At least once a week I mention in my column to check your local flea market or vintage stores to find items similar to what my Fashionista/o is wearing that day. As an avid vintage shopper, I rely on local flea markets and vintage stores to find some of my favorite pieces. To me, there's no sense in buying a $65 dollar flannel shirt when I can pick up three flannel shirts at the local flea market for $7 dollars each. And, like most of you, I get sick of department stores, mass retail chains like H&M and simply need an outlet where I can find exotic items that no one else will be wearing. So today I decided to share with you my guide on flea market shopping and basic pieces that any College Fashionista/o can find for updates to their wardrobe at these markets.
Step 1: Search, inspect, and repeat– No matter which flea market you choose to attend, you need to double check items before you close the transaction. While the price might seem extremely good for a worn in leather jacket, if there is a hole on the left sleeve or nasty stain then item becomes worthless. I always start off skimming the vendor's merchandise and grab all the items I am interested in, place them in a corner and inspect. Today's vintage find was a $10 military jacket that is just a bit oversized. With the wave of military jackets in style for men and women, a flea market is the perfect place to pick one up that isn't $200+ dollars.
Step 2: Is that a costume?– When I'm flea market hunting I always come across garments that are so outrageous I can't believe people use to wear them. But be cautious not to overlook items too much. Everything you purchase can (and should) be altered, and having a good tailor is key for any true Fashionista. I found a 20's inspired sequin dress for $30 dollars that can be shortened, taken in and perfect for a summer wedding. I also have purchased silk kimonos that come in handy in fall for college formals. Take your time and get a good laugh at some of the styles that present themselves.
Step 3: Jewelry, Art and Home Goods- In my style advice of the week post, I shared with you my addiction to vintage rings and how you can never have too many. Flea markets are the great place to pick up loads full of interesting jewelry that can jazz up a basic outfit. I will note that it's important to look at the quality of the jewelry you buy, whether it be a ring, necklace or bracelet. If it's too vintage take a pass, most likely it will break the second you wear it and end in frustration or tears. Flea markets are also the home to old art that can make the perfect interior decor to your apartment. I've found knick knacks and random pieces of art at flea markets that I know will travel with me from apartment to apartment. And finally home goods. Have you ever noticed mirrors can be so expensive? Especially ones with details around the edges. Flea markets are great places to pick up an antique mirror for a reasonable price, just be careful it makes it to your dorm room or apartment safely.
Step 4: Power in Numbers- Another key part of the flea market experience- bring a friend. Taking on a flea market by yourself can be overwhelming. Plus, some vendors may not have a mirror so a good friend will be just as honest as a reflection, the more hands and eyes scouring through the racks the better. On this trip, I took along my super stylish friend who also loves a good vintage find.
I could go on and on about my love for flea markets and the gems you can find there. It's all about patience, a good eye and the thrill of wearing something that has had a previous life and story hidden in its seams.