When hearing the words “vintage” or “thrift,” one might think the two words are interchangeable. Although both can be used to describe buying second-hand clothes, walking into a “vintage” store versus a “thrift” store can leave a hefty difference in selection of goods and the price you’ll pay for them. To help ease you into the wide world of second-hand shopping, here are a few key piece of knowledge to help you find those pieces you love, without overspending.

Vintage

The word “vintage” is commonly used to describe clothing that is at least 25 years old, and is often not produced in large masses or in a great variety of colors and styles, as said on Highlark. When walking into a true vintage store, you can often expect to have authentic pieces carefully selected by buyers. That 1984 Metallica concert t-shirt you found? Most likely actually from the concert. Although vintage shops generally do carry a higher price tag, the pieces you find will be chosen for their brand name or authentic label and lasting quality. These shops are the place to go if you want to easily find a  Chanel skirt or pair of Manolos from many seasons ago.

Thrift

Thrift stores typically operate on a system of donations. This means that their stock is often from the closets of people who gave their clothing to the store. While they may not carry as much of a select stock as vintage stores and you may have to do a little more hunting through racks of clothing to find a specific brand or style, the price tag will generally be a lot lower. Thrift shops are a great place to find fun, funky pieces at an affordable price. Don’t be afraid to dedicate some time to the racks; with a little searching, you’ll find some quirky pieces that will become your closet favorites.

Is it Authentic?

A thrift store may not be able to answer as well as a vintage store whether a product is authentic. Just because you see “Louis Vuitton” on a bag doesn’t mean that it came from Italy. Counterfeits have gotten so close to looking like the original that to the uninformed eye, it may look like the real deal. As said in Forbes, to help determine if it came from the atelier itself, be sure to look at the details. Making sure prints line up on seams, leather doesn’t feel slippery when it’s supposed to be drier, and checking for uneven stitching are some surefire ways to determine a real designer piece from a copy. Checking for back or inside details on pieces are also key ways to check for authenticity, since many times counterfeiters work from photos of products, and are unable to replicate such details. Finally, although it may seem obvious, check the tag. “Made in China” may be the easiest way to see if a product is authentic or not; simple spelling mistakes can also be a clear indicator of a genuine designer deal. By following these basic guidelines, you can more easily determine if that adorable Valentino bag you found is authentic, and have fun thrifting.

Featured image styled by Yenifer Ubiera

Fashion and coffee enthusiast. When Kassidy isn’t out exploring new coffee shops and museums in NYC, she can be found writing about everything fashion related.