how to thrift vintage like a vintage trader

How do you thrift for vintage like a vintage boss? Simple. Roll up your sleeves and get stuck in…

I’ve been buying, selling and thrifting retro clothes for a long time for my vintage business Super Queenie Retro. ( Now Gold Thrift Vintage) – Scouring the rails at lightning speed has become a second nature.  Spotting a vintage gem that’s lurking in a tucked away charity shop or getting knee deep in piles of fabric at dusty car boot sales, only to resurface with armfuls of missed vintage bounty.

Yes, thrifting for vintage is not a glamorous job. But hey, if you’re after fabulous vintage, retro or second hand amazingness then follow my quick tips to getting the cream of the crop.

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How to Thrift for Vintage Like a Vintage Boss

What to look for?

First of all,  you need to brush up on how you spot vintage quickly when thrifting, by looking out for unusual prints, cuts and designs.

If you look along a rail it’s easy to spot the fabrics first, the cotton pieces, silk, or wool over mass produced clothing. Take a closer look at the garment  labels and the hardware. (For instance if it has a silver metal zip instead of a coloured metal, plastic or hidden zip.)

Other signs of a quality or vintage piece is by looking at the way it has been made. Let’s take the lining fabric for example. – Does it have a luxurious feeling and vibrant colours?  how about the seams?  Bias binding, french seams or have they just been overlocked?  Perhaps there’s a row of top stitching on the outside of the seam? If yes to any of these chances are its an older garment (or high end.)

Clothing labels are a quick and easy way to date a piece too. These little bits of fabric give you a heads up to which decade it dates from. – A woven label is an older or more of a quality item than a printed label. The colour, logo and type font can help you date too. Clothing from the 1950’s or before would often put an address of the dress shop in the label too.

How to Thrift for Vintage Like a Vintage Boss

Where to Thrift for Vintage?


My top place to go thrifting for vintage has to be the Car Boots. Get your Boot on.

Boot sales are my all time favourite past time! These are awesome places to go and get random bits of vintage, or quirky bits and bobs. Be warned though if you want to thrift the good stuff you need to be prepared to set your alarm clock and rise and shine. (like 7am or before.)

When you’re there head to the house clearance vans and be ready to rummage and haggle.  Chat to the stall holders and find out what stuff they have coming up, whether they have more clothing another week? Test out a few different car boots in your area as some are defiantly better than others.


I’ll tell you a secret!  True story.  I stumbled upon the best vintage item I have ever found a few months ago. Something that I’ve been wanting to find by thrifting since I started collecting and selling vintage. It was *Drum roll please* An original Ozzie Clark  jacket. Yup. And I’ll tell you another secret, it was only five pounds (vintage retail value appox £300-400.)

Ossie Clark vintage jacket thrifted

Where did I find this amazing piece? At a car boot sale! Okay it was at an antique and vintage car boot sale which funnily enough I wanted to trade at myself, but couldn’t, and that’s another story. Anyway, I went along and was disappointed by what I found, hardly any vintage clothing, and when I did find some it was too expensive for traders.  Then just as I was giving up and heading back to the car, I spotted a little rail of clothing, mainly men’s shirts, which was not particularly appealing to rummage though, however rummage though I did. It was the label I saw instantly, and I almost didn’t bother asking for the price expecting it to be very high indeed.  I did ask, as calmly and unbothered about this amazing item as my face could, with out giving the game away. £5. Sold! Rushing to get my money out. The lady selling it to me, knew it was a 70’s blouse but I’m guessing had not of heard of Ossie Clark!

So to get to my point – even at an Antiques Market and Vintage Fairs, if you see something you like, don’t be put off by no price labels. You never know.

Over the past few years, I’ve come across vintage Chanel at an auction for £10. 50p Dolcie and Gabbana, £2.20 Burberry and an Eve Saint Laurent dress for £7.

Ossie Clark jacket - how to thrift amazing vintage finds

Ossie Clark Jacket - How to thrift vintage CHARITY SHOPS

Find out where in your area has charity shops pop in often or go on a charity shop day out. Look up where they are online and make a day trip of it. I find going around mid morning, weekdays are the best time to have a rummage.


Don’t be put off asking when there are no prices on things. Always ask for the best price as you never know (like me and my Ozzie Clark find). If your at a flea market, boot sale, vintage fair there is always room for a little haggling too.


Enjoy a lie in on a Sunday in the winter, and hit up the Jumble Sales instead of the Car Boots. Jumbles are usually held on Saturdays and will be listed in local papers or posters on notice boards.

You might be thinking that Jumble Sales are just a bunch of sweet old ladies making jam and tea. Nope.  Jumble Sales are savage.

Start queuing at least 30 mins before it officially starts, and take a bag or two for putting clothes in as you rummage through.  – Get speedy as it’s totally manic where good manners for some people seem to go out of the window. Get a good spot and if you see something grab it quick!


Searching on Ebay can sometimes be thrifty if you know what you want.

When I’m looking for something particular I try to set a budget for £2 – £3 and under first. and narrow it down to something like 60s mini dress or leather saddle bag.


This is a new addition category as there are lots vintage traders and non traders selling stuff on Facebook. Searching in the groups section is a good place to start.

I hope these tips help you on your vintage quest and  to get your vintage thrift on.

Basically you need to have your eyes open everywhere you go which means that you just never know what vintage treasures you could stumble across and surely that’s half the fun! – Pay attention and you’ll defiantly bag yourself some great thrifty finds.