Sunday, October 28, 2012

Buying Vintage Clothing Online: Getting a Good Fit

From time to time I'll get a message from a customer or even a personal friend asking if a particular piece of clothing will fit.  Even after I've given them the measurements, they just aren't sure.  It would be wonderful if I could invite everyone to my studio to try the clothing on but in 99.9% of cases that's just not possible.

Sassy Sister Vintage Studio

Here are my best tips for deciding if a piece of vintage clothing will fit when buying online.  (I'm mostly going to focus on dresses since they are a top seller.)

First off and most important, pay attention to measurements and not a particular size category that an online dealer may put the piece in.  A size category is a guess or estimate and could vary greatly.  It may or may not be accurate.  Also, the size marked on vintage clothing is different that the sizing today.  Never rely on the size marked on a piece of vintage clothing or you may end up getting something that is considerably ill fitting.  For example, I wear a size 4 in modern sizes but around a size 12 in clothing from 50 years ago.  The most important measurements are the bust, waist and hips (unless the dress has a full skirt, then there should be lots of room and the measurement, if any is given, isn't as important.  This measurement will usually be marked "free" or "open".)

The easiest way to decide if something will fit would be to get a measuring tape and a dress with a similar cut that you already have in your closet and compare the measurements of that one against the measurements of the one you're interested in.  In reality I realize that you may not have a similar cut dress.  Additionally, many times the measurements of vintage dresses can be quite different that the measurements of modern dresses.  But in best case scenario I would suggest doing this first.  Below are 3 dresses similar enough in style that measurements can be compared:

My second suggestion would be to take a measuring tape and measure around your bust, waist and hips leaving a half inch or so for movement within the clothing.  Write these measurements down and refer to them when deciding if a certain piece of vintage will fit.  Take consideration into the cut and if it's supposed to have a snug fit or if there's supposed to be more breathing room.  For instance, if a dress is supposed to be super fitted then it's okay to not add a 1/2" or so. 

A reputable vintage clothing dealer will give you accurate measurements.  Remember to ask questions before buying if you have any.  Most online vintage clothing dealers want you to ask any questions you may have regarding the fit or condition so that it's a clean and seamless transaction.   If there's additional measurements you would like that you feel should have been included, don't hesitate to ask.  Also, remember to read shop policies before purchasing.  This way you'll know if the shop owner accepts returns, how your package will be sent and when it'll be sent.

Remember, many pieces of vintage can always be taken in, shortened or altered a bit if needed.  Better to buy just a bit too large than too small.  If a piece seems just a tad big  email the shop owner to see if the piece is made in such a way that it can be altered.

Why shop vintage?

I've noticed especially in the past several years that "mall" clothing has become particularly cheap looking and cheaply made, everything from the fabric to the construction.  It does not hold up well and falls apart easily,   Additionally, it seems frumpy and untailored.

You've heard the term "history repeats itself", clothing is no exclusion.  Styles that you see today are styles from years past.  The difference is that when you buy authentic vintage you're typically buying something that is superior in quality and construction.  And in many cases you have something that is unique and very few other people have.  Buying vintage is truly a great way to show off your unique style and it's very much in style!

Mix and Match

I personally think a mixture of modern and vintage worn together looks best.  Wearing vintage from head to toe can look dated and costume-ish.  A good mixture of both is your best bet.  Remember that it doesn't have to match perfectly but it just needs to look good together.

A 1940s Dress from SassySisterVintage

Vintage inspired shoes with a modern twist from www/

I hope these suggestions have been helpful to you in purchasing vintage online.  If you have any questions or any suggestions that would further help buyers, please don't hesitate to ask or comment.

Just Blog!

Although I'd like to blog everyday, figuring out what to blog about can be a challenge. When I saw these suggestions above I wanted to share them.