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Step 4 of 6 - Your guide to get started with Vintage & Second Hand

Understanding vintage stores - How to find the hidden gems

Goals for this step: Understand how vintage and second hand stores are structured, and how to find your way in store

Estimated time: 7 min read, 10 min assignment

Think again and learn to find hidden gems

In an ordinary clothing store, items are clearly presented, sorted by trends or collections, making it easy for shoppers to get a feel for the supply. You're able to swiftly browse various different items sorted by colour and size without risking missing out on anything.

No wonder entering a large vintage or second hand store can be mildly panic-inducing. But don't worry, you're about to read the complete guide to how most second hand stores are structured.

Sorted by garment type and colour

Most often, the mens and womens sections are sorted by garment and colour. You always find trousers and pants in one place, skirts in another and dresses in a third one. Then they are sorted by colour, making it easier for you if you already know what your new item needs to match.


Looking for shoes, purses, scarves, belts or jewelry? These items are often found in their own “accessories section”, as well as being displayed throughout the store. Accessories, like clothing items, are most often sorted by colour.

“Novelty” and “special” sections

Many vintage and second hand stores have one or more “special sections” varying in theme depending on the store's niche. This could be trend based items, sought after designer items, or unique vintage finds. Often based on a common theme or era, these sections can be highly inspirational.


Whether the store sorts by size or not is very individual. Larger second hand and thrift stores often section by garment type, size and color, while smaller second hand, consignment and vintage stores mainly sort by garment type, size and possibly trend. Sizing is always a tough one when it comes to vintage since a size 10 from 1974 wildly differs from its modern equivalent. Not to mention how modern sizing can differ from brand to brand. Look for styles and fits you enjoy, estimate if they'll look good on you, and prepare to try on a lot of clothing. After a while, you'll get a feeling for if items will fit you or not based on how they look on the hanger. It's all about experience, have fun!

See something you like in the display?

Don't be afraid to ask to try on items displayed on a mannequin or the shop window. Most vintage and second hand store staff will happily get you the item to try on. Yes, even if you don't know if you actually want to buy it.


Prepare for your vintage shopping spree!

  1. Make a plan Make sure you have enough time for your first shopping trip. As a vintage rookie you can't blast through a vintage or second hand store like you could a high street one without missing out on the serious gems. Take your time and enjoy the hunt.

  2. Bring a friend Plan a vintage date with a friend who shares your interest and enjoys the process. You'll have style advice close at hand and they can help you get other things to try on while you're in the changing room. Pro tip: Bring a friend who has a different style from yours to minimize the risk of you both wanting the same items.

  3. Scout the best stores Do a quick google search for vintage or second hand stores near you and look at reviews to narrow down your trip to the best ones for you.


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