A Guide to Shopping for Vintage Clothing Online (2023)


From broken-in denim to band tees, the vintage look has never gone out of style - even if the clothing has gone out of production.

You can’t even walk through a Target these days without seeing some piece of “vintage-inspired” clothing or accessory. From broken-in denim, to band tees, to artfully distressed leather jackets, the vintage look has never gone out of style – even if the items of clothing have gone out of production.

“I think a lot of it has to do with nostalgia,” says Avery Plewes, a Toronto-based costume designer who pulled racks of vintage designer clothing for the Kristen Stewart and Laura Dern film, JT LeRoy. “While you may outgrow the phase in your life where you listened to a particular band, a tee is a reminder of a period in your life, and the artist that was the soundtrack to that time. Also,” she adds, “a vintage T-shirt is almost always more comfortable, because it has been broken-in by the person who owned it before you.

A Guide to Shopping for Vintage Clothing Online (1)

(Video) How to online shop for vintage clothes: Beginner guide and closet tour!

Vintage is big business these days for both retailers and individuals alike. While you can spend your weekends scouring flea markets and thrift shops, a number of sites have also made vintage shopping more accessible than ever before, letting users browse, shop and order everything online. The key to getting a good deal: make sure you do your research and due diligence before hitting the buy button. Here are a few tips to help you succeed in your vintage shopping experience.


If you’re looking to score that special piece, your first bet should be eBay. The online marketplace is one of the largest and most popular places for vintage apparel and accessories. The site’s huge breadth of inventory has everything from luxury and designer items, to rare, one-of-a-kind pieces.

“When it comes to vintage, we offer an amazing selection of retro and hard-to-find clothing and accessories that our community of sellers from around the world are listing daily,” says Bradford Shellhammer, Global Head of Buyer Engagement & Growth at eBay.

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What we like: eBay has easy-to-figure-out filters in place that shoppers can use to narrow down the style, brand and decade that they’re looking for, from iconic brand tees, to a 1960s band jacket, to 1990s Dr. Martens. “And,” Shellhammer adds, “we have tons of styles for any type of budget, whether you’re looking for a unique, designer coat to add to your wardrobe, collecting vintage rock band tees, or on the hunt for trending items like Champion sweatshirts or Dior saddle bags from the 90s.”

Another good place to shop: Etsy. Once a haven for crafters and DIY enthusiasts, the site is now home to many well-curated and well-stocked vintage boutiques, run by super knowledgeable and enthusiast vendors from around the world. Like eBay, you can either buy an item outright, or try to contact the seller to negotiate a better price (or package a couple pieces together for quick sale). “In the past, I’ve bought Victorian dresses from Etsy for Grimes videos and found it way cheaper than buying at the vintage store in Los Angeles,” says Turner, a commercial and celebrity stylist whose clients also include Julia Michaels, Kim Gordon and the DJ, Porter Robinson.


For designer items (think: vintage purses, jewelry or shoes), you’ll want to go with a trusted site, like What Goes Around Comes Around, which boasts one of the best selections of luxury vintage goods in the country. Along with its physical boutiques in New York, Beverly Hills, Miami and the Hamptons, the store’s website offers everything from one-of-a-kind custom gowns, to hard-to-find Rolex watches. What Goes Around Comes Around has become a favorite of celebrities like Kendall Jenner and Adam Levine, who flock to the store’s – and website’s – extensive selection of vintage tees.

These days, even popular e-tailers like ASOS are getting into the vintage game. The ASOS Marketplace features hundreds of curated vintage tees, denim, jackets and accessories for men and women, while Urban Outfitters has a special section online for vintage and one-of-a-kind pieces as well. Among the items we’ve spotted in the past: everything from a vintage Christian Dior tux, to 90s-era Polo shirts, tie-dye and camo prints. The e-commerce site, Farfetch, also carries a solid inventory of vintage goods, with designer names like Chanel, Fendi, Gucci and Louis Vuitton, just to name a few. And sneakerheads love StockX, which is a “bid/ask marketplace” where buyers and sellers transact on things like Retro Jordans, streetwear and more. A perk of shopping with these sites: many of them offer weekly promo codes and discounts that can be applied to their vintage pieces, in addition to new merch.

A last resort: “Instagram has been incredibly helpful in my search for my own wardrobe collection, which has come in handy for last-minute videos with a $2 budget,” Turner says.

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Plewes concurs. “I love Etsy and eBay for vintage graphic or band tees [but] Instagram is also a great resource, especially if you are looking for something that is more niche.”


