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How To Shop For Vintage When You Can’t Try Anything On

Over the last 10 weeks, as COVID-19 left thrift stores across the country no choice but to shutter their doors, vintage enthusiasts have been forced to discover ways to thrift online. We haven’t sourced anything in person since before March 13,” says Hannah Richtman, founder of Brooklyn’s premiere curated vintage shop The Break. And while back stock inventory has helped to keep vintage e-shops afloat thus far, those resources will soon be exhausted. When that happens, online resources will be the only option for many secondhand sellers.

What are the easiest and hardest items to thrift online?
“Because you don’t have to worry about the fit so much, shoes and handbags tend to be the easiest items to thrift,” says Quinn Lake, the owner of the Depop store @quinnlakee. Lake knows what she’s doing — just ask one of the 1,047 people who’ve left her a glowing review.
As for the items that’ll give you the hardest time, according to Lake, it’s not an item but rather a brand: Levi’s. “I’m always on the hunt for Levi’s and good vintage T-shirts,” says Lake. “Those are the two items that tend to sell the fastest.”
Still, if Levi’s is what you’re after, experts have tips for you. First, do research on the specific styles, so that you know what to look for. The most sought-after style is the brand’s original 501s, which are straight-legged, mid-rise jeans with a signature button-fly closure. 505s are similar to 501s in shape but have a zip closure rather than a button-up one. 550s are tapered, 517s are boot-cut, and 515s are meant to flatter the butt. In addition to style differences, the price varies for each style, so don’t be surprised when you find original 501s for $100+ and a later style like 517s for something around the $10 range. True 501s will also feature a pinky-nail-sized red tab on the back pocket. It should read, “LEVI’S.” Don’t worry, though, if you find a pair that reads, “Levi’s” instead of “LEVI’S.” In the ‘50s, the American heritage brand went lowercase.

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