The Fashionista is in – Vintage, consignment, and thrift, oh my!

The ins & outs of shopping secondhand

I was recently wearing my vintage fur coat, which is one of those pieces of clothing that can only be described, in vapid Tyra-speak, as âÄúfierce!âÄù But what I didnâÄôt notice about it was that a huge chunk of said coat had ripped from its lining! So, in hoping this doesnâÄôt happen to you, IâÄôve compiled a few vintage shopping tips. I love to vintage shop. I love flea markets, antique stores, and thrift stores too. The one-of-a-kind factor is enticing, especially when every girl on the street seems to have that Target sundress. But vintage/thrift/secondhand/consignment shopping is tricky business. And so, without further ado, here are the basic tips to shopping secondhand. 1. Look at the garment closely. If itâÄôs torn somewhere, it canâÄôt be repaired by you or a tailor, so leave it behind. Seams are easy to fix, and things can be hemmed in a snap, but there are places, and fabrics, that are difficult to repair. Check the armpits, zippers, and look for stains that canâÄôt be removed. 2. Lots of pilling on that sweater? Probably not worth buying. 3. DonâÄôt buy something just because itâÄôs designer. ViaâÄôs Vintage had an amazing âÄô80s rose-print Yves St. Laurent jacket but it just didnâÄôt suit me. I had to leave it behind. 4. Try things on! If youâÄôre shopping for vintage dresses, the sizes run a little differently than they do now. A size six nowadays was definitely not a six in 1955. 5. DonâÄôt dress head-to-toe in vintage clothing. ItâÄôs 2009, not 1972. Polyester can work, but only in small doses. 6. Find something you love and seek to collect it. For me, itâÄôs Vera silk scarves ($8 at Everyday People) and the hope that one day IâÄôll find a real Chanel or Louis Vuitton bag for $50. The best of the best vintage/secondhand/consignment/antique shops Tatters – Right on Lyndale & Lake, itâÄôs painted green so itâÄôs hard to miss. Their Levi collection is amazing, and once in awhile theyâÄôve got one of those ridiculously perfect worn-in Rolling Stones t-shirts. TheyâÄôre sort of spendy, but honestly, I wear one of my $30 1987 Harley t-shirts at least once a week. ViaâÄôs Vintage, Uptown – This is where you should go if you need a vintage piece in pristine condition. ViaâÄôs is so perfectly edited that everything offered is flawless. ItâÄôs pricier than most, but theyâÄôve even got pieces from the Victorian era, which are probably more fun admired than worn. Lots of âÄô50s prom dresses, pillbox hats, and rhinestone jewelry. The last time I stopped in, I picked up a âÄô60s sequined cardigan for $35. GH2, Northeast – The baby sister of super-spendy and sort of staid Grethen House, GH2 always has at least ten items on its racks that I need to own. Louboutins for $150 occur once in awhile, as do Alexander Wang sweaters and Chanel jackets. (Those are still really expensive, FYI. A Chanel jacket demands the dollars.) My SisterâÄôs Closet, Grand Avenue, St. Paul – ItâÄôs a house full of secondhand clothing! A house! A friend of mine found Ferragamo Varina flats there, and I know theyâÄôve got some designer denim hidden in their shelves. And youâÄôre close to Grand Avenue, so you can stop at Wild Onion for bellinis afterwards, or maybe Café Latte for flourless chocolate cake. (Things I love almost as much as shopping: cocktails and cake.) Hunt & Gather, Fiftieth & Xerxes – My favorite antique/junk shop ever. It needs no further explanation. I could spend a good portion of my life in Hunt & Gather, because its rooms full of vintage dresses, knick knacks, old photographs, gorgeous, if a bit shabby, armchairs and childrenâÄôs toys never seem to end. Honorable mentions: Refind Vintage (St. Paul), Lula (Selby Ave., St. Paul), Everyday People (Dinkytown/Uptown), Fashion Avenue (50th & France), Optiz Outlet (St. Louis Park), eBay,, estate sales