While some people swear by vintage T-shirts, others prefer holding out for more unique or special pieces. Kacey Musgraves’ stylist, Erica Cloud, says she’s always on the hunt for a well-worn leather or suede jacket, vintage Levi’s, “beautiful old robes or kimonos, and my favorite, mechanic jumpsuits.”

Cloud, who says Musgraves “loves all types of vintage as much as I do,” recently found a vintage Willie Nelson tee for an appearance that Musgraves and Nelson had together. She also works with Busy Philipps for her show, Busy Tonight, and says the actress loves to wear vintage pieces mixed with current designers. “[Vintage pieces] add personality and uniqueness,” Cloud says, “but are still classic.”

What to look for: unless you’re a collector, you’ll want pieces that are still in wearable condition, with original stitching still in place, and without any modifications. If it’s a well-made piece, especially from a reputable designer, someone should be able to wear it for years. “The best way to identify vintage is the quality of the garment, cut and fabric content,” Plewes says. “The quality you get in a vintage piece is not available anymore unless you are paying a premium for designer pieces.”

Another thing to look for: any visible stains or permanent discolorations. That vintage Grateful Dead tee might be super soft and perfectly-distressed, but if there are pit stains or food stains on it, you’re going to have a hard time getting those out. (Not to mention a hard time unloading the shirt if you want to re-sell it in the future).

(Video) How To Shop Vintage ONLINE! Affordable Vintage Streetwear


Not all vintage is created equal – nor is all vintage actually real vintage. The best way to spot a real from a fake: “Look at the tag,” says Cloud. “Most vintage tees and other pieces are produced by companies that aren’t around any more.”

If it is designer vintage you’re after, there are several websites that will authenticate an item for you. Plewes recommends Entrupy, an app that lets you snap photos of items you like, and then uses AI algorithms to analyze the images to determine authenticity. Another way to validate: take it to a vintage dealer or store. “Any proper vintage designer vendor should be able to validate the authenticity of an item for you,” Plewes says.

Shellhammer says eBay has a ton of measures in place to ensure the authenticity of items for sale and to remove false listings. “In the rare case a buyer believes that he or she has purchased a counterfeit item, eBay has a Money Back Guarantee that applies to virtually all transactions and will cover them accordingly,” he says.

Another tip: “I recommend that shoppers look out for positive feedback on the seller’s account, check the photos and descriptions carefully,” Shellhammer says, “and don’t be afraid to reach out to the seller with questions.”

Read carefully too. You can find original artist and concert tees from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s on eBay, but you’ll often see those designs reproduced on new apparel, and then listed as “vintage inspired.” “Original tees from an artist’s specific tour or show are often mentioned in the seller’s listing and include the year, overall condition of the item, and a price that reflects its rare nature,” Shellhammer says.


At the end of the day, a vintage piece should not only appeal to your sense of style, but to your personality and way of life as well. Many people use vintage clothing to tell a story, or to transport themselves back to another time.

A Guide to Shopping for Vintage Clothing Online (2)

For this year’s Grammys, Cloud styled Musgraves in a vintage, red jumpsuit with ric rac detail from L.A.’s Palace Costume. “Kacey performed with Dolly Parton in the tribute for her, and we decided to go old-school Dolly,” Cloud says. The best part: “It fit her like a glove. No alterations necessary. The attention to detail and designs were just such better quality before fast fashion came around.”

“What I love about vintage, especially in my field is that there is always a story attached to it,” adds Plewes. “[The garment] has lived another life previously to my use. My job is storytelling and it is such an added bonus when the pieces I work with come with a past life.”



A Guide to Shopping for Vintage Clothing Online? ›

Unlike new clothing, vintage clothing often has flaws: stains, rips, missing buttons, stuck zippers. Before making a purchase, thoroughly inspect your item for any flaws. (If you're shopping online, look for items with plenty of high-quality images, and ask the seller directly if the item has any flaws.)

What to look for when shopping for vintage clothes? ›

Unlike new clothing, vintage clothing often has flaws: stains, rips, missing buttons, stuck zippers. Before making a purchase, thoroughly inspect your item for any flaws. (If you're shopping online, look for items with plenty of high-quality images, and ask the seller directly if the item has any flaws.)

