You don't have to spend a fortune to score a great vintage dress.

Vintage Misconceptions: Vintage is Expensive

I can still remember scouring racks of incredibly timeless dresses at a vintage store in Portland, Maine, hoping I’d be able to find one under $100. No matter where I travel, I always try to find the local vintage stores in the area, and I hit the goldmine when I traveled to Maine a few years back. This store had ball gowns you would expect to see draped on old Hollywood starlets and made me, in fact, have stars in my eyes.

This was definitely one of the more higher-end vintage stores I had been to, and while I was in awe, it’s definitely not the type of vintage I seek often simply because it can get incredibly expensive. This is not my typical everyday experience with vintage, and it doesn’t have to be yours either.

I have had several successful ventures over the years to the local Salvation Army stores here in Grand Rapids. Some of the holiday dresses I have purchased for less than $10 have been listed on vintage websites for over $200. It truly is incredible what you can find when you least expect it and without breaking the bank.

Amy Baird shows off one of her latest finds.
Amy Baird shows off one of her latest finds.

The seasons are changing and everyone craves spicing up his or her fall and winter wardrobes, so I decided to see what fall treasures I could find for less than $30 at Salvation Army on 28th Street. Why $30? Most standard quality pieces of vintage, especially dresses, tend to be around this price range. This price may sound easy for a Salvation Army, but my goal was to find at least three interchangeable substantial pieces that could be worn for years to come.

Any vintage hunt can be hit or miss but I was excited to find such fun pieces. The dress I found was silky beige with a Victorian navy pattern. It could easily be worn with pearls and out for a fancy dinner or casually paired with a jean jacket and ankle boots, and only for $6.

The coat, while it wasn’t technically vintage, was so rich in color that I couldn’t resist envisioning the many outfits it would brighten up. It was also in only slightly used condition, making it a very practical purchase if I wanted something to last me a long time, and it was only $15.

You don't have to spend a fortune to score a terrific vintage outfit.
You don’t have to spend a fortune to score a terrific vintage outfit.

My most pleasant surprise was finding this gorgeous veiled vintage hat. I understand an accessory like this might be bold for most people, but I’m here to tell you to take the plunge.  This hat was only $5 and it had the power to make me feel worth a fortune with its simple elegance. Something like this I would save for a wedding, dinner party, the theatre, or any outfit that needed dramatic flair.

All of these pieces happened to look great when worn together for a more fancy ensemble, and for only $26!

Give yourself a goal when you are vintage shopping, and if you’re on a budget set a price.

The holiday season is here; give back to the community by donating your extra clothing to Salvation Army and other local donation centers.

*Photos by Amy Baird

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