Pros and Cons of Buying Vintage

If you’re anything like me, for example, not only do you enjoy learning about classic menswear but you enjoy wearing it as well and while it is possible to assemble a classically styled outfit using only more contemporary pieces, turning your attention to consignment stores, second-hand shops and so on to look for vintage pieces will also be a fantastic option. Still, buying vintage isn’t always a breeze.

Benefits Of Vintage Clothing

Vintage Clothing
Vintage Clothing

1. You May Find Garments That Are Not Commonly Produced Any More.

If you do find garments like these, they’ll allow you to stand out even from other well-dressed men; you can be a true dandy in head-to-toe vintage if that’s your thing, or you can mix vintage and contemporary pieces for a look that’s still classic and harmonious. Whatever the case may be, having a few vintage pieces in your wardrobe will allow you to be truly unique and inventive with your outfits.

2. Prices Are Often A Fraction Of What You Would Pay For Something New.

Our founder, Sven Raphael Schneider has had good luck purchasing things at European flea markets especially in the off seasons. For example, he once found an overcoat in the summer that no one else was looking at because it was out of season and got it for a real bargain.

Yours Truly in Firenze wearing a vintage brown flannel glencheck
Yours Truly in Firenze wearing a vintage brown flannel glencheck

3. Vintage Garments Can Generally Be Tailored Just As Easily As Something New.

This depends on the individual garment, of course, and whether it’s got excess fabric to let out or remove. As an example, you could find a sport coat for $ 15- 20 dollars, spend another $ 30 or so on tailoring and end up with a vintage piece that fits you like a glove for just a fraction of the price of what you would have paid for a new garment and that’s one that probably wouldn’t fit you as well right off the rack anyway.

4. Vintage Garments Are Often More Durable.

In a similar vein, older methods of clothing construction were often more durable both in terms of the raw materials used and in the detail of human construction. Conversely, a lot of modern clothing made for the fast fashion world that we live in is frankly designed to fall apart in the days when durability was prized over having the newest and latest garments of the season. You could get a great deal more wear out of your pieces.

Greenwich Vintage Co. Showroom
Greenwich Vintage Co. Showroom

5. You Will Be Supporting Your Local Economy.

Another plus by shopping at a consignment store or similar establishment, you’ll be supporting your local economy rather than some giant corporation; this isn’t to say that we’re suggesting you swear off Macy’s, of course, but it is nice to know that in some circumstances, you’re supporting small businesses in your area.

Vintage Ties
Vintage Ties

6. Buying Vintage Is A Greener Way To Shop.

In a similarly conscious frame of mind, buying vintage garments is a particularly green way to shop since you’re essentially recycling old garments and giving them a new lease on life. Furthermore, because you’re not buying a new garment and therefore contributing to that supply chain, you are theoretically reducing the amount of raw materials needed to produce more similar new garments.

7. You Might Not Have To Buy At All.

If you’ve got older relatives who are looking to downsize their wardrobes, family heirlooms like watches, for example, or friends who just know that you’re on the lookout for vintage items, you might be able to come up with some vintage finds at no cost to you.

Vintage Showroom in London
Vintage Showroom in London

8. Vintage Pieces Make For A Great Conversation Starter.

Finally in the positives category, buying and wearing vintage provides a great conversation starter for those who might be especially curious about what you’re wearing. For example, a comment on your vintage tie might get another gentleman the path of dressing stylishly and as we all know in the vintage menswear community, the more the merrier.

Drawbacks Of Vintage Clothing

So as you can see, there are a lot of potential positives when shopping for vintage menswear. With that said though, you should also be aware that there can be some potential downsides.

Vintage WWII Peacoat Tag
Vintage WWII Peacoat Tag

1.Limited Sizing Options.

Firstly, you might not always find the size you need especially if you’re a larger man in terms of both height and weight. The average man has just gotten bigger around the world in the last 100 years. As such, if you’re looking for vintage garments, you might not always find something in your size.

2. Tags & Labels On Vintage Garments Can Be Misleading.

Still the bottom line is trying something on for yourself to see just how well it fits is always going to be your best course of action.

Vintage Scarves
Vintage Scarves

3. Vintage Clothing May Have Some Form Of Damage.

Here’s a drawback you may already have thought of, some vintage clothing may have issues with odors, stains, or other damage, however, even if this is the case, there are workarounds available to you. Also, a good tailor can sometimes remedy structural damage to vintage garments depending on the severity of the damage in question.

4. Vintage Garments Are Irreplaceable.

Speaking of damage, though that is another potential downside, if you do damage a vintage piece irreparably or lose it for that matter, you might not be able to find another one quite like it. That old item you found might truly be one-of-a-kind at this point or at least rare enough to basically be such. Even so, in the case of a sartorial emergency, because they do happen to all of us from time to time, there are solutions there too.

5. Sellers Might Overcharge You.

Now regarding pricing, while many vintage shops and online retailers will often be offering things for great prices, there is the occasional chance that a seller might be trying to overcharge you after all. Once you become a more frequent and savvy vintage shopper though, you’ll develop a better sense of what truly makes for a good deal. As with most things, practice makes perfect and experience is the best teacher. Also along this line though, the market is getting more and more saturated by people who aren’t as knowledgeable about either what makes for a good deal or about garment quality in general. This is particularly true online, therefore, developing a sharp eye for materials, construction, sizing, and price will be the best way that you can get ahead. Don’t make foolish mistakes and buy something you won’t wear just because the salesperson talked a good game.

Flea Market in London Spitalsfields
Flea Market in London Spitalsfields

6. You Have To Make Time To Scout Out Vintage Stores.

While the online space is becoming more crowded, physical storefronts are becoming a bit more scarce. So if you’d like to go that route, you’ll probably have to put in a bit of additional time to scout out locations in your area. It may take more time than you might otherwise prefer to actually go out and track things down. As such, you really should enjoy the process of shopping vintage as it will be something of a treasure hunt.

7. Poor Fitting Room Conditions.

The lighting may be substandard and you might not find a three-way mirror so in other words, you might not get the best look at how a garment fits you from all angles. Some stores may not even have fitting rooms at all which can leave you in a particularly awkward spot if you’d really like to try something on, which of course, you should.

Vintage Tennis Sweater, Boater Hat & Blazers...
Vintage Tennis Sweater, Boater Hat & Blazers

8. Limited To Zero Returns Policy.

This may translate into a monetary loss if you end up not wearing or liking a garment barring additional financial outlay for tailoring.

Taking all of these factors into consideration then, the required effort may ultimately result in you falling prey to the so-called “This will do” phenomenon. Since you might only find one sizing option for a particular garment, for example, you may decide to lower your standards a little bit and buy it even though it might be too loose or too tight and even if a garment does fit you well, you may be willing to buy something that you don’t truly love or think you’ll wear often just because you are getting a deal. In short, just don’t settle for something that you’re probably not going to wear. There will always be other vintage finds out there that will suit you better.

CONCLUSION

So there’s our list of the pros and cons of buying vintage menswear in general. Though the question remains, do we recommend that you actually try it out? The short answer is absolutely yes! There is a bit of work involved and granted you may not hit a home run with a great vintage find right away but if you’re looking for a unique way to add a distinct flair to your wardrobe at an economical price, the benefits of buying vintage are clear.

Which of the arguments we laid out today did you find most compelling? If you haven’t tried it before, are you tempted to try shopping for vintage menswear now? Let us know in the comments section below.


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