In an effort to buy less, buy thoughtfully, and — let’s be honest — look cool, I have turned more frequently toward secondhand and vintage shopping. So far, it’s great. Each piece I buy is more likely to be well-cut, breathable, and of high quality. Basically, I wear a lot more linen now. Score!
My personal epiphany is nothing new. People have been digging through bins and combing through racks (and searching eBay and Etsy for #finds) long before I decided to stop shopping at H&M. What’s a little newer is where people are searching for vintage pieces — on Instagram.
And let me tell you. It’s a thrill.
Instagram vintage shops generally work one of two ways. Some shops post items on Instagram as soon as they become available on their online stores. Then, to buy the item, you head to the shop’s website (link in bio) and check out as you would from any online retailer.
The more fun approach, in my opinion, is that of shops like Na Nin Vintage. These stores also post their items the moment they become available, but you must stay on Instagram to buy. In Na Nin’s case, the first person to DM their zip code and email address (for PayPal purposes) wins the item.
Sometimes, that takes under one minute. And that floaty blue button-up you wanted is gone, gone, gone.
So, if you really want to snag an item, the easy solution is to turn post notifications on. But do this for too many accounts, and your days become a torrid sea of push notifications. Think your friends are texting to make plans with you this weekend? Not so fast, buddy — Na Nin just posted six new items.
Now, my best practice is to turn post notifications on for one or two accounts at a time. I choose these accounts based on what ~aesthetic~ I’m feeling in recent weeks — for example, if I’m looking for a bright silk shirt or a green glass decanter (it’s happened, okay?), I’ll turn on notifications for Esme’s Drawer Too.
Yes, when items can slip away in a minute or less, the risk of impulse buying is real. But, to be honest, I’ve never actually regretted an Instagram purchase. Why? I don’t want to waste money! The items I go for — a brown cotton turtleneck sweater, a big white linen shirt — are generally between $40 and $100 (although there are certainly more expensive, luxurious offerings out there), which means they’re not throwaway purchases. So before I pull the DM trigger, I have to really be smitten. This, believe it or not, has made me more picky, and more realistic about which items will actually work in my closet.
Here’s a shirt I bought last week. I have already worn it three times. I feel absolutely victorious about it.
Now, as with any retail experience, there are downsides. For one thing, vintage sizing doesn’t quite dovetail with modern sizing, although there are some helpful, era-specific conversion guides out there for your reference. Jeans, especially, are hard to assess from just one photo — and most shops have a no-return policy — but posts usually provide either measurements or a rough idea of what size frame the piece will fit.
And even if you don’t want to do all your clothes shopping on Instagram (I certainly do not), the vintage Insta rat race is a fun way to simultaneously score a unique piece and feel like you’ve won a carnival game.
Look at this turtleneck sweater! Friends … I’m thinking about it.