How to find great vintage items
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How to find great vintage items

Vintage shopping – is there really a knack to it? When you’re a newcomer to the trend it can seem like a difficult task to know where to begin. You’ll
obviously want to get good at digging out the best stuff quickly, so with just a little preparation you’ll soon be snaffling vintage bargains left,
right and centre.

Starting simple

Due to the rise in popular vintage fashion recently, you’re more than likely to find a vintage clothes shop in bigger city centres. Historic cities such
as York are a pretty good place to start – you’ll find both vintage clothes and furniture shops here, with a great selection to peruse. You can find
out more about vintage shops near you by checking out Hey Vintage – a great site for finding
your nearest store.

The Telegraph also has a handy article on the best
vintage shops in the UK. While most are in London, there are plenty to start your vintage shopping hobby in the rest of the UK too.

Learn how to spot vintage

A seasoned vintage-shopper will be able to tell the difference between an actual vintage piece, and a vintage-style item. Paulie Antiques explains that to be technically classed as a vintage piece, the item must be at least 20 years old. So if you notice modern materials on the item you’re looking
at, it’s probably more vintage-style, than classic vintage.

From time to time, you might notice vintage fairs and markets being held in your local community centre, or in a central location in your town. These are
great places to find a few bargains, but you have to remember to shop savvy.

The different labels attributed to different products should give some indication into how old it is. For example, for an item to antique, it should be
at least 100 years old.

For the seasoned pros

Once you’ve got the hang of spotting vintage bargains, the best place to challenge your vintage sensors is in charity shops. Here you should expect to
have a good scout around before finding anything, and be prepared to leave empty handed if nothing comes up. On the plus side, you might find that
some charity shops have a separate section of vintage items.

A real vintage challenge

Once you’ve gotten the hang of telling what’s new from what’s classic, you can head out to local car boot and jumble sales to have a good dig around. You’re
perhaps more likely to pick up furniture and other items for your home here than at a vintage clothes fair. It’s important to be able to properly inspect
the item you’re thinking of buying before you make your purchase. You don’t want to get it home and realise it’s broken, ripped, or beyond repair!
Sites such as Car Boot Junction make finding your next one simple.

How to spot real vintage

A key skill for any budding vintage shopper, how do you spot when something’s really vintage?


Vintage furniture should be over 30 years old, and should show the characteristics of the era it’s from. For example, 70s furniture might feature wicker,
whereas 50s furniture might resemble American diner-style characteristics.


Vintage clothing should be old, not new. If you spot any new materials, zips or accessories, then chances are it’s not vintage.


A classic car should have several tell-tale signs that it’s vintage. Being vintage means it should have some age to it, and this is indicated by not having
mod-cons such as electric windows, power steering or remote central locking.


A vintage camera is usually over 25 years old, and definitely not digital, so if it has a screen rather than film, it’s not vintage.


Vintage jewellery provides that rare one-of-a-kind look, but for it to truly be vintage, it must be at least 20 years old.