How to: Vintage-Inspired Wardrobe on a Budget

Hello Dolls!

I’ve already written a post on The Wolf and The Wardrobe on my tips for saving money when shopping for vintage reproduction clothing online, which you can check out here. But I’ve been asked to write a post on some of my more general money-saving tricks, which I’m thrilled to share with you.

  • Incorporating what you already have. This is especially important if you are just in the process of starting a vintage-inspired wardrobe, but still applicable if you already have one. Take a look at some of your favourite pieces; why are you drawn to them? Is there something about an item of clothing that could be enhanced for a more vintage feel? If you have high-waisted jeans, pencil skirts or basic tees, try to imagine what you would pair these with to enhance them. Take a good, long, and detailed look at your wardrobe. What are some of the gaps you see? What colours, patterns, styles, etc. that are missing? Before buying anything new, make sure that it can be incorporated with what you already own.
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Look how you can pair a classic pencil skirt with a more retro top. Work with what you already have.

  • Don’t spend lots of money on the basics. Consider that you can find a lot of these pieces at bargain prices, so there’s no reason to shell out the extra cash. A lot of my basic pieces like t-shirts, turtlenecks, and cardigans are from Walmart, Joe Fresh, and Target, often picked up for under $10. It’s absolutely essential to have the right kinds of basics, as these help you mix and match with your wardrobe, carry pieces from season to season, and pull pieces together. BUT there’s no need to invest a lot of money in these items when they’re so widely available for a fraction of the price you’d pay from a vintage reproduction store.
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See how a basic white top can be paired with a vintage-inspired skirt and still look super retro.

  • Look for tell-tale vintage-inspired details in modern clothing shops. SInce fashion has a way of bringing back popular styles from former decades, you can find vintage-inspired pieces in modern clothing stores. I generally find it’s a lot cheaper to find items like this at these type of shops, rather than ordering online from Modcloth or other vintage reproduction clothing sites. This kind of clothing is mass-produced, generally made outside of your respective country, and thus much cheaper. Look for patterns like polka dots or gingham, or nautical details. Maybe you can find a cute dress with a 50’s silhouette. Look around your local mall for pieces that nod to the vintage time period that you desire. In the next few weeks I will be posting my favourite vintage-inspired pieces that I’ve found at modern clothing stores for bargain prices.
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This outfit is completely from modern day shops.

  •  Buying Secondhand. Is there an item you’ve seen from a vintage-inspired clothing site that is absolutely darling, but just out of your budget? Consider looking for it secondhand! Many retro ladies post their previously worn clothing on ebay, at a fraction of the cost. Type the name of the particular dress or brand name into the search bar, and look for available products in your size. You can also frequent certain online communities that carry products secondhand, such as Piinup Girl Clothing’s online forum for ‘Swap and Sell.’ This is where trusted community members go to post ads for previously worn or gently used clothing. Of course, when shopping online like this, it is important to take the necessary steps to ensure you’re making a safe transaction.
  • Only buy clothing on sale. This is one I tend to follow a lot. I like saving up and hitting up big sales such as Labour Day, Black Friday, Boxing Day, or end of season sales for my favourite vintage-inspired clothing brands. Stop Staring!, a brand on the slightly higher end as far as prices and quality go, recently had a sale for their dresses as low as $40. When you sign up with them, you automatically get a 10% discount on your first purchase, so this could be coupled with sale items for extra bargain prices. Collectif Clothing had an end-of-summer sale where you could apply a code at checkout to get your entire order at 50% off. These are just a few examples of how you can save a large amount of money if you target the right times to invest in some gorgeous pieces. To keep tabs on these incredible deals, sign up for your favourite brand’s email lists or follow them on social media.
  • Investing in versatile pieces. If you’re going to shell out more money on an item, it makes sense to do so on something you will get a lot of wear out of, versus one stand-alone piece. Look for a dress that contains lots of different colours in it so it can be mixed and matched with your basics. Miss Victory Violet has posted on how you can convert a dress into a skirt for even more versatility.
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This is a standout piece, for sure. But I can change the red belt in for a white one. I can pair it with a white, red, or black cardigan. Or, since it’s a wiggle, I can convert it into a top by wearing a red circle skirt over top.

