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How-to Shop Vintage Designer

The words vintage & designer bring me so much joy, it's actually a problem. (but seriously).

This obsession dates back to my childhood when I saw how put together my two nonnas (grandmothers) always were. From St. John skirt suits to silk Hermes scarves, it was just a different era and they both had a knack for fashion. At this time, I had no idea who or what these designers were, I just loved seeing all of the glam in their closets. This was always the case with my mom and aunts, too and I of course started to develop a love for vintage pieces.

Vintage designer pieces are sometimes very tricky to come by and many people out there truly do look for certain pieces and collect them. For me, I am grateful that I have even just a few older pieces that my grandmothers used to wear because It makes me feel as if they're always with me in some way.

Recently, I have really been getting into vintage shopping. At first, the thought of this type of shopping seemed tedious and even a bit off-putting. Until, two of my girlfriends introduced me to how fun this activity can really be! This past summer we spent the whole day at a fashion/art fair in Chicago and I fell in love with this idea. In this post, I will give you some details on where to shop for these pieces and what to look for when shopping designer and authenticity.

Where-to Shop for Vintage & Designer wear:

Chicago has some of the most fun and eclectic vintage shops I have ever been to. A lot of neighborhoods like Andersonville & Wicker Park have so many small shops with amazing pieces, you just have to be PATIENT and look. Here are a few great shops in the Chicago area for vintage / thrifting & designer wear. I recently found some great pieces @ Vintage Underground in Wicker Park, as well as the Randolph Street Art Fest in Chicago.

How-to Shop for Vintage & Designer wear:

The most important thing to do is educate yourself! There are may great articles and blog posts out there on this topic. Thrifting and vintage shopping is a bit different because some items of course won't be designer and sometimes the more worn or eccentric looking the better! Hey, if you love the look of something it sometimes won't even have a tag or a brand name and that is OK, too! That is the beauty of this type of shopping...literally anything goes! BUT when looking for something specific, especially a designer piece like vintage Chanel, Gucci, Hermes, LV, Escada, Prada, YSL, etc., don't rush it and let the item come to you. If you want something specific & authentic DO NOT settle.

Be on the look-out for the following things when shopping:

  • Check-for inside tags with correct labels
  • Check-for  inside tags with style numbers
  • Check-for original lining 
  • Check-for original buttons, buckles & hardware
  • Check-for missing buttons, buckles & hardware, etc.
  • Check-for holes
  • Negotiate pricing
  • Ask questions like...what era is this from?
  • Has this been refinished at all or is this the original state in which you found the item?
  • Where did you find this piece?

Original buttons on outside of coat

Original buttons inside and out

Original inside tag

Original silk lining

This type of shopping is best when you aren't looking for anything in particular at all and sometimes, like this gorgeous 1970's Chanel coat I snagged, (pictured) the item just comes to you and even fits you like a glove! As cliche as that sounds, it is true! I had ZERO intention of buying a fall/winter vintage Chanel coat in the middle of July (and my bank account also had no intention of this impulse buy!) BUT it spoke to me and I knew it would be a long-time staple piece in my wardrobe. These days, I tend to buy more classic pieces that will last.

My two girlfriends helped talk me into it and I am so glad that they did! I have been wearing this piece as an actual light-weight coat and a blazer. It's super versatile and needless to say, I am obsessed! ;)

Plus, the beauty about my new favorite coat is, vintage Chanel is always in style! ;)

Happy Shopping!

XO,

JC

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