Whatever your motivations are for buying second-hand Etsy clothes, whether it’s a desire to reduce your carbon footprint through fabric waste or just a love for vintage designs, this guide has everything you need to know.
I’ve had great success buying vintage Etsy clothing! As long as you follow these tips, you’ll have success too. Oh, and there are a few recommendations for some UK-based Etsy stores at the end as well.
5 Tips for Buying Second-Hand Clothes
Consider this your checklist when you’re shopping for old Etsy clothing.
Know Your Measurements
I don’t mean your dress size; I mean your measurements. With vintage clothing, size labels don’t match up. What was a size small in 1985 won’t be a size small any more. So, you should know your measurements for your waist, hips, bust, leg, and overall height.
I recommend you write these down in both inches and centimetres. It will save a lot of time.
Measure Out the Clothes
Knowing your size is one thing, but just “visualising” the size of the clothes is another. You’re better off having a measuring tape with you while you shop. A lot of the Etsy sellers just measure the clothes flat, from one side to the other. So, you need to double that figure to work out what size it is all the way around.
With a measuring tape, you can wrap it around you and see how the clothes will fit and hang off your body.
Check the Returns Policy
Always worth checking! Most Etsy users have the standard Etsy returns policy, which is fine. You’ll need to pay for the returns, but as long as the clothing is in the same condition as when it was sent, you won’t have any trouble. But it’s worth checking. You don’t want to get caught out with a no returns policy.
Check the Original Clothes Maker
This applies mostly to vintage clothes with high price tags. If you’re going to spend hundreds of pounds on a dress that was limited edition in the 70s, you’d best make sure it really was limited edition. Check out the original clothes manufacturer.
If you want to only buy organic fabrics, or faux fur, checking with the original clothes maker will be worthwhile too. If you’re unsure who made the clothing, contact the Etsy seller for an answer.
Check for Wear and Damage
Sounds obvious, but just make sure you read the full seller’s description and check all the images before you buy. There might be some small damage, like a missing button or permanent stain on the sleeve.
Once you’ve done that and everything looks okay, you’re good to buy!
Vintage vs Handmade Clothing on Etsy
When you’re shopping for clothes on Etsy, I recommend you narrow your search by first selecting UK-only shops. You’ll be supporting local sellers, the shipping will be faster, and most of the time the shipping is free too.
Then you can choose between vintage clothes and handmade clothes. I’ll start with the problems with each – just to get them over with.
Vintage Etsy Clothes
- Limited styles,
- Usually show signs of tear,
- Had previous owners.
But you do end up with amazing fashion. If you were going for a hipster look, vintage clothing is where you should start.
I have purchased several vintage items from Etsy sellers and I always get compliments when I wear them.
Handmade Etsy Clothes
- Way more expensive than the high-street,
- Less choice available,
- Need to wait a while if they’re custom made.
One of the lovely things about buying homemade clothing from Etsy (besides supporting talented clothes makers) is that they’re usually adjustable. If you are between dress sizes or need a seller to adjust a hem for your height, they’re usually good for that. You’ll need to pay for it, of course!
Handcrafted clothes on Etsy cost more, but they’re so worth it. You’ll get a one-of-a-kind piece.
My Favourite 3 British Vintage Clothes Etsy Shops
These three UK Etsy stores have some great vintage clothes to browse.
Image credit: @micro.mall
If 90s Y2k and platform shoes/booties are your thing, you’ll love MICROMALL. A lot of vintage clothing online is ditsy, with floral flower prints and ugly patterns from decades gone by. MICROMALL aren’t like that. I really love the vibes.
Age of Vintage
Image credit: Age of Vintage UK
Based in Cambridge, Age of Vintage is a cool place to shop. This store separates the floral dresses by decade, so you can quickly find the vintage style you like. Dresses, tops and knitwear for women are in abundance here – all you need to do is pair them with shoes.
Forgotten Tales Vintage
Image credit: @forgottentalesvintage
Fashion from the 1940s to the 1980s in London was fantastic! Forgotten Tales Vintage has collected it all and put it on sale through Etsy. Better yet, this Etsy store repairs any damage to the vintage clothes items before they are sold, so that’s one thing to tick off your vintage clothing shopping list.
If you want to venture towards shops outside of the UK, I recommend The Bearded Bee for some gorgeous second-hand American flannel, and Something Must Be Here for vintage European fashion and homeware. I have shopped at both stores, so I can personally vouch for them!