Do I really need two tasselled vintage cowboy jackets? The rational answer is 'no', but rational thoughts aren't what you really need on entering a newly discovered vintage store. In fact, for the majority of cases, the rational question is not even asked in the first place. You see, I believe it to be a truth too often unacknowledged that any vintage shopper in possession of a good fortune, must be able to use her heart, not her head. So tuck your minds into bed and follow my tips for letting the soul choose which clothes to buy.
Don't stick to the basics
We read a lot about essential classics, investment pieces, the fashion basics. While I am a firm believer in the fact that we should all be the proud owners of a perfect little black dress, I don't think that sticking to the concept of minimalism is the way to go when surrounded by 1920s flapper dresses. Of course, when questing for the ideal Breton top, perfect pair of jeans or just-so trench coat, the hunt can never be off. However, I would suggest keeping the to-find list out of the way while you absorb what is on offer, otherwise you may only narrow your search and miss a unique piece which is great for you.
Be open to recommendations
There are pros and cons to taking a friend shopping, so it really depends who you have available to go with you. It may not be a good idea to take someone with similar taste but more money, as they could snaffle the pieces you want but can't afford! If you decide to go it alone, try getting the opinion of the shop-owner or attendant. Many are lovely and know a hell of a lot about what they sell, plus if you visit a particular shop regularly, you can build up quite a rapport with them. Regular clients are often treated to having pieces held back on their behalf as soon as they come in. Once they start to know you, they can offer things they know you'll love.
Know what period suits you
As I've already said, it does no good to eliminate anything from your search, but maybe you know how good 50s stuff looks on your curves, or love to show off your back in 30s evening dresses. It's not just about your body though, by knowing what matches with your personality you may get a better idea of your aesthetic, which links to the next tip...
Become a visual person
Sometimes shops can be organised by colour, or you can at least be sure that some of their finest pieces will be displayed on the walls or in the window. Many who are interested in art and fashion would already consider themselves visual people, but to apply that to this situation, you need to take in a view of the whole shop before deciding where to start rifling through. Be vigilantly on the look-out, even if you don't know what for.
Only bring your head in when it comes to price
While using your heart is best for finding what you love, using your head is best for buying what you love. Use whatever justification system you need: cost-per-wear; how many weeks' wages; what else could you get for this much? etc. Obviously I mustn't encourage you to blow everything on one sequin top from the 70s, so please don't spend so much that you'll regret it. On the other hand, consider how much you might regret it if you DON'T buy it...