Book Review: The Little Guide to Vintage Shopping

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the little guide to vintage shopping book

It always baffles me when I browse through Etsy.com‘s vintage section or troll Ebay.com for vintage steals. More often than not, I see 1980s garments being sold as 20s flapper dresses, or worse, fringed polyester flapper costumes from Halloween super stores being listed as RARE! flapper dress. I want to take my already loved copy of The Little Guide to Vintage Shopping and scream, Here! Read this!.

If you are new to vintage, or thinking of starting, this is a MUST read book. Written by a well respected member of the Vintage Fashion Guild, Melody Fortier has been in the vintage fashion business for almost 2 decades. And she has proven her know how in this business in her wonderfully insightful book.

There are several books on collecting vintage clothing and accessories that merely give you bios on famous designers and tons of beautiful pictures. That’s great for a coffee table or reference book. But The Little Guide to Vintage Shopping is truly a guide, and instructional manual on how to shop for quality vintage, and loaded with tons of insider tips.

The book is adorable. It has the illusion of being an old, embroidered cloth covered book. it’s small and compact enough to fit in your bag – perfect for shopping. But let’s talk about why this book is so invaluable.

Chapter 1 Vintage Defined gives you an overview of vintage is, and what it is not (ahem, 1990s) and a wonderful little glossary of some terminology you should know as a buyer. Not all designer is couture but that word is thrown around and awful lot, with a price tag to match.

Chapter 2 On the Market talks about options for places to buy and important considerations when shopping for quality.

Chapter 3 Styles of the Times gives an overview of typical styles for each decade with a great visual time line of silhouettes

Chapter 4 Dating Dilemmas (my favorite chapter) discusses how experts determine dates of garments: silhouettes, tags, labels, buttons, zippers, seams, and fabrics

Chapter 5 Sizing It Up gives you tips on how to measure and which measurements to pay attention to to ensure a good fit as well as typical silhouette features for each decade that could determine if the style is right for your body (I’m very 40s and 50s shaped)

Chapter 6 Labels and Pricing gives a good guideline for determining how much something is worth based on the designer and/or label. This is extremely helpful for today’s market, but keep in mind that prices are set by the market at any given time.

Chapter 7 Condition and Care (another favorite chapter) gives tips on what to avoid when shopping, how to care for your vintage, how to determine what fabric the garment is made of (pre-1970s garments do not have care tags). These are tips that only experts know. I was impressed

Chapter 8 Finishing Touches discusses accessories and shoes, and equally important segment in the vintage marketplace

Chapter 9 Altered States (a surprising chapter) is all about how to alter vintage for the modern wardrobe, and what you should not alter – couture for one.

Throughout the book, you’ll see colorful images of vintage pieces – some to illustrate the chapter, some are just eye candy. This is not a coffee table book, or a collector’s book so you won’t find the one page images of vintage. There are also expert tips from vintage sellers and authors sprinkled throughout the book.

There is a very brief section on great places to shop for vintage. A whole book can be, and has been, published on this topic alone so I didn’t mind that it was brief.

All in all, I have to say I was very impressed with the breadth of knowledge that was published in this book. For such a little guide, you gets volumes of expert knowledge that the average vintage shopper might not know.

If you love wearing and shopping for vintage, or if you are a new vintage seller, I highly recommend The Little Guide to Vintage Shopping.

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11 comments

1 Nem { 11.09.09 at 1:03 am }

I put this book on my Amazon wish list about a week ago but I was considering deleting it because I suspected it would be more of a coffee table book. I’m so happy to hear that it’s more useful than that. Thanks for the great review – I’ll have to persuade someone to get it for my birthday next week! :D

2 E.B. Finds { 11.09.09 at 5:37 am }

Thanks for the wonderful resource. Does the book talk about costume jewelry at all?
~Elaine

3 Sandra { 11.09.09 at 6:13 am }

Some. But not enough to consider it a good jewelry resource. Glad you liked the review!

4 Sandra { 11.09.09 at 6:17 am }

Hi Nem – No it truly is full of great tips and resources that vintage dealers take years to learn. Definitely keep it on your wish list.

5 Catwalk Creative Vintage { 11.09.09 at 7:16 am }

This is a great review Sandra. I purchased the book a few weeks back and can definitely recommend it. :)

6 jennine { 11.09.09 at 8:43 am }

i’m so glad you found the book to be useful, it was hard for me to tell because, how little i actually know about vintage, even though i’ve been buying it for 20 years. i really enjoyed her writing style, and found it to be a good read as well as informational.

7 Sydney { 11.09.09 at 12:08 pm }

Great book! Yes! I agree that is a must to have in ones book collection! Lovely blog, glad I came across it!
XOXO,
Syd Divine

8 Sandra { 11.09.09 at 6:05 pm }

Please do get it! Love your blog. You are one hot mamacita!! Thanks for reading.

9 Sandra { 11.09.09 at 6:07 pm }

Ultimately, you have to trust your own tastes and instincts, but this is definitely the best little guide for shopping smartly.

10 Jeanne Suica { 11.10.09 at 8:53 am }

Thanks I’ve just ordered it! Would love to see more book reviews.

11 Sandra { 11.10.09 at 9:10 am }

You’ll love it Jeanne! I have two more book reviews in the pipeline. Stay tuned!

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