I’m sure you all are as pleased as we are to be back at events being able to shop in person. But after a few years of missing out on events, it can all feel a bit overwhelming when you are faced with several halls full of delicious vintage. So here are our top tips to help you shop like a pro at vintage events!
- Know the lay of the land
It always pays to do a bit of research beforehand to find out who is trading and ideally where your favourite stalls will be located. It helps you get a bit of a plan together for your day and ensures that you don’t miss out on the best pieces which will likely sell quickly. Some organisers will be able to provide a list of traders, but otherwise look out for announcements from your favourite sellers on social media. Or of course ask us!
Vintage events can be enormous, sometimes encompassing an entire village, so if possible try to get an idea of where your favourite stalls will be located. We don’t always know this before setting up, but all big events will be set up the day before, so at the latest, we will be able to tell you on the evening before the show. Also, many traders have regular pitches where they stall every year, so you know you will be able to head straight there.
Make sure you know the opening times and show up right when the event opens if you can. The best items and true bargains will usually sell really quickly, so the early bird really does catch the worm! Some shows offer early entry for an extra charge (lots of the London shows do this) and it’s definitely worth spending the extra to get in there first.
- What to wear?
If you are planning on trying on clothes, make sure you think about this when planning your outfit for the day. Make sure you wear something that you can easily get in and out of, button down dresses and suits or separates are a good idea as you don’t have to pull them on over your head.
It is also a good idea to wear a slip or leggings and a camisole underneath in case there are no changing rooms or they are too busy. That way you can whip your outfit off and try on at the stand.
Opt for a simple hairdo that doesn’t dishevel easily and a hat that requires minimal pinning into place. You wouldn’t believe how many people end up spending 10 minutes repositioning their hat every time they try something on…that’s all potential shopping time!
A similar thing applies to bangles. We love big Bakelite stacks but all too often they get in the way of trying on sleeves, get taken off and accidentally left behind!
Make sure your shows are as comfortable as they can be because you will be walking a lot!
One huge request that all stallholders will agree on I think! Please make sure your make up and lipstick are firmly set and smudge proof and you use no residue deodorant. There is nothing worse than seeing clothing we have tirelessly cared for and restored soiled by smudged make up from careless trying on. At best the trader will be annoyed, at worst, they may ask you to pay for the damage.
- Your essential kit
It is really useful to have a kit of a few basics to make your shopping trip more straight forward:
- Measuring tape: many traders will have their own but it will be quicker and easier if you bring yours. That way you can measure pieces as you look at them and only try on what you are fairly sure will fit.
- A fabric bag: traders will of course give you a bag with your purchases but these can be of varying degrees of durability so why not bring your own and know it is not only sturdy but also helps the planet!
- Card and cash: Post-COVID virtually everyone will accept card payments but there can always be issues with card machines or reception and cash points may not be readily available nearby (Twinwood, we are looking at you here) so it is best to bring some cash just in case. You don’t want to miss out on a piece you love just because the card machine is broken!
- Know your measurements
This one will save you lots of time! Most stallholders will have the garment measurements labelled so if you know your vital statistics, it makes shopping super quick. At the very least, know your bust, waist and hip measurements and reconfirm them before the show to make sure they haven’t changed. That way you can avoid or minimise the need to try on, which is kinder on you as well as the garments.
- Have an idea of what you are looking for
If you are hunting for some specific pieces, it is always good to have a list. It is unlikely that you will find everything you are looking for but this way you are prepared. However, always be open to the treasures you didn’t know you needed yet because every so often the vintage gods will through you an absolute gem and you should be ready to grab it!
- Ask us all the questions
Traders love the pieces they sell and we will always be happy to tell you all we know about them, be that their history or information about the maker. This is as much part of the story of the garment and we will be only to delighted to pass this along with the piece itself.
We are always happy to advise on styling, fit and potential alterations to make the piece work for you. This is the most fun part of our job!
Also, if you are looking for something specific, ask! Most sellers know their stock pretty well and might be able to pull out a piece you have overlooked that could be just perfect for you. Volup ladies, the same goes for you, traders usually have a rough idea at least on which pieces are larger in size so if they are not marked out separately, give us a shout and we will be glad to point you in the right direction.
Ultimately this is one of the biggest benefits of shopping in person, you get an expert’s input on the piece and styling so take full advantage!
Copyright © Marie-Christin Coomber, July 2022