With the rise in popularity of all things ethical and sustainable, as well as fashion's constant reimagining of bygone eras - it's no wonder that vintage fashion is having it's biggest boom ever!
And of course, it's not only the most ethical way of shopping for new clothes and accessories - it's also a guaranteed way of finding amazing, unique pieces no one else will have, and you can find beautiful preloved and vintage to suit literally any budget.
Living in the depths of Cornwall, we often miss out on big events, but now Covid is finally moving over so our social lives can get in the spotlight, festivals, parties, events, and Vintage Kilo Sales are popping up left, right and chelsea all over the country!
So before we get down to the nitty gritty, what the hell is a kilo sale?
Well, it's pretty much exactly what it says on the tin - it's a sale of vintage clothing where, instead of paying per item like in a shop or store, you pay per kilo! Most kilo sales I've been to (UK based) charge between £15-£20 per kilo, but they vary across the country. They usually take place in a large building or venue - I've been to ones in theatres, warehouses, and even a cathedral - and have thousands of pieces of vintage and preloved items from all different eras, at all different sizes.
The beauty of kilo sales, is you can find incredible labels and pieces at a fraction of what you'd find them for in stores and online - a denim jacket weighs between 800g-1kg, but a silk scarf can weight less than 100g. I recommend grabbing your kitchen scales and weigh a few pieces from your own wardrobe to get an idea of just how inexpensive your favourite items can be!
Now you know what a kilo sale is, let's chat HACKS and how to get the most from your local Vintage Kilo Sale...
1. To early bird or not to early bird?
Almost all Vintage Kilo Sales require a ticket on entry - this is so they can stop the events becoming over crowded. Some are free to get in, and some charge between £2-£5, and often the earlier your entry time, the more it'll cost. They do this so that the "early birds" can get first picks of all those vintage goodies!
In my experience, they almost all keep bringing out fresh vintage through the day, so getting in super early isn't always worth it - and because people tend to get the early bird tickets first, it's often the busiest session of the day. So whilst being early doesn't always guarantee you the best stock, it sometimes does guarantee more competition!
However - one thing that is always important is to get there right at the beginning of your session. If your session is 11-1, get there at 11 - why? Because...
2. Take your time!
Following on from point one, one of the most important hacks is to BE PATIENT and TAKE YOUR TIME. There will likely be thousands and thousands of garments in that sale, and the best way to strike gold is to go through every single rail. It's a big job, and it takes time and patience but I promise, it will be worth it.
Set aside at least a couple of hours, get there early, take a bottle of water and have a wee before you get in. The longer you're there, the higher your chances of finding those perfect vintage pieces!
3. She's writing a list, she's checking it twice...
Sorry, bit early for that isn't it? But in all honest, have a list of things your wardrobe needs - over consumption is never cool, even with sustainable clothing - and buying things you won't wear is not only a waste of your money, but you could be taking someone's dream piece away from them just to gather dust in the bottom of your wardrobe...
Write a list of the kinds of pieces you're lacking. Need something to wear for an upcoming wedding? Pop "formal dresses" on your list. Winter approaching and you're feeling the chill? Write down winter coat. Of course, you might fall in love with something not on your list and that's totally cool, but don't go all Supermarket Sweep on us please!
4. Budget carefully and weigh on the reg!
Few of us have the disposable income to not budget at all, and I've learnt the hard way at vintage sales that it's easy to spend beyond your means! Nothing worse than the chick at the till telling you it's cost 5 times what you expected.
Most sales will have scales dotted around so you can weigh your haul as you go, meaning you can keep an eye on the cost of your trip. So pick a budget, weigh before you go to pay, and it'll save any unwanted surprises at the checkout.
5. Check labels, fabrics - AND care instructions!
It's imperitive that when you come across something you like, before you do anything else check the labels. Ensure the size (if stated) is in the right realm for you, have a geek to see the brand to help you judge the era and the value of the piece and check the fabric and care instructions.
No one wants to get home and realise that amazing top with the stain on is dry clean only, or accidentally pick up a whole bag of sweat inducing polyester pieces for their summer holiday...
Check the label in the neck or waistband for brand and sizing, and check the label down the inside of the side seams for care instructions and additional information - they won't always have labels depending on age, but if they do, utilise them!
6. Try it on for size!
As beautiful as those gorgeous 1970's tailored trousers look on the hanger, if they won't do up, they're no good - so where possible, try on everything you need to! It can totally transform a "not sure" item into a "must have", and a useful styling item can become utterly useless if it doesn't properly fit!
Some sales don't have changing rooms, so go prepared: try to wear something tight and light that you can try items over - something like a t shirt and cycle shorts is great so you can slip other items over the top without exposing yourself!
Alternatively, before you leave, find your favourite fitting items, measure them flat and make a note of those measurements, and take those and your tape measure with you. Lay out all possible purchases on the floor and measure them and compare to your notes - and if you love something and it's a little too big, don't forget...
7. Tailoring is always an option!
Sure, even the best tailor in the world can't magic up extra waistband inches, but they can add darts in waistbands and dresses to fit your figure, take up hemlines, and shorten sleeves so that those pre-loved vintage gems can look as if they were made for you!
Some vintage sales will have a seamstress on hand to do alterations for an extra cost, but it's worth having a browse online before you go and getting some quotes to see who locally to you can do it, possibly for a better price! (Often haberdasheries, fabric stores, dry cleaners and cobblers will offer tailoring in store, so go ask in your local small businesses!)
8. "Take it out of the shop"
This is a tip from my mum, who has always been a secondhand bargain shopping queen. Whenever we used to go shopping when I was younger, and I'd see something I wasn't sure about, she'd tell me to "take it out of the shop". This doesn't mean literally taking it out - that's stealing my friend, and not what we're about! Nope, it means, imagine it not in your current surroundings. Imagine if you saw this 50p chazza shop shirt in All Saints, would you want it then? Imagine it with your favourite jeans at a BBQ, imagine it hung in your wardrobe, freshly laundered, imagine it on the gram on your favourite influencer.
As a human it's so easy for our judgement to be clouded by our surroundings - we've all bought a shell necklace on holiday, got home, and realised we look ridiculous - so try to imagine things in a different environment, in a familiar environment, when making a decision.
9. Take a friend and HAVE FUN!
The best thing about kilo sales is how much fun they are. You'll find some amazing pieces, some grim pieces, and some outright hilarious ones! Take your favourite vintage loving friend to help you pick out gorgeous pieces, and tag team rails - sometimes, they'll spot something you overlooked that's actual perfection!
Plan it as a day out - including coffee beforehand for shopping buzz energy, and a cocktail after to unwind. They can be busy, chaotic and a little stressful, but going in prepared and with a bestie can make it feel like a fashion festival!
So, there's my top tips for striking vintage gold at your local kilo sale - I hope you can take some of these with you to your next kilo sale trip, or even your next charity shop run or vintage shopping days - a lot of the hacks apply to all kinds of second hand shopping!