Last week I began this 3 part series with How to Measure Yourself so that you can shop online for Vintage Dresses :) Today, we're going to use those measurements to find you a vintage dress that makes you feel amazing!
Please Note: This series is based on information I've gathered, things I've learned from friends and personal experience. This is a hobby of mine and I am not a professional.
How Online Sellers Measure Dresses
The garment is laid on a flat surface for measurement and the measurements are multiplied by 2. The bust is the measurement from armpit seam to armpit seam (if an item measures 18", the bust will be 36"); waist measurement is taken the same way at the narrowest point of waist; hips are also done the same at the widest point of hips; shoulders are measured from shoulder seam to shoulder seam across the front of the item; sleeve is from the the armpit to the inside sleeve cuff. (A stores shop policies will usually confirm/provide how the seller measures garments).
When shopping online for vintage clothes, reading and understanding the sizing is important. Sizes vary from designer to designer and from decade to decade, never rely exclusively on the designer's tag/numbered size (a size 10 now and a size 10 then were extremely different)! Always be sure to check the actual Bust/Waist/Hips/Shoulder measurements against your body measurements with allowance from Part 1. Since sellers provide accurate measurements, refunds are not given for poor fit; make sure you check the measurements and info before buying. If you've bought something that doesn't fit quite right, take it to a local seamstress or tailor and have alterations made if it's within your budget.
Tip: I took my body measurements and wrote what size dress is my best fit (considering allowance). I ignore my body measurements and always just look for the right dress fit :)
Finding a Dress that Compliments your Figure & Style
The right dress will make you glow, hide insecure spots and accentuate the features!
1. If you have a large bust, never buy dresses with a high collar (I feel like my boobs go from my waist to my neck when i wear a high collar). I always look for v-necks, lowish swoops, button up, or boat neck. I'm shy about my chest size & don't like to flaunt the goods so by choosing dresses that show a bit of neck and curve, my chest feels reduced and proportionate. ... high collars are a no-no. I'll show you how to style dresses to accentuate & accept your chest in Part 3 with a few secret tips too.
2. To give yourself a slim, curvy shape: look for dresses that have a bit of structure and can be belted (does not need to include the belt). I feel like I lose 10-15 pounds when I belt a dress... I wear it at the smallest part of my waist and it hides my muffin spots (more on that in Part 3). I also find that a length around the knee is most flattering (but that can be remedied easily with hemming).
3. Consider different styles, prints & colors, fabrics and era's. You will probably find you're drawn to a specific era or style as you shop but by considering all of them, you can imagine the moods they induce, the accessory potential, the destination of the garment (a day dress, going to work dress, going out for dinner, etc) and the way they suit your personality :) I like mostly 60's dresses and some that brink on 70's because I like the embraced femininity, cotton fabric, happy colors, playful feel and clean design... plus, the 60's fit works well for my curvy body type. Most of my dresses have a casual feel & that suits me well, but no matter how casual, I always feel really dressed up because it's not jeans and dresses make me feel special :)
Buying your First Vintage Dress Online
Your first time shopping, I recommend that you buy only one dress so that you can wait for it to arrive and see that your measurements & style preference are correct before you buy more.
1. Measure your body. Add appropriate excess/allowance to your actual measurements.
2. Search the Etsy.com vintage section for dresses in your size (ex. in etsy's search feature, I type "xl dresses" under the Vintage category). You can even be more specific than just size...
Tip 1: Check your size catagory often for new dresses. I bookmarked my specific search and just click the button in my toolbar at least once a day. It's fun and i'm on always on top of the options :)
Tip 2: You can add specific etsy shops to your Reader to receive listing updates!
3. Look for dresses that catch your eye. Be careful not to buy something just because it would be a great fit... it's gotta feel like YOU. It's smart to set a budget so that you don't lose control (I've bought dresses between $12 and $46 on etsy... but have also happily spent $70 on really sweet vintage!).
4. When you see a dress you like, read the listing & ask yourself...
* Do the measurements fit me? Refer to the listings measurements (not the main size label). If it's too small, don't buy it! No mindgames like "but when I lose this much"... it's not worth using your shopping budget on something you can't use right away, there's more amazing dresses out there for you to find :)
* Are there any flaws, stains or declarations you need to know about?
* Do the pictures do it justice? I like when an etsy seller has it on a dressform or model, shown with and without a belt (even if the belt isn't included), a full length photo, close up of the bust/neckline area (this also shows the print closer) and a shot of the back. And I love when the photos are pretty and done in natural light :)
Note: Many sellers "pin" larger dresses when photographed so that they can use one model. The provided measurements always give true size and should be your main reference.
5. Check the price of shipping. Most etsy sellers have really reasonable and accurate shipping rates (especially within the usa). If you are an International buyer (or Canadian), you may find the shipping seems high sometimes. It's okay to convo a seller before purchase and politely ask: if the shipping (and handling) is higher than actual, can you have a partial refund on the overages?
6. Proceed to check out once you feel it's right for you, checkout, pay immediately and wait a few weeks for it to arrive in the mail (faster within the usa).
7. Leave etsy feedback for your seller to let others know that it was a good experience and that you're happy :)
My Favorite Places to Shop (and window shop)
Etsy is my main choice for vintage dress hunting... it's easy to use, offers affordable shipping, and best of all, Etsy has so much vintage selection :) These are some of my favorites (click the images)...
...vera had the prettiest packaging I've ever received. It was beautiful.
Note: If you have a vintage clothing shop on Etsy, feel free to leave a link in the comments so others can visit :)
- Red Velvet will be massively expanding their vintage dress category in the upcoming months and the selection is going to be A-MAZING! This begins Monday!
- Modcloth sells new dresses that remind me of vintage dresses... they have a beautiful site & selection. Plus, it's fun to mix new with old... their accessories, shoes and sweaters would look great with your vintage dresses :)
Bleubird offers a great selection of handpicked vintage that's sure to spoil you and your hearts desires! I admire James' styling, models and eye for vintage!
Similar to Etsy, ebay allows you to find dresses at an affordable price, maybe even a super good deal! I prefer etsy over ebay but sometimes peruse it and score big :)
So now the fun begins! Over the next few days (no rush), hunt for your first vintage dress and purchase it (you can also do this locally at thrift stores if needed). If your measurements are right, the dress you bought should fit you without even trying it on :) Next post, I'll share tips for styling your outfit and secrets for feeling extra confident in the dress you choose :)
ps. I'd love to see you in your new dress! Join & add your picture to the Freckled Nest flickr group when you're ready :)