Nika Notes: Looking Fabulous on a Budget: My Guide to Vintage and Consignment Shopping | Faces of Black Fashion: Nika Notes: Looking Fabulous on a Budget: My Guide to Vintage and Consignment Shopping

Monday, April 8, 2013

Nika Notes: Looking Fabulous on a Budget: My Guide to Vintage and Consignment Shopping

There's something about vintage clothing that remind me of my style icons from the past. Women like Zora Neale Hurston, Audrey Hepburn, Josephine Baker and Jackie Kennedy whose photos I use to sit pour over during my college years. These women embodied style that complement, but did not overpower, them. I believe one of the reasons they are so widely admired is that they skillfully used clothing to express their individuality. So I went on a search to emulate what these women portrayed and discovered vintage.
I discovered vintage shopping on Ebay in my last year of college. NYC had become the incubator that nourished and developed my personal style, but I hadn't yet discovered its plethora of  vintage stores. Eventually my search led me to Ebay. Over the years, my love for vintage blossomed into a love for consignment shopping. I have spent seven of the last ten years as a student, so while I adore fashion and clothing (a bit too much), my student status required budget friendly purchases. Through trial and error, I've narrowed down my favorite picks for vintage and consignment shopping. Enjoy my guide below. 

Today Ebay still remains my number one go-to for budget friendly shopping. Ebay has a plethora of everything: vintage, gently used consigned items, and new stuff for a fraction of the cost.  The key to shopping Ebay is finding the right sellers for you. Ensure that you read reviews and look at seller ratings before bidding on items. Also feel free to err on the side of caution by asking sellers questions about sizing, shipping or anything else. Most sellers are happy to answer questions about listings.

Consignment Shops
These are the perfect places to find gently used (or even never worn) designer and vintage pieces. More importantly, you get a chance to try before you buy. A lot of consignment shop also allow you to sell your gently used clothing for store credit and/or cash. How’s that for striking a win/win deal. Here are some of my favorite consignment shops broken down by city:

New York City
Beacon’s Closet - Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Tokyo Joe’s - Manhattan
Buffalo Exchange - Manhattan and Brooklyn

Washington, D.C./Maryland
Rock It Again – U Street, Washington, D.C.
A Second Chance – Bethesda, Maryland
Mustard Seed – Bethesda Maryland

Los Angeles, CA
Crossroads Trading ( I spend A LOT of time at the Old Town Pasadena location)
American Vintage
Buffalo Exchange

Boston, MA
Second Time Around – Newbury Street, Boston

Goodwill/Salvation Army
Doesn’t it feel good to shop and do something good for others at the same time? I have found some of my best vintage blazers and belts in these stores for alarmingly low prices.   You will probably have to dig a bit to find great pieces, but trust me it will be worth it. Also you can donate your gently used items and pass on those goodies to someone else. Both Goodwill and Salvation Army stores have special sale days where you can get 50% (or more) off already low prices. Keep an eye out for those sales!

While the above are my personal top choices, I have also snagged great items on Etsy or other online vintage websites (check out Jacque who I featured HERE). A lot of bloggers have created personal online shops/boutiques with great bargains. 

Tips for shopping and wearing vintage and consigned items:
1. When shopping online, if you are unsure about a size, ASK.  Vintage sizing tends to be different from modern sizing, so it helps to get exact measurements
2. When shopping in store, closely examine items you choose for damage, and make sure to try before you buy.
3. Sometimes certain items will have small imperfections, don’t be alarmed. It’s usually something that can be fixed at the dry cleaners or by a tailor.
4.   Mix your vintage pieces with the modern pieces in your closet.
5.   Have fun wearing vintage and expressing your individual style!



  1. I've been looking into vintage for awhile now. Thank you for this post, I'm out in New York and I wasn't too sure on where to go but this surely helps me out. Great tips.

  2. I didn't know there is a crossroad in PPasadenaand I grew up there! Nice tips!!!!


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