Vintage Shopping Tips
Expert advice on how to score.
Save your money. There are some things you never really need to buy brand new.
It's smart to buy less, but buy better. The only downside to investing in quality pieces for your wardrobe is that it will cost you. But not as much as you might think. These days, stylish insiders and those on a budget can both benefit from checking out vintage stores, resale shops and eBay, or hitting up online consignment shops like Grailed. Trend followers can turn over the pieces they're no longer into and for those of us looking for more timeless staples, we can score epic deals on big name brands. Here are a few pieces that you're better off buying used.
A leather jacket can be one of the most expensive single pieces of clothing a guy will buy. And it's not the type of garment you want to skimp on. Scoring one that's been worn and well-kept is one surefire way to save some money and ensure your jacket looks cool and lived-in. Because even a bit worn in, quality leather rarely wears out.
Quality sunglasses from brands like Ray-Ban, Persol or Garrett Leigh don't come cheap. But you can often find deals on vintage styles or pairs being sold on consignment. Just make sure that they're in good shape—check the lenses for any superficial scratches and look for loose hinges at the temples. Bonus if they come with an original case (but that's not necessary).
A good pair of boots can last the better part of a decade. Longer still if they're Goodyear welted and can easily be resoled. Find a pair that fits your foot and your style and then take them to a cobbler to be refurbished. You're left with the best of both worlds—rugged boots that look like new but feel as though you've had them for years.
Kind of like a new car driven off the lot, most brand new watches tend to lose a lot of the value right away. But you can get vintage or luxury timepieces on consignment for a fraction of their original retail costs. Just be sure to do your homework, warns Hodinkee's Ben Clymer. "There are too many good fakes out there," he says. "Talk to someone you trust and don't be afraid to get a second opinion. If the dealer has nothing to hide, he'll happily let you show it around."
A pair of well-worn selvedge jeans will always be in style. But breaking in that raw denim requires the kind of commitment (and occasional pain) reserved for carving out six-pack abs or getting into an Ivy League school. You can save yourself a lot of time, trouble and money by buying some well-made jeans on their second life. Just make sure that the stress points like the crotch and pockets are in good shape. And if they're not, but the fit is right, have them repaired and reinforced.
Some things just look better with a little wear (and tear). A brand-spanking-new leather briefcase can have that "first day of school" vibe. And that's not cool. They're too perfectly unblemished and they're stiff. Better to find one that's been softened up with use and now sports a healthy patina. The same goes for suitcases. Hardwearing luggage, like Rimowa, is expensive because it can take a beating and still look good. Why buy a new one only to have the airline toss it around when a used one works just as well at half the cost?
A good cashmere sweater can be passed down from father to son for a reason. Those long, wool fibers tend to hold their shape and stay soft over the years, especially when properly cared for. That's what makes the luxurious knits so expensive. But when sold secondhand, you can get a lasting staple for less than half of what your standard store would charge.
The only downside to buying used clothes? That tell-tale vintage shop smell. But there's an easy fix. "All you have to do is mix one part vodka with two parts water in a spray bottle," says Janie Bryant, the costume designer for Mad Men. "It works every time—that's the power of vodka for you."