updated 11 Mar 2014, 01:36
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Wed, Mar 05, 2014
Urban, The Straits Times
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10 tips to shop vintage
by Leslie Kay Lim

What should I look out for when it comes to buying vintage clothing?

The style and construction of vintage clothing is a whole different ball game as compared to that of modern clothing. So we enlisted the help of Ms Loh Hsiao Ying, owner of vintage boutique Granny's Day Out. Founded in 2004, the shop sells clothing and jewellery from the 1930s to the 1980s.

Here are her top 10 tips when it comes to shopping vintage:

1. Fit: Ignore old size labels. Sizes were smaller in the past and a size 8 then is not a size 8 now. Always try on the garment. If a garment is too small, check for allowance in the seams. If it is too big, it may be possible to alter the sides and shoulders. The bust area, though, is notoriously difficult to reduce. Always use an experienced seamstress.

2. Condition: Your vintage item might be damaged after decades of wear. Inspect the garment for holes by holding it up against the light. Small holes can be sewn up. Check especially for sweat stains around the armpits because those are impossible to remove.

3. Style: Just because it is old does not mean it is awesome. If the cut is great but the prints dreadful or vice versa, move on. That said...

4. Be open: Be adventurous and open to varied styles. Clothing styles went through upheavals through the decades and it is fun to try them all, just to discover what looks good on you. Just because a piece is not "you" does not mean it will not suit you. Surprise yourself.

5. Ask for help: Ask the shop assistant for advice and recommendations. People who work in vintage shops are likely to be knowledgeable about the age, style and condition of the pieces and would be happy to point you in the right direction.

6. Don't be biased: Do not buy something just because it has a designer label. Beautiful vintage designer pieces will certainly be priced higher, but while they may be collectible, we recommend you buy something only because you love it, not for its label.

7. Do not go head-to-toe: Not unless you are headed to a vintage-themed party. Some vintage items may be very wearable but wear them all together and you might look like you have stepped out of a time machine. Avoid that, unless the look is what you are after. For day-to-day wearability, mix vintage with high-street or designer pieces to add an edge to your outfit.

8. Do not forget vintage accessories: Many women make a beeline for the clothing and neglect to look into the wonderful world of vintage accessories. Vintage jewellery, belts, scarves, bags and shoes can add panache to any outfit. Vintage jewellery, for instance, looks fabulous with denim. A vintage scarf looks great tied onto a bag or worn with a simple T-shirt.

9. Avoid overly damaged items: Granted, vintage items come with wear and tear. But what if you love something that is really damaged? If it takes too much work or costs too much to repair, do not try and save it. Sometimes, you just have to let things go.

10. Do not let it get away: You love it. You know it is one of a kind. But you have a romantic notion that if it is meant to be yours, it will be yours, and it will be there when you return. Over the years, there have been customers who put off their purchase decision and regretted it. If you love something, grab it before anyone else does.

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