When it comes to clothes, there tend to be a lot of things we want. We want clothes that look good, fit well, last a long time, let us express our taste and, often, don’t cost us the Earth. For many people, the clothes sold in the big brand stores just don’t tick all the boxes, and so two different forms of seeking out different styles have really thrived over the last few years – vintage, and second hand clothes shopping.

While these both generally mean buying clothes that have belonged to and been worn by people already, this is pretty much where the similarity ends, and fans of both ‘thrift shop’ style shopping and vintage fashion tend to be annoyed when the uninitiated confuse the two things. Here we take a look at where vintage and general second hand clothes shopping differ:


The main motivator for second hand shopping is that you can pick up something you like for far less money than you can buying clothes new. Much like buying a used car means you can afford a higher end vehicle than buying new, when you shop second hand you can often pick up designer items for a fraction of their original price because they have been used and are no longer a part of the designers’ current seasonal collections. By looking at sources like eBay, you’ll see that you will pay far less for a second hand accessory or item of clothing, while still being able to find something that fits with current trends – essentially, nobody has to know you got in second hand and didn’t spend big money.

With vintage clothing, the analogy is more like an antique piece of furniture than a second hand car. Vintage items are chosen because of their specific style and place in a particular fashion movement, and because they are rare (how many of the clothes you see in a mall today will be in a wearable state in 50 years or more?) they can cost a lot of money. Buy a Chanel bag from five years ago on eBay and it will cost much less than a brand new one, but buy one from fifty years back and it will cost a whole lot more.

Style Statements

As stated, the goal of second hand shopping, while you may be keen to find something a bit different from what every other person has on, is mainly to save money. This means you are likely to be looking for modern styles, similar to the things you would choose if you were to shop from current, brand new lines.

With vintage clothing, the choice to seek out and spend on pieces of clothing and accessories is usually part of a bigger style statement. Whether it is because you are part of a particular subculture where wearing clothes from a certain era is part of the scene, or you are simply drawn to the styles of the past and like creating cool looks by incorporating authentic pieces into your wardrobe, the intention is always to have something unusual, possibly unique.

Whether you love seeking out bargains or want to create eclectic or authentic styles people will really notice, shopping outside of the current lines in chain stores can offer some really cool opportunities!

Today’s guest author, Jenny Wadlow, is a freelance blogger. She is a fashion enthusiast and often gives out fashion tips in her articles. She is a huge fan of retro clothing and often suggests her readers to indulge in it.