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I copied this pairing from Miss Victory Violet and converted the birdie dress by Pinup Girl Clothing into a skirt!

  • Do your research. One of the central tenets I go by is, ‘never get something I can get from somewhere else for cheaper.’ This does require a little more research on my part, but it ends up saving me a lot more money in the long-run. Unique Vintage and Modcloth are just two of my favourite sites that carry many brands including: Steady Clothing, Stop Staring!, Collectif, and more. Before buying from the brand’s main site, I double-check to see if there is a sale at one of these two websites first. Maybe Unique Vintage has a site-wide sale and I can get the same dress by Collectif for 20% off. I also find that Modcloth tends to reward customer loyalty by sending coupons via email regularly. These large, multi-brand carrying sites are more likely to have flash sales on top of the regular sale days like Black Friday.
  • Be smart about shipping and import charges. I live in Canada, so most of the vintage reproduction brands I like are based outside of my country, specifically in the UK and the US. This means that if I can go to a local shop, not only am I supporting my country’s economy,  and supporting local businesses, but I’m also saving on shipping and import charges. In Toronto, Loveless Boutique, Doll Factory by Damzels, and Rosie the Rebel are just a few of the local boutiques that carry various brands. I also pay attention to where the Canadian dollar stands if I’m going to make a purchase outside of Canada, using google to convert USD, etc. into CAD, that way I am aware of exactly how much the transaction will cost. But it’s also good to consider that there will be import charges, and though that can’t exactly be predicted in advance, to keep it in mind before making a purchase. Being Canadian, it’s much smarter for me to purchase from Australia first since our dollars are pretty close, the US next, and the UK last. I absolutely adore Collectif Clothing, a UK company, but I always check to see if a product I’m interested in is available either locally, or through Unique Vintage or Modcloth, since it’s much closer to my dollar, and there’s generally more sales.
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It’s a gorgeous, but basic black dress, but it can be dressed up with lots of accessories!

  • Accessories make the outfit. One of the best and most cost-friendly ways to both diversify your wardrobe, and give it an overall vintage feel, is to incorporate accessories. Never spend a lot of money on accessories! You can get a pack of multi-coloured hair scarfs on amazon for between $5-10. A lot of dresses from vintage-reproduction brands come with belts that you can also pair with other outfits in your wardrobe. You can find cheap, vintage-like jewellery at Walmart (I got lovely earrings for $2 once), Target, or Aldo. Vintage stores also carry beautiful, authentic vintage costume jewellery for affordable prices. Brooches, necklaces and earrings are all cost-friendly pieces that can really change the look of an outfit when you accessorize it differently. Also do not invest a lot of money in shoes; vintage styles are coming back and you can find cheap pairs at Walmart, Ardenes, and various other stores.
  • Accentuate your hair and make up. Of course this is optional if you are more content with dressing vintage by itself, rather than going for the overall aesthetic. But I find that by wearing a red lip and wearing my hair in pincurls, it really enhances the vintage look, thus making my outfits standout as more retro. You can find great, cost-friendly red lipstick at your local drugstore. I’m a big fan of Revlon and Rimmel London’s Kate Moss line.

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Hopefully these tips are helpful to you, they certainly have been for me! If you are interested in even more money-saving tricks when ordering online, check out my post on the Wolf and the Wardrobe here.

xx KirstieMyDear

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7 thoughts on “How to: Vintage-Inspired Wardrobe on a Budget

  1. Phenomenal, wonderfully thorough post, sweet lady. I swear, I was nodding the whole way through, especially because I do pretty much all of these things myself. I have a very, very modest budget for my personal shopping and have to think about every dollar I shell out, so making wise choices with my spending has just become part and parcel for me at this point in my life. You really went above and beyond the usual with your great tips here, thank you so much for sharing them with us!

    ♥ Jessica

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    • Thank you so much for your kind comment. I’m so glad that you were able to relate so much. It really is a well-thought out process when determining how best to expand your wardrobe while spending as little money as possible – I’m thrilled you’re able to appreciate that as well! But that challenge is also part of the fun, I think!

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