…when you are searching for pristine vintage clothes or household textiles.
If you are interested in building up a collection of vintage clothes, but you’ve outgrown wearing used clothes (Boy, have I been there: that 1960s lambswool Saks Fifth Avenue “Young Generation” sweater dress I found at goodwill for five dollars sure was cute to wear as a college kid, but once you are out of school and working full-time, you can only wear so many vintage rhinestone brooches at one time to cover a group of moth holes before your coworkers catch on! Trust me on this one!)
So if you absolutely love adding vintage pieces to your wardrobe, but “Shabby Chic” has lost its charming allure? You, my friend are ready to make the jump from USED to VINTAGE and there are some helpful time saving search terms that you should know:
New Old Stock (often abbreviated NOS)
Old Store Inventory
Three different terms, but they all mean the same thing: Unsold store stock.
Add these terms to a google search or a vintage clothing search on eBay and you will turn up amazing, and completely unworn clothing—from as early as the 1920s and very often with the original store tags! Ebay has a great info page about New Old Stock with some helpful pointers.
There are some important things to keep in mind:
SIZE: When you have the chance to try things on in a vintage store, the size tag is a general guideline. I usually ignore size tags, eyeball the garment for fit while I’m picking out things to try on and make my final decisions in the dressing room. Online, you’ll want to go by the seller’s MEASUREMENTS of the garment, NOT the number size. A size 8 in 2016 will not fit in a size 8 from the 1940s.
MATERIAL: My favorite example to illustrate this tip is a hip household textile that you can find online, very often still in the original packaging: Fiberglass curtains were an invention of the 1950s and early 1960s. They were available in bright, space-aged patterns and were advertised as an easy care option for the modern home. You can find dozens of them on Ebay and Etsy right now. They are mid-century modern to a T. They are amazingly cute!! What could possibly go wrong here?
Well, when you handled these to hang them up and especially if you washed these in the household washing machine, the curtains actually SHED FIBERGLASS into your hands, face, lungs, washing machine, dryer– spreading it to everything else you washed and getting splinters (of FIBERGLASS) all over your house when you moved the curtain from the washer to the dryer. Fiberglass curtains were quickly taken off of the market when the severity of this problem was discovered. And that’s why so many pristine examples turn up on the vintage market.
This is one of the more extreme examples, and you won’t run into a similar problem with clothing. But there are a few other things to consider:
Allergies: you may run into sensitivities to dyes used in clothing or jewelry from the 1920s-1950s. If you have sensitive skin, you might want to wear an extra layer underneath. Mixed metals in early costume jewelry can also be a problem if you are allergic to Nickel.
Running Dyes: Some dyes may transfer their colors to other clothing: that bright red blouse from the 1930s might rub color all over the white pants you are wearing it with.
THERE’S A SOLUTION TO THIS: You can always take an extra step with your first wash and soak the garment in a water/vinegar mix to help set a running dye.
Fragile fabrics: Consider the material before you buy. A silk dress from the 1920s may LOOK beautiful, but older silk can be problematic and even unworn silk clothes can begin to “shatter” or fall apart.
I hand wash and line dry all of my vintage clothes. Old elastic can stretch, bakelite buttons can chip or break if they are knocked around a lot in a spin cycle. Colors will also stay brighter longer with gentle washing. If you have vintage suits, take them to a trusted dry cleaner (please oh please not a 1.99 a piece dry cleaning chain) Takes a few extra minutes, but you worked hard to find these gorgeous clothes, and they’ve waited for 50, 60 or maybe even 70 years to find their way to your closet! So shouldn’t you take a little extra time to keep them pretty?
Shopping for dead Stock clothes and accessories can be so much fun, and they can make your wardrobe unique and authentically classic. If you keep a few guidelines in mind, you’ll be happy with your purchases for years to come.