If you’re looking for a unique outfit that goes beyond the colours and styles of the high street, grabbing something vintage is one of the best ways to do it.
Whether you’re lusting after a full-skirted Fifties number, or perhaps a psychedelic maxi, checking out the right retro stores will almost certainly turn up a showstopping number that everyone will ask about.
But if you are a fan of a good rummage around a vintage shop, then lockdown 3.0 has not been your friend.
Thankfully, there are some great retro stores online where you can buy clothes and accessories, including items from every decade from the 1950s to the 1990s.
One thing to remember when buying second-hand clothing online is that the sizing might not be quite what you’re expecting (vintage clothes can come up pretty small), so try and read as much about the measurements as you can, or at least check the store’s returns policy.
We’ve picked out a few sellers that we’ve tried ourselves and which we know have great items that will be worthy of head turns when you finally get to wear them out – or at home, if you’re feeling particularly fancy.
You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
In case you didn’t know, the hugely popular online clothing store Asos also oversees Asos Marketplace, which offers items from vintage stores, independent sellers and charity boutiques.
As there are lots of sellers on this site, delivery will vary, so make sure to check what they offer. Some will give you the option to track your parcel.
If you’re unsure about your purchase, you’ll need to write to the seller within 14 days requesting a refund, or within 28 days if it’s faulty.
Beyond Retro is probably one of the best-known names in the vintage clothing here in the UK. It started in 2002 as a warehouse-turned-retail store in east London, selling vintage items from across the world. Today it has stores in London, Brighton and Bristol as well as a number in Sweden.
You’ll be spoilt for choice when you browse through its website: you can shop all sorts of vintage goods including plus-size and re-worked styles, as well as lingerie and swimwear.
You can search by era, style, colour, brand and more to help you find the exact outfit you’re looking for. To get an idea of what kind of condition the item is in, it’ll be marked as either excellent, great, good, fair or unused.
We especially love Beyond Retro for its Sixties and Seventies maxi dresses, which are great for occasions (when we can celebrate them) and feeling extra glam.
Regarding delivery, there are quite a few options. You can pay £6.96 for next-day delivery, or a standard courier costs £3.95 and takes three to four days (though we’ve often received goods in less time).
We go to Black Label Vintage when we’re looking for something unique. Based in Sheffield, the store’s owner has been sourcing classic pieces for more than 20 years.
It’s one to try for a head-turning dress, though you can also get quirky separates for men and women.
There’s no delivery fee if you request UK standard post, and your item should arrive within approximately two days. Express mail will cost £5 and get it to you sooner.
Shopping for vintage overseas means you can find certain styles that you probably wouldn’t uncover quite as easily in the UK.
If you love the Hawaiian vintage vibe, one of our favourite stores on Etsy is KokeshiVintageShop, which has been on the platform since 2017 and is based in California in the US.
It has lots of items including palazzo pants and dresses in incredibly bright and bold colours, and is a brilliant site if you’re thinking ahead to summer outfits.
Receiving your item might take two weeks or more, and you’ll probably have to pay a customs fee once the package arrives, so make sure you include this in your budget before you buy (the charge will depend on the size of the item: find out more on the gov.uk website). Delivery alone is around £18.
Another leading UK vintage clothing store, Rokit started in 1986 as a stall in London’s Camden Market.
All items are handpicked, and, like Beyond Retro, the website lets you filter by tags like decade, fabric and style – so if you’re looking for a 1980s prom dress, you should be able to find it fairly swiftly. You can also search for particular brands you love.
It covers men’s and women’s fashions, including separates and accessories like belts, bags and shoes. When you’re looking at an item the site will tell you what kind of condition it’s in – mint, excellent, very good, good or fair – to give you an idea of the wear and tear.
Rokit’s returns policy means you can send items back (apart from hosiery, swimwear and pierced jewellery) if it turns out to be not quite what you were looking for.
Another California-based shop on Etsy, StoreSOLEDAD does a great line in summery separates, flared jeans and vintage band t-shirts, plus plenty more to boot.
Remember if you’re buying from overseas that there will be the extra cost of customs, and that shipping might take more than two weeks.
We bought a pantsuit which did seem to get stuck en route, but the seller couldn’t have been more helpful when we enquired about tracking, and kept in touch throughout the process.
Regarding shipping costs, if you’re not in a hurry the standard service is £18.91 to the UK, or there are two priority options for £46.47 and £55.36. We know this sounds a lot, but if you find a piece you love like we did, it might just be worth it. When it arrived, we weren’t disappointed!
If you fancy a stylish fleece to keep you warm through the chillier months, this is the store for you. Thrifted specialises in 1980s and 1990s clothes and sources items from around the world.
You’ll find plenty of designer names here too, including Fila, Carhartt, Kappa and The North Face.
You can choose standard shipping for £3.95, which means your item will arrive in two to three days, or express delivery for £5.95 to get it sooner. Returns must be made within 30 days.
Started by university student Rory Westbrook in 2014, True Vintage is a great site if you love your designer separates in particular.
Brands featured include Burberry, Adidas, Tommy Hilfiger, Reebok, Nike and more, and you’ll find plenty of classic styles. Items will have a note next to them to say what kind of condition they are in.
Standard shipping is £3, though you can go for next-day delivery for £5, or next-day delivery before 12pm for £8, if you need your purchase ASAP.
Due to Covid-19, the brand has extended its return policy to 40 days, and will issue refunds on all items. If you don’t think you can get it back to them even in that extended time, the website advises if you contact them they may still be able to facilitate a return, which we thought was a nice touch.
If accessories are more your bag (pun intended), Vestiaire Collective is the online vintage shop for you.
It started in Paris in 2009 when its founders, Fanny Moizant and Sophie Hersan, realised they had friends with unused designer items that they wanted to sell online.
This site specialises in luxury: you’ll find bags, belts and other accessories from the likes of Cartier, Dior and Chanel, and, while some items are pretty pricey (£850 for this Dolce and Gabbana handbag) there is plenty of less spendy stock too.
The site has professional and individual sellers: for the first, you can return an item up to 14 days after you bought it. If you buy from an individual seller you will need to pay a small admin fee to have the piece re-listed if you decide you don’t want to keep it.
You can get delivery with authentication, meaning your item will be checked by a professional so you know it’s the real deal. This means it will take around 10 days to arrive.
If something you want to buy has an express delivery option showing, this means it’s at the Vestiaire warehouse and has already been authenticated, so you’ll have it in your hands in no time.
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