5 Pro Tips for Shopping Men’s Vintage
With practice, looking great in vintage fashion can be as easy as it looks
It’s easy to stereotype men in their approach to fashion. One common theme gents tend to apply to their appearance is simplicity. Muted colors, simple prints, and comfort are all key elements to the average male wardrobe. Don’t click away now, Mr.-Plain-Black- T-Shirt! This article is addressed to you— We’re here to help!
Yes, at most turns in life, simplicity is good. Simple is easy, or should be. It’s a principle that, when applied to aspects of our lives that can become overly complex, helps keep us grounded.
If a simple closet works for you, great! If you’re thinking about mixing it up a little, even better! We’re setting “simple” aside for this exercise, so don’t bother queuing up browser tabs for the first few mainstream fashion brands that come to mind. They’re easy, but they won’t be needed unless a desperation undershirt or fresh pack of undies is on the list.
Shopping vintage has always been in. Fashion as a whole is always influenced by the past, both recent and distant, what worked and what didn’t. In that way, you can consider most items hanging in a vintage shop to have already passed a checkpoint or two. A small army of people along the way have decided it does work. Most of the hard work is done before you even walk in!
Walking in, however, is not the hard part. With these five tips, I’ll try to take some sting out of starting a vintage collection, small or large. I promise, the compliments you’re about to receive on your wardrobe are worth the pain, and then some.
The clothes don’t care who wear them
They cared even less in decades past. Any vintage store’s big boxy women’s outwear collection is one you want to familiarize yourself with. Kimonos, robes, capes, belts, hats, and scarves are some additional non-gender specific items to consider. Pants, too, if you don’t mind a low waist.
Keep an eye out for jackets with shoulder pads— and gently cut them out to open space for your manly shoulders and boyish dance moves.
Visit any music festival in America and you’ll find men wearing things a whole lot more daring than women’s clothing. On the contrary, browsing the ladies section in a vintage store is a sign of insider knowledge— like ordering from the secret menu at In N Out. The idea is to look good. Who cares which rack you found it on?
Did we just become best friends?
Now what? Thrift store... E-Bay... Garage Sale? Matching-up with a local picker or savvy vintage boutique is key in this process. You wouldn’t buy Jordans from an RV salesman. Vintage fashion experts are just that, they know what works and why.
Ask questions. Try things on. Visit early and often. Vintage inventories are on constant rotation with one-of-a-kind and limited collection items. Once they’re gone, they’re gone!
Most importantly, find a picker whose taste you respect and trust. You’ll find that vintage shops carry a loose visual theme in their garments, whether intended or not, based on the owner or stylist’s preferences. It may be love-at-first-sight, it may not be. Keep looking. Find your taste-maker and be pals! They’ll remember friendly faces and even keep you in-mind when they’re on the hunt.
With your patronage, you’re helping to slow the negative environmental impact of fast- fashion, and supporting a local small business! That’s killing two birds with one vintage Rolling Stones jacket.
Keep your eyes on the size
In past eras, garment sizes were more nuanced. Checking labels in a vintage store can sometimes feel like reading a different language, or ten at once. My best advice, here, is to try things on. If you’re browsing online, check or request measurements, and know your own numbers like the back of your hand. Don’t measure the back of your hand, though. You don’t need that number.
Isn’t it funny to consider that, with most men’s clothing, brands are assuming your body to be one of only three or four sizes? Shopping vintage is a great way to find truly flattering clothing for your individual shape and physique. Don’t feel bad that your clothes don’t fit. They probably don’t.
Color outside the lines
As well as your monochrome basics have treated you over the years, isn’t it time to spice things up a bit? Men are often blown-away at first discovery of the limitless color and pattern palette found in a well-curated vintage store. Dive in, head first! Swim a few laps in the rainbow and find yourself pairing prints and scheming schemes in no time.
Take the next step in your vintage evolution by learning how to hand-wash garments to preserve the lush tones and fine stitching of your secondhand scores.
Be at peace with the piece
Bravery isn’t a term often associated with men’s fashion. But, making the call to venture into vintage waters isn’t one you’re likely to make lightly. It’s ok to start slow with one piece that helps to ease you into the mindset. After checkout, though, don’t overthink it. You loved it. You bought it. Rock it!
Be at peace with your own developing tastes and with your new, more interesting, reflection in the mirror. It’s ok to be different! Save the simplicity for grocery lists and GPS directions.