just some of the designer names on offer. 


Vestiaire Collective 

One of the most well-known sites for pre-owned luxury fashion, Vestiaire ensures secure online shopping with rigorous authenticity checks.


One Scoop Store

There’s something for everyone on One Scoop Store’s site, by which we mean everything from Zara biker jackets to Shrimps dresses at purse-friendly prices. 


For The Love Of Moon 

For The Love Of Moon takes vintage fabrics and reworks them into laidback, bohemian pieces that embody the spirit of Puglia, where the brand is based. Expect chunky knits and plenty of pretty blouses. 


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