What sites sell vintage clothes? ›

Some of the most popular dedicated marketplaces for vintage clothing are:
  • ThredUp.
  • Vinted.
  • Depop.
  • Poshmark.
Aug 8, 2022

What vintage clothing is most popular? ›

Top 10 Popular Vintage Clothing Items Everyone Must Consider
  • Vintage Jeans/Pants. One of the fundamental vintage clothing items for your outfit is a pair of jeans or pants. ...
  • Top Vintage T-Shirts. ...
  • Vintage Jackets. ...
  • Short-Sleeved Shirts. ...
  • Sweatshirts & Hoodies. ...
  • Vintage Dresses. ...
  • Blouses. ...
  • Dungarees.
May 14, 2022

Is Etsy good for vintage clothing? ›

That said, Etsy is a particularly good platform for selling vintage items, so if you're looking to offload older clothing, you might have more luck on Etsy than on other platforms. In terms of fees, Etsy is different from its competitors.

How do I find good vintage items? ›

Don't limit yourself by trying to find valuable items at one well-known vintage store. Small local antique shops, thrift stores, estate sales, garage sales, flea markets, antique shows, and even online consignment shops are all places where you can snag awesome antique and vintage finds!

What is the difference between vintage and antique clothing? ›

Vintage differs from antique because of its age. Antiques are usually at least 100 years old, while vintage items, though aged, are not as old as antiques. For example, an antique would include an old gramophone or handmade wooden dresser from the early 1900s.

Is vintage clothing worth money? ›

The value of vintage clothing and accessories depends on several factors like age, condition, quality of materials (composition) and how it was made, if it is by a luxury brand or not, the list goes on. Long story short, all vintage isn't valuable.

What is vintage vs thrift shopping? ›

Thrift stores sell all sorts of pre-owned goods on the cheap and cater to a lower income demographic. Vintage stores, on the other hand, sell a curated collection of decidedly valuable and high quality items to those discerning enough to seek out unique items with timeless style.

What is the best vintage items to sell online? ›

Old Electronics Are Always Sought-After on eBay

However, you can make no mistake with older electronics. Outdated televisions, radios, walkmans, record players, cameras, and things alike are very popular - and not only when it comes to the collectors.

How old must clothes be to be vintage? ›

A generally accepted industry standard is that items made between 20 and 100 years ago are considered "vintage" if they clearly reflect the styles and trends of the era they represent. These clothing items come with a sense of history attached to them, which is one of the reasons they are valued by vintage enthusiasts.

How do I find good vintage on Etsy? ›

Use search terms and filters.

Add that term into the search bar to narrow down your hunt for the perfect item. And for even more specific results, take advantage of Etsy's search filters. I like searching for a general term like 'vintage ring' and filtering my results by styles that I like. Think Art Deco or boho.”

Is Poshmark good for vintage clothing? ›

Poshmark is not a vintage platform. As such, it is not easy to sell vintage. So, sellers must be very strategic about price, inventory, and sourcing items that you can resell on this online store.

What is the hottest item on Etsy? ›

As such, the most popular items on the platform are handmade home décor, art prints, handmade bags and purses, custom and handmade wedding accessories, personalized gifts, craft supplies, pet gifts and accessories, vintage clothing, handmade jewelry, and other handmade accessories.

What are the best selling vintage items on eBay? ›

Popular vintage items include jewelry, clothes, accessories, household items, pop culture memorabilia, postcards, photos, vinyl records, cassette and VHS tapes, books, lamps, gadgets of 80s and 90s, toys.

Is vintage china worth anything? ›

Age - Age plays a big part in how valuable china is to collectors. For example, an antique piece of Rose Medallion china may be worth thousands if it is several hundred years old, while newer pieces of Noritake china are not worth as much.

How do you know if something is valuable old? ›

One of the easiest ways to identify a valuable antique is to look for items made from high-quality materials. For example, an antique made from solid gold or silver is likely to be worth more than an antique made from less expensive alloy metals such as bronze or brass.

Is 20 years old vintage in clothing? ›

Generally speaking if the item is no older than an antique but not less than 20 years, it falls under the term vintage.

Is 20 year old clothing considered vintage? ›

So, in the context of this blog date, a vintage item would be made between 1918 and 1978. Even though many vintage items are nostalgic, they are sought after for many reasons besides their age.

What is grade a vintage clothing? ›

Grade A - Items will be in good vintage condition. Some items may still show signs of minor wear and include washable marks or stains but items can be easily restored back to their original condition.

Can you negotiate at vintage clothing stores? ›

Reasonable negotiations are welcome

So don't be afraid to offer a price a little lower than what they are asking. The majority of vendors will work with you and get close on a price because they appreciate the item as much as you do and want to see it go to a good home.

Are vintage clothes bigger or smaller? ›

You'll probably wear a size about 4 sizes larger that normal. 1980s and 1990s dresses might be one to two sizes larger than your modern size and still fit like a glove. For this reason I don't like to estimate sizes. I can squeeze into different sized dresses at different stores at the mall.

