Whether you are a frugal person trying to get a great deal or you are a celebrity trying to find something unique, vintage clothing has become increasingly popular. For many women, wearing vintage is all about the hunt to find that perfect piece.

What exactly qualifies clothing as being “vintage” rather than “antique” or “contemporary”? Generally the term is used to described any clothing made from the 1920′s through the 1970′s.

Linda S. Froiland is a wardrobe stylist and image consultant with more than twenty years experience. She has worked on studio and independent films, style shows, and has a vintage clothing business with a partner.

Karla: If you’ve never bought vintage clothing before, where should you start? How do you know which stores to go to, which pieces to purchase, and how much you should pay for them?

Linda: To get started purchasing vintage clothing, I would suggest doing some investigating on the internet. You will find information regarding pricing, what is out there selling, and it will help you develop an “eye” for what you might be looking for. Once you have a good idea of what things cost, start visiting the shops in your city or town. Pricing throughout the country can be dramatically different with the East and West Coast having higher pricing than the middle of the country. Vintage clothing stores will often specialize in a certain era, or a type of clothing such as women’s dresses, men’s suits, platform shoes, etc. As you become familiar with the various stores and the people who work there, have them keep an eye out for items that may be of interest to you.

Shopping vintage is just like shopping for new clothes off the rack. Keep in mind your budget and look for styles that are flattering on you, just as you would with new clothing. Vintage is not so sacred that you can’t alter it so it fits you perfectly. Consider what it would cost to alter an item or see if you can do the work yourself. As with anything, don’t buy something that does not fit your needs or your budget. Remember, sometimes head to toe vintage can be overdone. It’s far more interesting to mix your vintage finds with newer items. Develop a style for yourself, just as you would with new clothing.

Karla: How about shopping for vintage clothing online? Which sites do you recommend using?

Linda: Vintage shopping online is just as rewarding as shopping for anything else online. Make sure the vendor or site has been in business for awhile and that the items they are shipping are in good condition. Ebay and Esty are great places to start as they rate and monitor their sellers so you know you can trust what you get. Remember to shop only for what you are looking for and what will look good on you. If you have done your research and you have the “vintage bug”, you will know how and when to shop vintage online.

Here are some great sites to get started on:

The Frock. Authentic, certified clothing from celebrities. It’s pricey, but really fun to look at.
Dorothea’s Closet. For great vintage hats for women.
Nelda’s Vintage. Makes it easy and fun to find both men and women’s vintage clothing and accessories.
Proper Vintage. Men and women’s clothing, with great photography and descriptions.
Rusty Zipper. Very stylized and organized, so it’s fun shopping this site.

Karla: What should you do if you are interested in starting to sell vintage pieces? Are there certain designers or items that sell better than others?

Linda: So you want to sell vintage? For online selling both Esty and Ebay might be a good way to start. You can get used to the business without breaking the bank by designing and maintaining your own website. Once you know what you are doing you can create your own store, either online or freestanding.

With online stores the photography is extremely important. Learn how to style items so they are shown in the best possible way. You will want to invest in a good camera, dress forms and background sets. Choosing backgrounds in colors that flatter the garment will be important for both the look of the website and to show off the garment. When displaying either on a website or in a store, pay special attention to what attracts you to shopping and choosing an item. Is it how it’s styled with other items, the colors,or the eras that are mixed together to create a look that makes you want to buy?

If it’s a freestanding store consider being a part of a group of vendors in an antique mall. That way you don’t always have to be there to sell, leaving you time to find more inventory. Be clever about displaying the items and make sure everything is in clean and repaired condition. Otherwise it will not sell. Vintage shoppers are savvy, as they too, have educated themselves. They are looking for value and items that are in good shape.

Become an expert on a certain type of clothing such as women’s dresses from the 40′s, hats, or men’s suits. The more you know, the more information you can share with clients. Clients love stories connected to clothing. If you chose products that you are interested in yourself, your enthusiasm for the clothing will come through to your clients. You will need to know how to sew. If you don’t already know how, you will want to develop a relationship with a seamstress or tailor that you trust. Often times items will need some mending. You will also want the same type of working relationship with a dry cleaner. Learn how to remove stains and clean items yourself. If accessories such as purses and shoes are what you are looking to sell, have a great leather smith or shoe repair close at hand. Learn how to remove stains and glue trim back on to leather. Clothing sells the best when it’s in pristine condition.

Finding the items will be a large part of your day. You will want to shop garage sales, estate sales and monitor the daily newspaper for house sales that might include clothing. Eventually your clients, friends and family will start to recognize items you might like to sell as you develop your expertise or look and bring items to you. Other stores and vendors are a great place to look. Antique stores that don’t sell clothing will often end up with an item or two they can’t or don’t want to put on display. Often times if you develop relationships with other sellers you can barter if you have something they want.

Karla: Any other tips you would like to share with us regarding women’s vintage clothing?

Linda: Be a savvy shopper when buying vintage. Again, buy only the styles and colors that look good on you. Always have a budget and only buy what you know you will wear or need. Make sure shoes are comfortable. If they aren’t when you purchase them, they won’t be later on either. Do not dress head to toe vintage. No one wants to look like a museum.

Thank you so much to Linda for sharing her knowledge and experience with us. For more information or to contact her, please go to her website at www.LindaSFroiland.com.