Attention all vintage clothing connoisseurs! Whether you’re a die-hard retro fiend or simply wanting a bargain, here’s a guide to finding the best vintage-inspired goods, starting with the top five sources, which are …

1. Op-shops
2. Your mum’s wardrobe (the most budget friendly of them all!)
3. Garage sales
4. Vintage stores (when they’re having a sale)
5. Local markets

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When I’m out and about, I’m always on the lookout for a vintage bargain. There are plenty of op-shops to choose from in West End, from Vinnies and Lifeline on Boundary Street, all the way to Saint Veronica’s Thrift Store on Hardgrave Road. The key to picking up a retro-gem, is to keep an eye out for brightly coloured fabrics and interesting patterns. The 80s seem to be the best era for bright colours, and luckily they seem to be in abundance in pretty much every op-shop in Brisbane. If you’re in doubt about whether a piece of clothing is genuinely vintage or not, just check out the label on the inside of the collar, and if it’s made in Australia or mentions an Australian city as part of the brand, you can rest assured that it is 100% vintage.

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You can usually find vintage items in your mum’s cupboard too and more often than not, she will think it’s daggy and pass it on to you without thinking twice. The best things they keep are usually belts from the 80s or 90s (always high-waisted and with fancy details) and old jeans. My mum has been a major influence for me and I usually wear something of hers everyday of the week. It’s always amazing to tell someone who asks about your outfit, that your mum used to wear it when she was your age. Hopefully you can get to your mum’s old clothes before she throws them out!5

Another place to find an unexpected retro gem is at garage sales. Their advertisements are usually posted on your local lamppost and written in permanent marker, but don’t be fooled by the simple advertising – garage sales are a gold mine. People are usually pretty happy to give up their old clothes, shoes, handbags and jewellery for less than $5 a piece and this means you can fill up your wardrobe without emptying your purse.

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The obvious answer to vintage fashion is the vintage stores themselves, but they’re usually not suited to the budget conscious. To be fair though, the clothes in vintage stores are usually in pristine condition and they harbour some of the most incredible creations you’ll ever come across. To bag yourself cheaper clothes from said vintage stores, look out for their sales. There’s usually a sale rack and if you’re lucky, the whole shop might be on sale. They can also be a source of inspiration and this means that you’ll know what to look for when op-shopping and how to pick out the valuable items. Places like Box Vintage and Rag and Bone in West End are a great place to start, and I must say that Box Vintage is one of my favourites.

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The last place to find yourself a vintage fashion bargain, is at local markets. A few years ago, I was walking through the West End Market (located in Davies Park and on every Saturday morning) where I discovered what is now, my favourite dress. When I first saw the dress it had big ugly sleeves and thick blue pleats. It was so long, ill-fitting, and hideous that my friends laughed at it, but I saw potential in it and bought the dress for $5. Later that night, I cut the sleeves off and shortened the skirt to my liking. The newly altered dress received a different reception the following day. So, if you happen to come across an incredible dress or skirt that’s a few sizes too big, or has oversized, baggy sleeves, don’t be afraid to go at it with a pair of scissors and a sewing a machine to customise the garment to your needs.

I’m sure there are so many more places to pick up a vintage bargain, so I’ll keep you up-to-date with what I find on my travels through 4101 and beyond.

Bianca Scargill

Images by John Colombo