Do vintage stores wash clothes before selling? ›

Most secondhand stores don't wash the clothes before selling them. Donations are typically washed before they're donated, but we still recommend giving them a good cleaning when you get home. Even if the clothes are washed before they hit the thrift store floor, people will have since touched them.

Are clothes in vintage store clean? ›

Most thrift stores do not clean items before they offer them for sale,” says fabric and laundry expert Mary Marlowe Leverette, so keep newly purchased vintage or secondhand pieces apart from your other clothing until they're washed to help prevent mold or odor transfer.

What is considered vintage collectible? ›

Heres a list of terms often used in collectible culture: Antique: a collectible item at least 100 years old. Vintage: A culturally significant item ranging from 20-99 years in age, worthy of being collected. Authentic, aged pieces in various conditions.

What is collectable at the moment? ›

Classic cars, fine art, coins, and stamps are popular collectible asset classes with a high potential ROI. But collectors can also profit from sports cards, celebrity memorabilia, watches, vintage whiskey bottles, old photographs, and even dinosaur bones.

What are best vintage items sell on Etsy? ›

Best Selling Items Vintage
  • Spinner Ring. (8.1k) Sale Price $23.31 $23.31. ...
  • Shaquille O'Neal Poster. (166) $27.09.
  • Swarovski Ship. (16.5k) ...
  • 9 inch Crochet Washcloths. (846)
  • Swedish Vintage Large 12" (226) ...
  • Feeling Kinda Idgaf-ish Today. (443) ...
  • Etsy Seller Success Guide. (2) ...
  • Wide Cream Bead Collar Bib Statement Necklace. (1.3k)

How to buy and sell vintage items? ›

Here are the top ways to sell antiques and collectibles online:
  1. eBay. Selling antiques on eBay has been one of the go-to ways for dealers to put their collections in front of thousands of people for over two decades. ...
  2. Etsy. ...
  3. Ruby Lane. ...
  4. Other Online Marketplaces. ...
  5. Specialty Sites. ...
  6. Online Dealers. ...
  7. Social Media. ...
  8. Build a Website.
Sep 19, 2022

What makes a vintage look? ›

Low contrast – Over time, prints lose contrast, structure, and details. Their edges become blurred and faded. To make a photo look vintage, you have to decrease the contrast while slightly increasing the brightness to create a haze effect. Noise – All old photos have a high level of noise due to bad cameras and lenses.

Is 90s considered vintage? ›

The '90s clothing and accessories are now officially deemed vintage because we are already two decades on.

Do vintage clothes last longer? ›

Vintage items are able to be reused as they are less processed and therefore longer-lasting compared to fast-fashion garments. Vintage items help prevent clothing from being thrown out in landfills.

What vintage brands are coming back? ›

' 'The brands experiencing a vintage comeback include Miss Sixty, Miss Me, Von Dutch, Plein Sud, Morgan, Blumarine, Fila, Juicy Couture, Guess, as well as designer fashion houses Jean Paul Gaultier and Roberto Cavalli.

How to dress 70s vintage? ›

Popular styles included bell bottom pants, frayed jeans, midi skirts, maxi dresses, tie-dye, peasant blouses, and ponchos. Some accessories that will help pull together your early '70s Hippie outfits are chokers, headbands, scarves, and jewelry made of wood, stones, feathers, and beads.

What is true vintage clothing? ›

“True Vintage” is an item of clothing that strongly reflects the styles and trends associated with that era it was made. Clothing brands are going out of their way to replicate the look and feel of old band t-shirts from the 90s.

Is something 50 years old vintage? ›

The majority of experts have agreed that items over 50 years old but less than 100 years old can be called vintage or collectable, but not antique.

Which is more expensive vintage or antique? ›

There is not one rule which fits all in terms of the value of antique items. Typically, antiques are more valuable than vintage items due to their age and historical significance. Antique items in great condition and proven provenance are highly valuable, especially if they are also rare.

What is a rare find on Etsy? ›

Etsy uses a badge that says “rare find” to indicate that there's only one of something, and that's designed to show scarcity, which then makes people feel like they should buy it.

Do vintage items sell well on Etsy? ›

For me, Etsy is the best online marketplace to sell quality vintage items. An important thing to remember is that with this higher end shopping experience on Etsy, potential buyers expect great photos and a personal touch. Again, don't let this deter you from starting.

Does Etsy sell authentic brands? ›

Etsy's Terms of Service state that sellers can't sell counterfeit or mass-market items, but many sellers ignore the rules. If a seller is caught selling fake merchandise or representing their items as handmade when they're not, the listings can be deactivated or their shops can be shut down.

