With each new season of runway shows and designer lookbook releases, it can be tempting to buy the latest trends.
But buying expensive, trendy pieces is a terrible investment. What you’ll get is a look that will hopefully last a year or two, but may in reality only be on-trend for a few months before a different look replaces it.
That’s what makes buying and wearing vintage or vintage-inspired pieces so great.
Vintage never goes out of style. Investing in high-quality pinup, Victorian, or other vintage styles is a great way to build a fun, unique wardrobe full of pieces that you can wear for years to come.
But if you’re going to rock a retro look, you need a handbag or two to match.
If you’re ready to start accessorizing your retro outfit, keep reading. We’re breaking down how to find the perfect vintage-inspired or true vintage handbags, how to spot fakes, and how to make the most of your investment!
Choose Between True Vintage or Vintage-Inspired
Before you can start shopping for the perfect vintage handbags to match your favourite vintage-inspired look, you have an important decision to make.
You’ll need to decide whether you want to buy true vintage handbags or just vintage-inspired.
Choosing True Vintage
There is one obvious advantage to choosing true vintage handbags: you’re buying the real deal.
A true vintage piece will give your outfit an edge, as well as a unique look that’s tough to beat.
The problem with choosing to buy true vintage is that it sometimes comes with a hefty price tag. If you want a bag that hasn’t been overly used and abused, and shows little wear-and-tear, you’ll likely have to shell out big bucks. This is especially true if you want a designer bag from a popular designer.
If you’re willing to carry a bag that isn’t by a well-known designer, or one that shows significant wear, you can save some money.
Getting the vintage look doesn’t necessarily require a bag from a popular designer. There will be plenty of vintage bags out there in the colours and styles of the time period that you’re looking for that were made by lesser-known designers or even department stores.
Another downside to choosing a true vintage bag is that you’ll have fewer options when it comes to colour and style.
If you have your heart set on a handbag that matches a particular outfit, it could take you a while to find a bag that matches. This is especially true if your chosen outfit strays beyond neutral colours and patterns.
But vintage handbags can be a great investment, as well as an incredible addition to your wardrobe.
While nothing beats a beautiful, vintage designer handbag in terms of investment value, these aren’t without their drawbacks.
If you want a less expensive bag and the ability to tailor your handbag choice to match your favourite vintage-look, a vintage-inspired bag might be the better choice.
You’ll have far more options when it comes to picking a colour, pattern, and style. You’ll also get more options in terms of size. This allows you to pick your favourite handbag style, whether it’s a crossbody or a large carry-all.
Another benefit to choosing vintage-inspired rather than true-vintage is that you can get a bag that is brand new. This means less wear-and-tear and no need to carefully clean your new purchase.
In addition, shopping for the perfect vintage handbag takes time, because the older the bag you’re looking for, the fewer available handbags there are on the market.
Vintage-inspired is much more readily available. If you need a bag fast, to match an outfit for a party or other event, or just want to carry your bag right away, vintage-inspired might be the best choice.
Choose Your Style
Once you’ve decided whether you plan to buy a true-vintage or vintage-inspired handbag, it’s time to decide what style you want to buy. This is largely determined by your own personal preference.
First, consider whether you’re buying a bag to match a specific outfit that you have or just one that matches your personal style.
For instance, if you already have a stunning 1950’s-inspired pinup dress, there’s no better way to accessorize than with a matching retro clutch.
If you don’t have a specific outfit in mind, just consider a style that you enjoy wearing, and look for a bag that complements that style.
Shopping for the Perfect Vintage Inspired or True Vintage Handbags
Once you’ve decided between vintage-inspired or true vintage handbags and picked a style to look for, it’s time to shop. Here are a few tips for where to look for vintage-inspired or true vintage handbags and how to be smart about which bag you purchase.
The best place to start shopping for vintage handbags is local stores.
Vintage clothing stores, antique shops, and even flea markets or car boot or jumble sales are the best places to find the perfect vintage handbag. Online is another option, but you’ll need to be smart about shopping on the web to avoid overpaying or getting scammed.
Vintage Clothing Stores and Antique Shops
Vintage clothing stores and antique shops will likely have the best selection. You’ll get to see and feel potential bags before you buy, which is a clear advantage over buying online.
In addition, these stores often have experience curators who know what they are selling. You may get a certificate of authenticity, or at least the word of an expert on whether the bag is truly authentic.
This is essential if you are choosing to buy a designer vintage bag.
One downside to this expert advice is that antique shops and vintage clothing stores know what they are selling. This means that you are unlikely to score a great deal and instead will end up paying top dollar for that perfect vintage designer bag.
