Confessions: Guide to Buying Vintage Shoes

I received a question from a Twitter follower yesterday. I loved it! So I thought I’d answer it here. The question juiced my brain, and then I had a few questions of my own. So with the help of vintage boutique owner, Dana, of Concetta’s Closet, I’ve compiled tips & considerations when buying vintage shoes.

@RabbitShoppe do you have any tips for buying vintage shoes? I only own one pair of vintage but always find it hard finding sizes.

Firstly, thanks for asking! (How exciting!)

There are, essentially, 2 basic ways to shop vintage shoes: (1) thrifting (stores, estate sales, flea markets, etc.) and (2) retail shops (online or local, brick-and-mortar stores),

Shopping Online & Locally

The fastest way to finding your size is going to be online, by far! Searching Etsy, Ebay, or search engines will give you the ability to customize your search via your size and/or style, while utilizing a broad pool of sellers, regionally and internationally. Keep in mind that you will likely pay more pennies for the seller’s work, in order to bring you, the customer, a quality vintage shoe. Expect to pay $25 and up, plus shipping for online orders.

(Shopping online and in local shops is great way to network with sellers and offer your contribution to the vintage and small business community.)

{courtesy of Concetta’s Closet via Facebook fan page}

If there is a brick-and-mortar vintage retail store in your area and they don’t have the style nor size that you are looking for, speak with management and tell them what you want. They will, likely, contact you if they find a shoe they think you’ll like. Some stores may even offer a good deal for a quick sale. Don’t be afraid to ask about trades too!

Vintage veteran, Dana, of Concetta’s Closet, owns a brick-and-mortar vintage retail boutique, while she also operates an Etsy shop Online. When I asked her about requests and trades between seller and buyers, she offered this:

“I know a few vintage shops on Etsy that offer trades. And I often get asked to trade pieces in my Etsy shop. I’ve done it once. As far as brick-and-mortar, I have people coming in all the time offering trades. Just recently, a lovely young lady had a bunch of 40’s/50’s cotton dresses she had inherited from her family. They weren’t her taste, but thought I’d be interested. I was in love with them when she brought them in. And it just so happened that she was looking for a prom dress. She tried on a bunch of dresses in the price range I though was appropriate for the trade – and she fell in love with a 1930’s/40’s Moulin Rouge Style dress – and that was that!

I try to help out the younger customers as much as I can, that’s why I carry an array of vintage in many price ranges. My boutique is in a college town, so many of my customers are on a budget. I’m all about exposing the youth to vintage!

When a customer comes into the boutique (or checks out my Etsy shop) and can’t find exactly what they are looking for, I often ask them for their information so that, in case I come across that special something, I will notify them. I will take down their information, including their measurements (I carry a tape measure with my where ever I go!). This has happened several times, and my customers were elated!”

Thrifting Vintage Shoes

If you are looking to thrift vintage shoes, the best advice that I can offer is patience! Many of the shoes that I come across at thrift shops are sizes that I could only dream of fitting my size 9 feet into AND STILL WALK (but I’ll do it for my listings in the shop…shhhh). Keep in mind, if you’re feet are size 8 and above, vintage shoes are harder to comeby, especially in thrift stores, I have found. But that is not to say you wont ever find any. Estate sales are fun and might give you a better selection, compared to a thrift store. That is where I would start. If you are serious, you could also network with Estate Sale companies. But they tend to be more “hush” about upcoming events, pre-sale.

When shopping vintage shoes in-person, bring a smart-phone with you. Both Dana and I do this, along with other vintage buyers. This will help you to do a quick search of the designer and determine if that vintage shoe is authentic or just another “inspired” vintage look. Lastly, peep toes, platforms, wedges, etc., are styles [that] have all been re-done,” says Dana, “so be careful and inspect thoroughly!” I know I’ve brought a couple home when I didn’t thrift with my iPhone.

So I think we’ve pretty much covered most of what you need to know when buying vintage shoes. Thanks for reading!

Have a question about vintage or thrifting? Twitter @RabbitShopppe or email:

Concetta's Closet:
Quick Tips To Spotting A Vintage Shoe

 Look for...
Wood Soles
Made in USA or in Europe
Avoid Shoes w/Condition Issues
Measure the Shoe Interior for Fit (Toe-to-Heel)
Hand Written Size/Style Numbers
     -usually on the inside of the straps or
      on interior, near the back of the heel

Visit Concetta’s Closet on Facebook or her Etsy shop for Ah-Mazing vintage!
Concetta’s Closet is located in Newmarket, NH. Stop by and say hi if you’re in town!

(click images for source)


One thought on “Confessions: Guide to Buying Vintage Shoes

  1. Chelsea! You’re a GEM! Thanks so much for this opportunity! You, your blog and your shop are all amazing! Keep up the great work and much success to you!

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