This weekend you can find Chicago’s antiques dealers, collectors, funky fashionistas and crafty chicas all in one location. The always highly anticipated Modern Vintage Chicago will be taking over Plumbers Hall this Saturday and Sunday for their Spring Fashion and Jewels event, and I’m excited to dive headfirst into the experience! And an experience it is indeed. For a first timer it can be downright overwhelming.

For advice on vintage shopping and specifically navigating this expansive shopping exhibition, I turned to the creators of Modern Vintage Chicago themselves, Sally Schwartz and Nena Ivon. Both ladies were sweet and so very informative. And don’t think I’m the only one who can gain access to this information, both Sally and Nena will be there this weekend and if you need help or advice on finding a particular item, they can steer you in the right direction for sure.
Now, to the advice! Here’s how you do it, aspiring vintage fashionistas!

Tips for navigating events like Modern Vintage Chicago

Sally — I think it’s best to be patient and persistent. I like people to come [to Modern Vintage Chicago] for both days, because there really IS so much STUFF. There’s a difference in shopping in a store versus shopping in an exhibition. With a store everything you might be looking for is laid out for you. With an exhibition you need to dig.

— They might hate me for this, but don’t buy at the first booth. Walk around, check everything out, and then come back if you really saw something you wanted.

— Always bring CASH. You can negotiate with cash. Don’t be insulting with a lowball offer, but if you only have a set number of bills, a seller might lower their price if you ask respectfully.

— The items here [at Modern Vintage Chicago] are preselected. Little repairs have been done, buttons have been sewed on. That doesn’t always happen when you go vintage shopping. So you want to inspect your items carefully. With vintage coats, check inside the lining. You can really tell the condition of an item if you look on the inside.

— You HAVE to go upstairs into the big ballroom, that’s where you’ll find the most expensive jewelry and designer brands. You have to see the Louis Vuitton steamers, just to see them! And if you’re on a budget, then you gotta shop on the ground level. That’s where the blogger bargainistas are!

— EVERYTHING on site is priced below retail. There’s amazing jewelry to be found for $5. And with vintage you know nobody else will be wearing what you’ve got. So come out, and later in the day you can REALLY negotiate.

Nena — Talk to your vendor and ask nicely what the best price could be on an item.

Fashion Tips for Vintage Buying

Sally — vintage shopping is the perfect way to experiment with your look. Dare to try something on that you’ve never tried before. Don’t shop to look like everyone else.

— You can change your outfit with a belt or a purse, super easy ways to integrate vintage into your wardrobe!

— When you’re young and creative and you look good – this stuff is MADE FOR YOU. Enjoy it!

Nena — Know yourself. Play up your assets. Vintage fashion is fashion at its most unique and personal. Don’t be afraid to try stuff on and think of what you can combine with your existing wardrobe. Be free with fashion!

— This spring, think bright colors and patterns. Everything comes back around and it comes around a little differently. So instead of buying the new trend at a chain store, you can get something from the original trend when it first became popular. And it’ll look cooler and you will know nobody has the exact item you have!

— if you see it and you love it, GET IT. Nobody wants buyer’s remorse!

Tips for plus size shoppers who love vintage clothing

Nena — Obviously you’ll have to look at each and every piece and do some digging. Devote some time. There are treasures to be found. Also, focus on specific items that could be easier to find. Thinks capes and coats and seperates. For dresses you might have a tougher time. And talk to your dealer, they know what they have and what might fit you.

Sally — when you’re looking for vintage, there were certain styles and eras that cared more. 1940’s style dresses catered more to voluptuous women. And the 70’s were all about loose, flattering silhouettes. Whereas the 50’s were about high waisted, tight fitting stuff. Know your era and shop accordingly.

I’ll be at Modern Vintage Chicago this weekend looking for unique spring fashion items! Click here to get your tickets. And ALL of the images here came courtesy of Modern Vintage Chicago, so that gives you an idea of what you can expect!

Thanks Sally and Nena!! Can’t wait to meet you!

What are your best vintage shopping tips, fashionistas?

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Richard says:
April 15, 2011, 12:44 pm
The link to Modern Vintage Chicago in the first paragraph appears to be incorrect. It should point to
bella says:
April 15, 2011, 1:23 pm
Correct- badly closed HTML tag caused the error. Fixed! Thank you :)
sally s says:
April 15, 2011, 1:42 pm
Patrice, great article!! You really pulled it together, this could be the definitive guide to vintage fashion shopping. Can't wait to meet you Sunday, thanks again ;-) Sally
pets says:
April 16, 2011, 8:36 pm
The closest I have come to this would be Saturday morning at Portobello Market London, England got great stuff - not vintage though BUT still going strong some 10 years after!
Buki says:
April 18, 2011, 1:02 am
i was there both days! <---shop-a-holic I looked for your for but didn't see it. I got some great finds! Thanks for the tip
@laura_luna says:
April 18, 2011, 11:10 am
I LOVE vintage!!! One of the best tips I can give ANYONE is KNOW YOUR MEASUREMENTS (especially important for plus size vintage lovers) :)
Tina says:
April 20, 2011, 5:16 pm
I am drooling over the vintage steamer trunks. I have one that belonged to my great gandfather, but it's not LV...
joan debooth-smith(Crawl) says:
June 8, 2011, 4:30 pm
My dear Bella,you are truly a God send.This is one of my passions here on the East Coast.I have been a collector of "Vintage Fashions and Haberdasheries" for years and not everyone in my city has an appreciation for them as I do. I am also multi-faceted just as you are..I have followed you since I have subscribed to "Afrobella",and see the difference that you have make in our culture as far as: Haircare,Makeup,and skincare.If I had a good supply of Makeup to spring into action for the "Chicago Show,"I would without a doubt submit an entry for the tickets to attend that show.
online discount store says:
June 11, 2014, 10:00 pm
Hi, I log ?n t? ?o?r ne? stuff daily. Y?ur story-telling style is awesome, keep up t?e g?od work!


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