Shopping for vintage clothing has come a long way from time-consuming and potentially fruitless searches through rummage sale piles and jam-packed thrift store racks.
Those are still options, and some vintage fans enjoy the hunt as much as what they might find. But others who would rather spend their time looking in places with much more potential for what they want have many possibilities these days as vintage items have become more desirable. That’s thanks to greater appreciation for thoughtfully designed clothing and accessories made to last and more demand for sustainable clothing that won’t add to landfills, won’t impact the environment and won’t exploit those who make it.
All are good reasons to buy vintage clothing and accessories. They’re unique, and nostalgia is a big factor too. And though vintage fashion can be quite pricey, there are outstanding deals to be found, especially if you know where to look and are willing to repair or repurpose items that need attention and are priced lower to reflect that.
Those who want highly curated vintage stores featuring highly collectible pieces, and are willing to pay higher prices for that and more, can travel to Portland and Seattle if they choose. But Yakima also offers vintage clothing shopping options worth visiting. Here are some places and some tips for finding what you want.
First, know that while there are general parameters for what is commonly referred to as vintage clothing, vintage can also be in the eye of the beholder. A Google search of “vintage fashion” can yield an overwhelming array of websites, blogs, collections, articles and images.
Vintage fashion differs from what is collectively known as “antique fashion,” which refers to clothing and accessories that can be documented as more than 100 years old. If pieces are older but can’t be documented as more than 100 years old, according to The VOU magazine, they are considered to be vintage.
Vintage includes clothing and accessories made from at least 20 to 99 years ago. That’s according to famed Vogue Editor in Chief Anna Wintour, also mentioned in the same online article by The VOU. Vintage pieces should feature or exemplify design trends specific to the decades in which they were made. Examples are bell bottoms and slinky wrap dresses for the 1970s, intricately beaded gowns from the 1960s, voluminous circle skirts from the 1950s, bias-cut dresses from the 1930s and boxy sheaths from the 1920s.
The word “retro” may also come up. Retro is often used to describe clothing and accessories that are less than 20 years old but are inspired by older designs.
A deep resource for beginners and experts alike is the website of the Vintage Fashion Guild, an organization whose members include online and brick-and-mortar storefront sellers, designers and costumers and fashion journalists, curators and historians.
Though private collectors can’t join, they can visit the website and discuss vintage fashion on a public forum along with researching specific topics such as identification guides for vintage fashion labels, fabrics, lingerie, hats and more, along with tips for care and cleaning of vintage items and ways to date them.
The website also includes links to Vintage Fashion Guild member sellers on Etsy, eBay, Amazon and Zazzle. They’re some of the biggest online marketplaces for vintage clothing and accessories, and there are many other online vintage sellers, either small businesses or individuals.
Online shopping for vintage offers nearly unlimited options and a wide range of prices. So can shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. You just need to know where to find what you’re looking for.
Good to know and where to go
It’s important to remember that vintage sizes aren’t the same as sizes of modern clothing. For example, depending on the design decade, a vintage size 12 would be closer to a contemporary size 6 or even smaller. The design of an outfit can also affect how it fits.
So it’s good to try on vintage clothing if possible. That’s not always an option — for example at estate sales, which can be a good place to find well-priced vintage treasures — so shoppers should also carry a measuring tape to check the waist, hips and other measurements.
And don’t hesitate to buy if you see something you like, because well-priced vintage treasures don’t last long.
Yakima and Union Gap are home to a variety of stores that sell vintage clothing and accessories. Here’s a little information about several.
• Eclectricities, 5110 Tieton Drive, Suite 261, Yakima; 509-728-0248.
This shop in Glenwood Square is devoted entirely to quality vintage clothing and accessories. Its offerings include higher-end costume jewelry, shoes and purses along with women’s separates, day and evening dresses and lingerie. Eclectricities has some menswear as well, along with outerwear for men and women.
• Details, 5110 Tieton Drive, Suite 240, Yakima; 509-594-2597.
Along with handmade multi-medium pieces of art and re-purposed lighting, mirrors and wall hangings, this shop near Eclectricities offers a small selection of vintage clothing. A recent visit yielded some 1970s coats, a Dubarry gown and a handmade brocade dress.
• Flippers Antiques & Estate Sales, 591 W. Yakima Ave., Yakima; 509-571-3112.
Almost immediately after stepping inside, you’ll find several pairs of well-priced vintage Levi’s on the right and multiple flannel shirts on the left. And a room in the back of Flippers is full of vintage clothing and accessories, including some 1980s dresses, a few 1970s polyester gowns and some vintage coats of various eras. There are a few purses and pieces of Hawaiian-style clothing as well.
• Yesterday’s Village, 15 W. Yakima Ave., Yakima; 509-457-4981.
This antique mall is large, but a leisurely walk around the perimeter and down the center aisles will take you past two booths with vintage clothing. One along the south side of the business offers women’s clothing and multiple hats and pairs of shoes and gloves. Collectors of Enid Collins purses and others similar to Collins’ designs will also see a few (be sure to look up as they’re displayed on a shelf near the ceiling). A booth along a center aisle includes a few fabulous 1980s sweaters and some casual polyester dresses similar to what you might see on “The Brady Bunch.”
• Somewhere In Time That 70s Shoppe, 3916 Main St., Union Gap; 509-248-7352.
This somewhat hidden vintage store (it’s not directly on Main Street) looks smaller on the outside than it feels inside. Vintage record fans and collectors of midcentury furniture and decor will find plenty to look at, but like Flippers in Yakima, it includes a room devoted to vintage clothing. A long rack through the middle of the room has outerwear for men and women, and men’s clothing. Dresses hang along a back wall near shelves of vintage jeans and several purses. All deserve a closer look.