Flea Markets, Car Boot, or Jumble Sales
Flea markets and car boot or jumble sales are great for finding awesome deals on vintage pieces. You’ll have to do a lot more searching, but you may just stumble across an incredible find as a result. This is also a fun, inexpensive way to spend an afternoon.
If you’re not looking for a designer bag, either of these locations can be a great place to shop. You’ll likely have tons of options, and the chance to see your bag and maybe even do some bartering before you buy.
Vintage-inspired may be more difficult to come by in local shops. Look for local stores specializing in vintage-inspired clothing. If you don’t have any such stores near you, you may be better off looking online for a larger selection.
The Problem of Fake Vintage Designer Handbags
One major problem with shopping for vintage designer handbags, no matter where you choose to shop, is spotting fakes.
The abundance of fake designer handbags is a serious issue.
Many retailers, both online and in person, try to pass off these fakes as real. You get a cheaply made bag at a high price tag. By the time you realize that you have a fake, it is often nearly impossible to track down the seller, and even harder to try to get your money back.
Sometimes these are easy to spot and readily advertised as fake. But while this can seem like a great way to get a vintage-look for less, these often are far from a smart purchase.
Counterfeit purse makers are often operating illegally. They don’t pay taxes, and may illegally import their goods.
These goods are also often produced in sweatshops in poor countries. Child labour and low wages are often the norm, as are very poor working conditions.
When these goods are shipping to the UK or elsewhere, they aren’t inspected. This means that they may not meet normal safety requirements. They could be covered in dangerous chemicals or be made with highly flammable materials.
The Best Ways to Spot a Fake Designer Handbag
Spotting a fake designer handbag can be tough.
Sometimes the fake is of very poor quality, and as a result, is very easy to spot. It may be missing important logos, be made of very cheap materials, or look as though it was poorly constructed, with uneven handles or a crooked shape.
Other times, you’ll need to examine the bag very closely and look for important, minute detail to tell whether a vintage designer bag is a fake.
The first red flag that indicates that a designer handbag may be a fake is the price.
Unless you’re shopping at a car boot or jumble sale, it’s very unlikely that a designer bag will go for less than at least several hundred dollars. Depending on the designer and age or condition of the bag, that number could be in the thousands instead.
If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Even a great deal at a car boot or jumble sale might indicate a fake. Consider the rest of the items at the sale. If it seems unlikely that the owner of the car boot or jumble sale would have been able to afford the designer vintage handbags when they were new, this could be an indicator that the bag is fake.
Other Ways to Spot Fake Designer Bags
If the sale seems legitimate and the price is right, it’s time to examine the bag itself.
Look at the logo. Check to see whether it looks accurate, with the correct font and spacing. Then, look at the seams of the purse. Consider whether they seem professional and strong.
Finally, consider the hardware and materials. Determine whether they seem like real metal, leather, or high-end fabric.
Another way to help you spot fake designer vintage handbags is to do your research.
If you know what era bag you’re looking for, you can easily go online and research different bags that each designer made at that time. This will make it easier for you to spot styles or colours that weren’t produced, and are therefore likely fake.
Make the Most of Your Investment
When you’re shopping for vintage handbags, it can be tempting to choose one in a wacky colour or pattern to match your favourite outfit.
But while this may be great for completing one perfect vintage look, it limits what else you can wear and carry that bag with.
If you’re only buying one bag and want to make the most of your investment, look for vintage handbags in neutral colours or styles.
White, black, or brown, or other solid colours and simple patterns will be much easier to match with different outfits and looks. This will allow you to carry your bag much more often.
Keep in mind that a high-end, designer vintage handbag will last much longer than your favourite clothing items if you care for it correctly. It will also cost much more. Matching your clothing to your bag, instead of the other way around, can help you make the most of your investment.
Building Outfits Around Your Vintage Handbags
Once you’ve purchased the perfect vintage handbag, the fun begins.
If you matched your handbag choice to a favourite outfit of yours, it’s time to accessorize. Look for retro jewellery, shoes, and wraps or sweater to make a complete outfit.
Then, complement the look with the perfect hairstyles and makeup accurate to the time period that you’ve chosen.
If you chose vintage handbags first, without an outfit in mind, it’s time to find the perfect pinup or Victorian-inspired dress or other clothing!
With so many options to choose from, including fun patterns, classic florals, or solid colours, you can pick an outfit to match any handbag or style.
If you’re ready to start looking for the perfect dress to inspire your choice of vintage handbags or match a bag you already have, check out our selection today! You’ll find everything from casual pieces to polka dot styles and more!