I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t enjoy thrifting. Still, the idea of it always appeals to me. I have some sort of Cinderella fantasy of walking into some little-known shop and finding a vintage Dior cocktail dress that fits me like a glove—for only $5!
Unfortunately, resale shops are rarely as glamorous as urban myths depict. Typically, I wander into Goodwill or an over-priced specialty shop to sift through an overwhelming pile of out-grown Abercrombie T-shirts as my eyes start reacting to my dust allergy. In the end, I walk out with an oversized sweater that still smells like old people, no matter how many times I wash it, all for the thrill of saying, “Oh this? It’s vintage.”
There has to be a better way. And thanks to technology, there is. You can peruse once-loved clothing on Amazon or eBay, though these vendors can be just as overwhelming as your local Salvation Army. I would recommend using Amazon to find discounted designer brands, not your version of Madonna’s wardrobe in "Desperately Seeking Susan."
Other sites feature exclusively resale or vintage items. Exboyfriendjewelry.com allows the heartbroken to get rid of that last reminder of Mr. Wrong. The tagline is “You don’t want it, he can’t have it back.” You can buy or sell on this site, and each item comes with not only product-specific details but also a background story. If you’re not afraid of bad karma, this is a great place to find some unlucky guy’s (or cheating jerk’s) nana’s sapphire ring from the 1940s.
Strictly vintage sites, such as adorevintage.com and rustyzipper.com are also a great place to start. Rusty Zipper has a huge selection and filters by categories, such as “women’s hippie clothing.” In contrast, Adore Vintage has a much smaller selection, which is great because the clothes are selected so that every piece is lovely.
The same shops we've all grown to know and love are now offering a vintage selection, as well. Urban Outfitters, Free People, Nasty Gal, American Apparel and ASOS all have sections dedicated to vintage clothing and accessories.
Most of these retailers offer one-of-a-kind pieces. Urban Outfitters features one-of-a-kind pieces, as well as Urban Renewal apparel, which are pieces made from vintage, dead stock and surplus material.
I recommend the oxford boyfriend shirt for $38 or the wool plaid mini skirt for $48. ASOS recently launched the ASOS Marketplace, which not only sells vintage pieces, but also features wardrobe recycling and boutiques with “the best in emerging design talent, independent labels and vintage specialists.”
Maybe this new approach takes the magic away from the usual treasure hunt, and I concede there still is a place for traditional resale shopping, especially with the numerous high-caliber vendors in Columbia. But, for those who can’t stand the cramped, musty, dark spaces that are most antique shops or for those who want to expand their market, this is the new generation of vintage shopping.