Monday, November 2, 2009

A Coat Lover's Guide to Saving Money and Looking Fabulous

{Click on images for sources}

In case you missed it, I thought I would re-post my guest blogger post for Yes and Yes...

Most of us have at least one irresistible obsession, and mine happens to be outerwear. Not the naughtiest addiction ever, but it's an addiction nonetheless! I just can't seem to say no to a good trench, blazer, peacoat, military jacket, or swing coat. I'm inexplicably attracted to faux fur, rhinestone buttons, bell sleeves, and funnel necks. Yes, I've got a problem, but luckily I've learned to indulge my habit without breaking the bank! Over the years, I've realized that the best way to keep my coat compulsion satisfied is to stick to buying vintage.

Why I Buy Vintage:
  • From classic 50's swing coats to avant-garde 80's cocoon coats, there is a breathtaking array of styles and silhouettes available out there.
  • In my experience, the price for a great vintage coat is, on average, at least 50 percent less than a newer version...and in today's economy, that is saying a lot!
  • Vintage outerwear is often made with better materials and craftsmanship: just imagine how expensive a brand new coat made with thick wool or velvet, silk lining, glass buttons, and little details like brocade trim or rhinestones would cost at a department store.
  • I'm helping the environment by not contributing to waste! This is an added bonus to buying vintage -- why buy something new when there are already so many options available?

Of course buying vintage can be daunting: Where do I start? What about condition? And what about...that musty smell? Here are some of my tried-and-true tips...

Tips on Buying Vintage Coats:

  1. Have a budget in mind and stick to it. I rarely spend over $60 for a coat, and for a jacket I keep it to around $15-$25. But the budget will depend on a variety of factors, like your area [vintage is more costly in bigger cities], as well as the material and age of the coat.
  2. Ask questions! If you're buying from a thrift store, you're on your own, but if you're buying from a vintage dealer, get as much information about the coat as you can to help you make your decision.
  3. Check for stains -- getting rid of stains on vintage fabric can be daunting and difficult. Unless the stain is on the lining where no one will notice, I usually shy away from the purchase.
  4. Check the lining. Lining can be replaced, but sometimes changing the lining can cost as much as the coat itself -- just weight the cost/repair ratio before deciding {and if you are a masterful sewer, then you are good to go!}.
  5. Check the smell -- because of the thicker fabric, vintage coats seem to hold a musty smell. This can often be removed with a simple dry-cleaning. Ask your dry cleaner for their advice if you have concerns about the fabric holding up. Dryel sheets are also a good, inexpensive way to get musty smells out of fabrics.
  6. Check the details, like buttons, buckles, etc. Most things can be fixed or replaced, but you always want to be sure you are aware of the work you will need to put into it before buying.

    {The Glamourai, in her altered vintage coat}

Now, if you're considering joining me in the race to become the Imelda Marcos of vintage coats, you have some catching up to do. Here are some excellent places to start...

Places to Start Your Own Vintage Outerwear Addiction:

:: Thrift stores! Some of my best vintage coat finds were at Goodwill and Salvation Army.
:: Vintage store and boutiques. While these will be a bit pricier, the quality is typically more consistent and the items will usually be cleaned and mended.
:: Estate sales -- if you're into waking up early and beating the crowds.
:: Ebay is the place to go for great deals without leaving the comfort of your sofa. Search by era, material, style, etc.
:: Etsy has a gorgeous selection...and superfriendly sellers. Just for a taste, check out Good Grace, Dear Golden, Cassie's Attic, Thrush, and Bad Girl Vintage.

Good luck and happy shopping!


NoeoN said...

Thanks Tara!
This post has helped me a lot because I thought I was the only one who suffers the "coat compulsion disease” My friends tell me that I do not need more than 30 coats, but each one has his right day and occasion, and all they are so gorgeous!!
Also, in Madrid there are not too much ways to get any vintage articles, so I use to navigate in eBay as a shipwrecked – and sometimes I found a treasure


{Tara} said...

Neon -- I'm happy to hear you found it useful!!

{this is glamorous} said...

the glamourai's coat is fantastic!