“I collect antique clothes. My mother dressed me in antique clothes from the flea market,” — Nicole Kidman in USA Today


Vintage, antique or estate shopping is simply the best way to truly individualize your look with a truly one-of-a-kind piece. The best part of it all is that you won’t see anyone else wearing it….and it is a very chic way of personalizing your look with a special piece.


When shopping for pieces keep in mind that:

Antique = more than 100 years old

Vintage = at least 50 and up to 100 years old

Estate = pre-owned, anything old or new, purchased by a dealer from an estate


As I speak about vintage moving forward it includes antique, vintage and estate pieces as a generalization.


Stars and celebs wear vintage…how do I?


Now if you are like me, I am not particular to specific artists, designers or time periods. I totally buy on look and how the piece makes me feel. For me vintage is about a look or a specific piece I like. I am not a collector, I don’t buy items to be collectables and I don’t seek our specific designers. I just buy what I like and I seek out pieces that are unique and special. For me vintage is a great and fun way to add spice to an outfit. If you are shopping for clothing, keep these tips in mind:

Tip: Make sure that any item purchased does not have an odor. Nothing is fashionable if it smells like you grandmothers closet…or worst mothballs!

Tip: Always give vintage clothing items a really good inspection. They are old and they are used. Check for rips, holes, burns, and stains. Now if the piece does need some repair, make sure it is minor, so you don’t incur a large tailor bill. If you are going to begin shopping for vintage clothing, coats and furs talk to your tailor and get educated as to how much certain repairs cost. This way you can determine what repairs make sense and what is just too expensive.

Tip: If you like the piece but don’t like the buttons, that is a very, very easy fix. You can select new buttons and sew them yourself or better yet…bring them to the tailor! Replacing the buttons is extremely inexpensive and is a great way to add your personal flair and taste to a vintage favorite. And this is a great way to really change the look of a piece!


But vintage clothing can be tough. The sizes were much smaller in years past, so clothing can be a challenge, especially if you wear a larger size or have long arms. For me the issue is in the arm length. I have very long arms for my size and finding a good fit generally is difficult, but shopping vintage is especially challenging.

Tip: Vintage styles are smaller than styles today. But some styles are great for today, such as ¾ sleeves. I found that these are great for someone with long arms. Because you can kind-of fudge it and get away with them being a little shorter.

Tip: If the arm length is too short…make it ¾ length.


Vintage shopping is a very cool and hip way to get those unique or one-of-a-kind, style-making items for your wardrobe. My favorite is vintage jewelry. They just don’t make rhinestone eveningwear that that anymore…for the price. I love to watch the trends in fashion and then seek out vintage pieces that fit the trend, but are unique in their own right. For example, the whole pin/broach craze that was further validated by Sarah Jessica Parker in GAP ad campaign in Spring 2004?? (Validate this date) when she was adorned with all kinds of gorgeous broaches. To me this was the perfect way to expand the offering of vintage in my jewelry box. Not only could I get gorgeous pins, small, medium, large, rhinestone, colored stones, etc. and I could do it quite inexpensively.

Tip: Antique stores are loaded with pins and you can snag them for as little as $8.00. I purchased a huge 6” x 5” butterfly pin that features many colorful prong-set stones and a great deal of detail for $60.00! There really are HUGE opportunities and beautiful pieces to be found.

Tip: Make sure you really inspect vintage jewelry. Check that the clasps work properly, that all the stones are in tact and not loose and that the settings or prongs are flat and smooth. It is not a good deal if the stones fall out the first time you wear it.

Tip: Fully inspect stones for inclusions, chips, or cracks, especially ones that have dirt embedded in them.

CreativeShe: Take vintage clip earrings and wear them all over…how about the top of your shoes, or if your wearing Capri’s, a skirt or dress and wearing sling-backs…right on the strap. How about your belt loop. Or on the strap of a cami. One adorable look is to wear a narrow body poncho, diagonal with one arm out and put the clip earrings stacked (one, two, or three – they all don’t have to be the same) on the strap of the cami.

Tip: You can take those clip and screw back earrings to the jeweler and have them coverted to posts, French wire or lever-back. But remember the quality of the piece….don’t spend the money on a cheap pair!


I also love vintage beaded, evening bags, furs and coats. They are just another way of incorporating a special, unique piece into your personalized look.


StyleStory — A couple of years ago, I attended a vintage fashion show, outside Boston. I was one of the first to arrive….another great tip, claim your pieces early…before the crowd gets there – another example of how the early bird catches the worm. Well anyhow, I got to the event right when it opened so I could peruse the racks before the event. As I was heading over I saw the most gorgeous velvet leopard single breasted, mid-thigh length coat. It was a steal at $60.00. I have had the coat now for about three years. Every time I wear it strangers stop me and comment on how great my coat is. Fashion is about making your own style statement. For me this coat is one of my ‘individual’ personality pieces. It makes a simple jeans and t-shirt ensemble, a hip, funky original look. I feel stylish and chic. And ladies this is what it is all about!



Furs – Buying vintage can be a very cost effective way of getting that fur you want.

Tip: If you buy a fur at a discount or off-price store make sure you look at the stitching. You don’t want it if it is cracked or dry. Also inspect it well and be sure there are no rips or cigarette burn marks. Take your time and inspect every inch of it. If it does have a rip either on the fur or lining…it can be repaired. The longer or more extreme the rip, typically the more money it is to repair. If it is ripped off the seam….be careful. This can be a very expensive repair. But if it on the lining, you can have it re-lined…see next tip…

Tip: Bring that old fur to a furrier and have them clean and re-line it; sometimes if you relining they will embroider you name on the inside at no charge. This is a very SavvyShe way of getting your own personalized fur at a fraction of the cost.


Bags – oh some vintage bags are so beautiful. I personally love the embroidered ones in all sizes. You just can’t find bags like that today priced so inexpensively. I think that there is nothing better than having a fun outfit, either dressy or casual, and wearing a hip, cool vintage bag on your arm. To me that is style and a definite way to spot a stylish woman.

Tip: Make sure that there are no obvious stains on the outside of the bag. Yellow stains will just make the bag look old and dirty, not hip and stylish. Check the lining for rips. And remember based on the extent of the rip, it can be repaired at minimal cost.

Tip: Beaded bags can be fixed, but it can be quite pricey. Make sure if there are beads missing that it is a very small amount. If you buy a beaded bag for a great price but them go to a seamstress to get the beading fixed, it could actually cost you upwards of 5 to 10 times the price of the bag. This is not a bargain! If you do find a great beaded bag, see if the store has a return policy. Explain that you want to get a quote to repair the beading; the storeowner might extend a short time frame for return under these circumstances. It never hurts to ask. Or if you are in the market for a beaded bag, call a seamstress in advance and get educated as to how much is too much beading to replace and other pitfalls to watch out for, like ripped lining, staining, etc. Remember every smart SHE should be a SavvyShe.