How to Score the Best Vintage Clothing for Fall

I can’t believe how fast September flew by. It doesn’t help that the month was quite the whirlwind; from my friend Lisa tying the knot, to visiting NYC for Fashion Week, to Bellevue Fashion Week, and ending the month off with a cold. Go figure. No crazy month would be complete without getting sick at least once. Or twice if you count food poisoning in NYC. Oy.

Regardless, I made the best of what time I did have between all the crazy, and did a lot of fall shopping, bought some new old furniture, and made some minor progress on getting more settled here in our new home. And when I say minor, I mean minor. There are still piles all over the house that need to be organized, however, most of the boxes have been emptied so that’s good!

Disclosure: Affiliate links are used in this post. All opinions are my own!

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Photos by Lisa of Story of My Dress

How to Shop for the Best Vintage Clothing

With fall here now, I’ve been unpacking some of my favorite pieces out of their storage bins and I find that over and over again the ones that I keep around have something major in common: they’re old. Old as in vintage. My favorite fall pieces often come from my favorite eras, the 60s and 70s. I don’t know what it is about that time, maybe it’s the polyester, the fun colors, or the funky patterns. But whatever it is, I love it, and a lot of you seem to also. I thought I’d share a few tricks to finding the best vintage pieces that you’ll also want to keep around year after year.

Ignore the sizes

My number one thrift shopping tip? Ignore the sizes. Seriously. I have found some of the best gems either, 1. in the wrong section completely, or 2. in the wrong size. Often, vintage sizing is drastically different than modern day sizes anyway so often it’s worth trying on if you think it might fit. I recently scored an adorable 70s dress that is labeled a size 5 and fits me perfectly. I was honestly a bit shocked. The dress I’m wearing in today’s post doesn’t even have a legible size, so you just never know until you try it!

Stalk eBay for hard to find items

My Frye Campus Boots? Totally vintage. While they still make this exact style, it has evolved a bit from these 70s babies. Call me crazy, but I love a good broken in pair of boots, and the price tag was much more reasonable too! So how did I find these for less than $50 (including shipping! What!) without spending 2085973 years checking every thrift store? eBay! Yep, eBay is still around and if you’re willing to wait, stalk, hunt, and snipe, you too can score an amazing deal on a vintage pair of boots, or whatever it is your heart desires.

My trick for shopping on eBay? Set alerts! I use the iPhone app and get push notifications once a day when new listings matching my search parameters come up. Be sure to do a very specific search and a more general one. These boots were not labeled as “campus boots” and came up under my general search for “Frye Boots” which I think is why I was able to get them for such a great price!

Garage sales? Hard pass.

YMMV (your market may vary) with this one, but I find garage sales to be one of the worst places to shop for vintage. Maybe it’s bad luck, or maybe my neighbors just don’t have great style but I find that often it’s just someone’s fairly recent closet rejects. So that’s why I always…

Seek out estate sales instead

If you have yet to shop estate sales, you’re missing out on the real gems. Try Craigslist,, and for a list of upcoming sales near you. You often can find them happening on weekends (Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays are the most common), and some estate sales skip in person and are just online! I’ll have a more detailed post on how I shop estate sales for more than just vintage clothes soon, but the short of it on scoring a clothing gem is pretty simple.

Preview the photos on the website. Does something catch your eye? Then chances are they’ll be even more of it there! Don’t be afraid to shop straight out of closets, dig around in shoe piles, dive into scarf piles, and search through plastic bins of costume jewelry. It may make you feel a bit odd the first time, but it’s well worth it when you find the perfect piece!

Hit up specialty sales or grand openings at your local thrift store

Do your local thrift shops run special sales a few times during the year? From tag sales to manager specials to specialty sales, thrift stores often have many events to lure shoppers in. Personally, I’ve found tag sales to be just okay. Instead, I’ve had better luck at grand opening sales. Often, the store is overstocked and items are fresh donations. I often notice that prices aren’t sky high quite yet since newer people are working. Or maybe that’s just my imagination, who knows.

Other than grand openings, follow some of your favorite thrift stores on social media to find out about specialty sales. Several times during the year, for instance, Seattle Goodwill has special sales like the Glitter Sale and the Designer Accessories Sale. They often tease these events on Facebook by posting sneak peeks, running contests, and sharing tips for shopping the sale. It’s kind of a huge deal for those in the know, so if you’re in Seattle be sure you check this sale out! It’s traditionally held in mid-November.

Don’t forget about Etsy

I’ll be honest, even I sometimes forget that Etsy exists, and they almost always have exactly what I’m looking for. I find that you might have to pay a premium for that convenience of someone else cleaning something up for sale, however, Etsy supports great small business entrepreneurs and that is something I love! From typewriters to vintage clothes and shoes to costume jewelry from any era, you can find all of it and more on Etsy. Or you know, you can buy new stuff to go with your styling vintage duds. No judgment here. ;)

And that’s exactly how I find my absolute favorite vintage pieces. The dress in this post was from the Seattle Goodwill Glitter Sale last year, the boots were an eBay score, and the accessories are all new finds. I love a good mix of old and new for a modern take on 70s style! Hopefully, I’m not alone in still digging the 70s vibes this fall.

What’s your favorite thrift or vintage score? Do you have a tip or trick that you’ve found works great when shopping second hand? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

3 thoughts on “How to Score the Best Vintage Clothing for Fall

  1. Maria

    I am a big fan of ebay too! I buy designer shoes on there for a tiny fraction of the cost! Sometimes they will be discounted so much because they have some itty bitty, minor flaw like a missing heel cap. My cobbler can fix for $10! Totally worth it when the original sticker price of the shoe is in the hundreds!! People laugh when they ask when I say I found it on ebay, but hey, don’t knock it ’til you try it!

  2. Allison

    “Ignore the sizes” is the best advice you can give when vintage shopping. I love that so much. I used to be really upset when I couldn’t fit into my “modern day size” in vintage. Now I understand that the times have just changed.

    I always forget about etsy too! You’re totally right, they almost alwayyyys have what I’m looking for. Great post! <3


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