An Insider’s Guide To Shopping Vintage

For die-hard fashion girls, a standard shopping excursion can pale in comparison to the thrill of vintage shopping. Scoring a time-honored piece is extra gratifying when you have to hunt for it—plus, you get an incredible story along with your prized possession. With so much at stake, it’s important to know the best practices for shopping items from another era. Here, Adam Ornstein, owner of the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show, shares his tips for avoiding old-time clutter and fast-tracking your way to the vintage jackpot.

On The Manhattan Vintage Show


"We hold three shows a year in February, April and October. We host 75 to 90 dealer vendors from 14 states and Europe at each show and we ourselves have a long-running vintage clothing business."

On Choosing Vendors


"We always say we're in the fashion business and not the antique business. We look for vendors whose inventory represents their style and point of view and sell at the full range of price points so there will be something for every buyer."

On Shopping For Vintage


"Be open-minded: Don't be afraid to try things on. Don’t go for something that needs repairs."

On Determining Quality

"Check the condition. Hold the garment up to the light to make sure there aren't seam splits, holes or patches. Pay close attention to the armpit area, be sure to check that none of the buttons are missing and the zippers are working properly."

On Designers To Look For

"Louis Vuitton, Dior, YSL, Courrèges and the avant-garde Japanese designers are always hot. Traditional dresses and everyday womenswear from the '50s and '60s remain popular and of course, the '70s are always trendy."

On What To Splurge On


"Always look for quality craftsmanship and good design. Chanel is always a good investment piece!"

For The Masses


"We do a special exhibit for each show. In the past we have spotlighted Bonnie Cashin, Betsey Johnson, Lily Pulitzer, Carnaby Street and American Dior. Before each show we do an online sale featuring items that follow the theme of the current exhibition."