Thrifting Coups

How to Thrift Vintage DenimApr 07 2017

Of late, one of my favorite things to thrift is vintage denim, which is convenient since vintage denim is pretty much the hottest thing right now.  The problem is, it’s kind of hard to do if you don’t know what to look for.  But guess what, ladies - I’m going to tell you exactly what to do!  Your wallet and your butt will thank me.


I do so much of my thrifting in the boys’ and men’s sections, and denim is no different.  Why?  Perhaps confusion on the part of thrift store employees, but more often than not, the true vintage stuff just wasn’t made for women.  That should not deter you!  It also has the added bonus of being cheaper in the men’s and kids’ sections, because OF COURSE women’s stuff is more expensive.  Thrift stores are not immune from this sexist pricing.  Nevermind that the wage gap makes it even more expensive for women.  Nevermind that!  This post is about vintage denim.

Which brings me to my next thrifting tip:


If you’re into vintage, you know that sizes are just a construct.  Especially modern sizes – they have no basis in reality!  Don’t let vanity get the better of you.  A good rule of thumb for vintage denim is to size two or three waist sizes up.  I’m a 26 in modern denim, but my vintage jeans are generally 28 or 29.  Same thing for numbered sizes.  I’m about a 2 in modern clothes, but a 5, 7 or even 9 in vintage!

Just look at the fit, ladies.  Pay no mind to the label.


Another great thing about vintage denim being so hot right now is that the more faded, ripped up, beat up, just generally destroyed, the better.  That’s good because old denim tends to be lived in, and let’s face it, thrift stores don’t always have the best track record for condition.

True denim collectors are super into those lived-in details.  The faded creases in the legs where the denim molded to the previous owner’s body, the wallet outline in the butt pocket – that’s what they look for.  Even butt rips (BUTT RIPS!!!!) are desirable.  None of those machine-made rips, the true rips show just how loved those vintage jeans were.


As a corollary to the previous thrifting tip, you can DIY your own denim alterations, because raw hems (aka lazy hemming with a pair of dull scissors) and drop hems are also super in right now. 

I probably don’t have to tell you that customized, well-fitting clothes tailored to you always look better than straight off the rack.  Even more so when we’re talking vintage denim, because (a) ‘80s tapering makes everyone look dumpy, and (b) judging from the various lengths I encounter, people of the past were either 8 feet tall, or goddamned leprechauns.  My favorite alteration, lazy hemming or actual hemming-wise, is to crop vintage jeans at my ankle.  It takes care of that terrible ‘80s taper you can barely pull on past your heel, and you get to show off your shoes (hopefully also thrifted).

...and that's pretty much it.