Bryna Howes, owner of Rolling Stone Vintage Clothing, started collecting vintage clothes when she was in her teens.
After travelling for four years, she returned to her home country of Australia with the drive to do something new with her life.
She started Rolling Stone Vintage Clothing in 2008 and in early 2009, she moved to America, where she relaunched the store.
Here is her advice on how to find the best vintage gems.
❤ The sharpest vintage bargain hunters know that to find a vintage gem, you have to be patient. Sometimes you will have to ransack every bargain bin in the store before you find that perfect item. Be calm and patient and it will pay off. I once had to untangle a massive pile of scarves before I found that perfect vintage silk scarf that I just knew I had to have.
❤ Whenever possible, you need to try your finds on, even if that means trying them on over your outfit. Vintage sizes tend to run a lot smaller than modern sizes, so a vintage item tagged “Small” may actually be a lot smaller than you think. This is a good thing! It means when you find that incredible military coat and the tag says “Extra Large”, that maybe the coat is not so large after all! Wear leggings and a tank top to make it easier to try clothes on when there are no changing rooms.
❤ Again, when it comes to size, it pays to know your measurements. That way, if you absolutely cannot try the item on, you can give it a quick detail by using a tape measure. The important measurements to know are your shoulders, bust, hips and waist. Remember to always add a little room for yourself!
❤ If you find something that has a deep yellow stain or a funky smell, chances are, you won’t get rid of it. Unless you already have a magic recipe for stain removal that you know you can trust, avoid the piece. There is a silver lining though.. if the stain is on the hem or the sleeve, you may be able to do some alterations! Freshen the piece up by making it shorter or sleeveless and you’ve got a hip piece of modern vintage that is stain-free!
❤ Check the item for wear and tear. Check the lining to see if there are any rips and especially under the armpits. Any tears that are not along the seams will be hard to mend. Keep an eye out for small moth holes too. These are especially hard to see on florals and prints.
❤ Make sure all the buttons are still in place. Vintage buttons are near impossible to replace!
❤ Try to see all your vintage finds with an “open eye”. This means, if you see that saggy, baggy vintage dress that looks like it should be on a grandma, but it has an incredible floral print, think about ways you might be able to alter it, shorten it, tuck it in, belt it, etc.
❤ Whether you’re shopping in a bricks-and-mortar vintage store, or you are trawling the web for great vintage clothes online, ask questions. Chances are that anyone who has put the time, money and effort into building a vintage clothing store, is more than obsessed with vintage clothing. If they don’t have the answers to your questions, they will know where to find them.
❤ Want to start collecting? Some amazing vintage finds to be on the lookout for: anything Chanel, Hermés or Pucci scarves, glomesh bags, YSL & Versace, Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dresses, etc.
❤ Shopping for vintage shoes can be just as tricky as shopping for vintage clothing. When it comes to size, vintage shoe sizes are usually fairly similar to modern sizes. For example, a lady with a modern shoe size of 8.5 could be a vintage size 8 or a vintage size 9. However, vintage shoes tend to be a lot narrower than modern shoes.
❤ The most important thing to look for when shopping for vintage shoes is condition. Even if a shoe looks to be in perfect condition, it may have been made of components like glue, which can lose its adhesiveness with age. The good news is that most experienced cobblers will be able to come up with a fix, if your vintage shoes start to fall apart.
❤ Still not sure? Avoid wear and tear such as cracked or brittle leather, shoes that have already been obviously repaired, any fabric (such as vinyl) that is peeling, and any wear to the insoles/inners of the shoe.
❤ Now that you have acquired some beautiful vintage items, it is important to store them properly. Always use unscented, padded hangers when you are hanging vintage clothing. Anything that is particularly heavy, such as beaded flapper dresses, should be stored flat to avoid tearing. When storing vintage clothing in drawers, line them with washed cotton. Finally, avoid exposing your vintage clothing to light, animal hair and smoke.
Bryna is giving my readers a little 5% discount on all of her shop till the end of the month, so if you find something you like there, enter the code “robot” at checkout. She also offers free shipping in the US, as I know many of you are in America.