Hayden's Vintage 101

Hayden's Vintage 101

Vintage can be intimidating. What is it? Where does one find it? We interviewed our owner and lead stylist, Hayden Curtin, to shed some light on her sourcing process, how to tell a quality piece from a not-so-nice one, and why she prefers curated shops rather than typical thrift stores. 

How should a total beginner, someone with minimal fashion exposure, approach Vintage? How did you get started? 

There’s no right or wrong way, but I’d use the adage “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Look to other people for style inspiration, whether it’s street style, old family photos, Pinterest, or celebs. There’s no shortage of Vintage style these days, so find someone that inspires you and build from the ground up, starting with a basic—whether it’s a jean, a jacket, a shift dress, what have you. There’s no right or wrong way, but if you're trying to create a wardrobe with Vintage, I’d try to buy basic first, favoring your lifestyle. Don’t buy ballgowns if you live in jeans. Stick to the colors you naturally gravitate towards because then you’ll be able to incorporate more patterns and textures once you’ve got the foundational set. 

As for my own journey, I’ve been into Vintage from the time that I was in high school. The ultimate status symbol in a dress-code-heavy boarding school environment was the perfect broken in pair of navy blue cords. So, my appreciation for Vintage began with navy blue corduroy.  

What is your process for shopping Vintage?

I always look at the bottom of the racks because generally you can see the clothing better at the bottom than at the top of the rack. I look for natural fibers, cottons, linens, or blends that breathe. Start with your local church thrift store or hit the garage sales. Before items get to a thrift store, they start in someone else’s closet, basement, or attic, so cut out the middleman and go to estate sales and yard sales.

What do you think are some misconceptions surrounding Vintage? 

That it’s cheap, smelly, all polyester, and ugly. Vintage shopping is also seen as time consuming or laborious, but it doesn’t have to be if you come to Upper East Vintage!

What are the signs of a quality Vintage collection when visiting a store or website?

The pieces are presented well and chosen for their specific attributes. Labels are fun, but they don’t mean everything. A good Vintage buyer knows quality and craftsmanship can be found in surprising places.

What are the differences between thrifting and shopping Vintage?

Thrifting is the stepping stone to Vintage. While they are connected, thrifting is usually a lower price point and merchandise is generally donated or sourced cheaply, whereas a true Vintage store sells higher end, quality, curated pieces.

Vintage might have its roots in the past, but it presents opportunities for endless learning, community-building, and experimentation. Each item is a piece of history, and when you incorporate it into your own personal style, you become a part of that history!  


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