How to Score the Perfect Vintage Dress

Finding the one-of-a-kind dress that sets you apart from the crowd may take a little extra work. Especially if you’re foregoing the mall to set your sights on a one-of-a-kind hidden gem that’s tucked away in a thrift store. It doesn’t take long for a first-time thrifter to become a veteran, follow our tips to stay savvy in the store, whether it’s Value Village or a tiny boutique.

Size doesn’t matter:
Not only do sizes change extensively from store to store, but over the last few decades, vanity sizing merchandise has changed the way sizing works altogether. The double-zero is not a thing of the past, so don’t be shocked when a size 8 appears tiny. Also factor into consideration that you may find a piece that is labeled with a UK size – where a North American size 8 is a UK size 12. Even if something is too big, remember that it’s an easy fix to take in a side or back seam to alter the garment. Don’t pass on that incredible floral no one else will be wearing because it’s a little big.

Remember the department store:
Eaton’s has long been forgotten as a destination to shop, but in it’s prime it was a wise choice for well-made (often Canadian made) house labels not found anywhere else. Keep your eyes open for well-known U.S department store giants too: Sak’s Fifth Avenue and Nordstorm produced plenty of their own luxury-label quality pieces.

Unleash your inner artist:
Let your creative mind run wild. A long dress can be instantly short and sweet with a hemming. Get out your hand-sewing guide from Home Ec and brush up on your skills. Shoulder pads are no match to a pair of scissors. Even if they’re sewn in, this is an easy project for a tailor. Tarnished (or just plain ugly) buttons can be swapped for your own new favourites that are easily found at a notions shop.

Check it twice:
Give the dress of your dreams a once (or twice) over before you purchase. Check for stains, holes, snags, missing buttons, etc. Know if there’s a lot of work involved before you purchase. Even if a hole turns up, you may be able to have that part darted or hemmed.

Be an A-Lister:
Lots of great independent shops (and even the local Salvation Army and Value Village) have a mailing list. Sign up for emails so that you know when sales are happening. Getting your favourite find of the trip for 50% off, or on $1.99 day makes the hunt so worth it.

Tags: DIY, how to buy vintage, shopping thrift, summer dresses, vintage dresses, vintage finds

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