One of my favorite pastimes is hunting for vintage or retro pieces to add to my growing collection of fantastic finds. Thrift stores, antique markets, estate sales or your grandma’s basement, I’ve probably shopped it.

Sure, it can be a bit hard to get past the initial mothball smell, often present in older items or worse yet, a questionable stain, but honestly it feels like retail heaven to me. I love sifting through bins of vintage and retro castaways, looking for something I haven’t seen a million times on a million different girls. It feels, well, special to find that unique clothing or jewelry item that hasn’t seen daylight since the 50s.

Some of my favorite finds include a vintage Oscar de la Renta dress, retro crystal jewelry and a vintage Chanel blazer. Adding a unique element to every outfit, I like feeling that a vintage item adds another voice to the look, a conversational piece.

You can check out more of my favorite looks incorporating vintage finds and how I styled them below, but first here are a few tips when searching for the perfect vintage find:

1. Do your homework and know your vintage. Study when your design house of choice first began making clothing. Did they sew in their labels? Understand Union Tags. Because vintage has become so trendy, marketing items as such has become just as popular so research is key.

2. Sizing. Vintage clothing general runs small. So be sure to try that glitter explosion on before taking it home. Too big? Factor in the possibility of getting it tailored.

3. Love it but don’t love that questionable stain. Every vintage item has a story, but I have a rule—no visible stain above the size of a dime. Then, take into consideration the fabric, and lastly that the fashion Gods invented dry cleaning. Always dry clean your vintage scores.

4. One of the most popular questions asked via email from the readers of my fashion blog is where exactly to find these fantastic treasures. Well, besides your grandmas basement check out estate sales, partnering charities, thrift stores, antique markets and garage sales, to name a few. It has been only on rare occasions that I’ve purchased something in a store that markets themselves as a vintage only store, mainly because of the inflated prices. Plus, the hunt is the biggest thrill.

5. And lastly, vintage vs. retro. Carry this tip with you always. Vintage tends to mean an item that is 20 to 25 years old or older, where as a retro item tends to mean the revival of a more recent era. Don’t be tricked by crafty marketing.

Vintage clothing styled by Jesa Townsend

Vintage clothing

Mixing low-end retro and/or vintage finds with high end designer wardrobe staples makes for a unique and often more affordable look. And what’s better yet, vintage shopping now seems to be a coveted pastime by the trendy and budget babes alike. Happy hunting!

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