What I wish I knew before selling on Poshmark? ›

Poshmark takes commission

Poshmark makes selling easier, but it comes at a cost. For sales under $20, they will take a $3.95 commission. For over that, they take 20% of the sale. So, if you're selling something for like $10, there's not much of a point for the amount of time it takes and the commission.

Should I wash the clothes I sell on Poshmark? ›

Make sure your item is laundered or dry cleaned and free of any odor of fragrance. Lint Free? Remove any lint or hairs that may have landed on your garment.

Do clothes sell better on Poshmark or Mercari? ›

Our verdict. Mercari once again comes out on top as their commission rates are VERY competitive and favorable for small businesses. However, this doesn't mean that Poshmark is ripping anyone off as they also offer good rates but Mercari edges them out here.

What is the number one thing people buy on Etsy? ›

Gifts are the most popular item on Etsy with over 29 million listings. That's more than twice the number of listings as the second most popular item, wall decor.

What sells for the most money on Etsy? ›

Craft & Supplies is the top-selling category on Etsy with most sales. You can opt for craft essentials, miniatures, tools for jewelry, beads, and much more. The best selling items on Etsy under this category are: Stickers.

Who is the biggest seller on Etsy? ›

Top 100 Etsy Sellers
2SeedGeeksHome & Living
3BaileyDesignedCoArt & Collectibles
95 more rows

What does to look for when choosing clothing in old age? ›

The most important thing to keep in mind when shopping for clothes as an elderly person is comfort. Look for items that are made of soft, natural fabrics like cotton and linen. Avoid anything tight or constricting. And make sure you can move easily in whatever you're wearing.

How can you tell if a clothing brand is vintage? ›

How to Tell if Something is True Vintage
  1. Look at the logo on the tag. If you don't recognize the brand name, it might be vintage. ...
  2. Flip the label over to see where the garment was made. ...
  3. Check the fabric composition tag. ...
  4. Look for unique construction details and/or handmade sew jobs. ...
  5. Check for a metal zipper.

What tags to look for when thrifting? ›

How To Identify Vintage Labels in Thrift Stores
  • Check the copyright year. ...
  • Look for union labels. ...
  • Look for “one size fits all” labels. ...
  • Pay attention to half sizes. ...
  • Search for style or lot numbers. ...
  • Look for a “Woolmark.” ...
  • Look for large price tags. ...
  • Take note of the material on tags.

How do you know if clothes are timeless? ›

Timeless fashion is clothing that is not influenced by current trends and will never go out of style. This means that timeless pieces are classic, elegant, and well-made. If you buy a timeless piece, you can wear it for years without looking outdated.

What day of the week is best to go thrifting? ›

By shopping on a weekday, you'll also see less competition from customers who follow a typical school or workweek schedule. If you're looking for the best time of year to thrift shop, try after a three-day holiday weekend. Many donors use the day off as an opportunity to clear out their closets.

What color tags mean goodwill? ›

Goodwill color codes its price tags for 50% discounts. The “Weekly Discount” color switches every seven days, so it's important that you pay attention while shopping. Blue, yellow, purple, green, red and orange are all common colors you may find on different items throughout the store.

How do you know what is valuable at thrift stores? ›

How to Find Rare and Valuable Items at Thrift Stores
  • Go at the Right Time of Day. ...
  • Specialize in a Few Items. ...
  • Search for the Best Brands of the Specialized Items. ...
  • Focus on Certain Areas First. ...
  • Examine the Items Thoroughly. ...
  • Purchase Items Even if You Are Unsure About the Price. ...
  • Know When is the Best Season to Go.

What is good vintage condition? ›

Excellent Vintage Condition means totally sound in condition and appearance, but any wear is a result of having been worn now and then, but the item has been well looked after and stored to still keep good looks. The construction of the garment is sound with no buttons missing or unavailable for matching.

How old is classified as vintage? ›

The majority of experts have agreed that items over 50 years old but less than 100 years old can be called vintage or collectable, but not antique.


1. Ep. 11 A Quick Guide To Vintage Clothing | Birdimus World
2. A Guide To Shopping Secondhand Online
(Hannah Elizabeth)
3. HOW TO THRIFT LIKE A PRO (*actually useful* thrifting tips)
4. best places to buy vintage clothing online
(Kali G)
5. Vintage Shopping Price Guide - What I Pay for Vintage
6. Vintage Wholesale Guide | How To Get A Better Haul and Bigger Profits!


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