3 Tips for buying vintage bags online

Super excited to share my tips and tricks in today’s post after receiving a couple emails about what my research and buying process was like for the vintage Coach City Bag in last week’s post. To be honest, I’m much more of an in-person thrifting kinda gal, but all my lucky thrift finds (like this vintage Coach Stewardess Bag found in Goodwill in 2013) weren’t planned. Whenever I have specific items in mind for trips to the thrift store, I never find them. So, with the Coach Classics line (re)launch to remind me of how beautiful their classic all-leather bags are (but totally out of my current budget), I took my search of a vintage Coach City Bag to the internet.
tips for buying vintage bags online
(photo via Pinterest)

1. Be flexible with style and colour
Although I had my heart set on a Coach City Bag, I also had the Legacy Purse style bookmarked as a second top contender. Price range wise, they were pretty similar when doing some super lightweight, preliminary research in the vintage resale market. Originally, I had set out to find a red bag, hoping that this would be my statement piece for the upcoming Spring and Summer seasons. In the back of my mind, the cognac or mahogany versions would also be good contenders if the red didn’t work out for whatever reason.

Having these backup styles and colours really helped with my search because it gave me options. If I ever got priced out in one style, I could fall back on the other. Similarly with colours, I had such a hard time finding a red one with the right balance of price and condition that I ultimately fell back on my second choice of the cognac. Doing a little bit of research up front for colour options definitely saved my butt from making any impulsive decisions!

2. Have a set budget
It’s so easy to go overboard and want to buy the latest and greatest with all the bells and whistles to boot! If I didn’t have such a strict, self inflicted, shopping budget this year, I might have entertained the thought of buying a new bag from the relaunched Classics line. In reality, $298 was just too steep for me, thus the start of the search for the vintage version of this bag.

Having a strict budget up front will make shopping for the dream vintage bag a bit more challenging, but also rewarding then you finally find the one. By doing the preliminary research to get a feel for the spectrum of what a vintage bag of a certain style sells for, I mentally set my max price and started bookmarking all listings I could find that didn’t exceed the budget. Through this exercise, I was able to quickly learn the condition of bags that fell within my budget and could’ve (but ultimately didn’t) adjusted my max price if I felt that I needed to go up/down a bit to find my dream bag.

3. Research your shopping options
Buying vintage bags online is tough because not all bags will be listed for the same amount(s) on different platforms. Not all shopping platforms will have the same bags for sale. Likewise, not all options will be available at the same time. The beauty of the vintage resale market is that you never know what you’re going to find when you find it! I ended up stalking listings of the Classic City Bag for almost a month before finally deciding to purchase the listing that I did.

To give you a quick idea of the situation I worked with, the Coach Classic City Bag that I purchased had wide spectrums of prices over the following sites I visited (from as low as $20 all the way up to $200+). On average, for the condition of bag I was willing to purchase, here’s what I saw:

  • Ebay: $60 (Buy It Now average)
  • Etsy: $75 (this beauty was my fav!)
  • Poshmark: $50

  • I ended up making my purchase on Poshmark because of the amazing condition of the cognac bag that I found. I ended up missing out on the same bag on Etsy within $2 of my final purchase price on Poshmark because I took too long debating between the two listings. Buying vintage bags online can be tricky because of the sensitive timing, but I think this worked out perfectly given that I have no regrets on buying the bag that I did.

    Hope these tips were helpful! Would love to hear your experiences on buying vintage bags online (or any other wardrobe pieces) and if you have any extra tips to share.


    Fall wardrobe prep: Jackets

    It’s the last full week of August and I can’t help but think about dressing for the Fall. After doing a wardrobe clean out this season and donating over 5 bags of clothing, I decided to put myself on a clothing shopping ban for the next month. It’s pretty embarrassing to admit, but I found almost a bag’s worth full of clothing that I had purchased within the last 3 years where each piece still had tags on it or had only been worn once. Seeing this really put into perspective how wasteful I have been in the past. I used to buy a piece or two extra just to get free shipping when ordering online, and in hindsight I really shouldn’t have. Here we are a year (and then some) later and these items have been sitting in a corner collecting dust. :(

    I’m trying to be better about my spending habits and making the most out of my wardrobe. I’ve put myself on a shopping ban for the last half of August and will reevaluate at the end of September. It sucks because I see all these amazing back to school sales happening right now, but at the same time, I want to make the remainder of my wardrobe that survived the closet purge work for the upcoming season.

    With that said, I saved these 4 jackets (and a couple others which have also been worn on heavy repeat last year on the blog) and will be wearing these exclusively for the next season.

    fall jackets 2015
    1. Michael Kors dual zipper moto jacket (similar)
    2. J.Crew quilted boyfriend jacket (exact, similar)
    3. Calvin Klein asymmetrical zip coat (similar)
    4. Michael Kors asymmetrical zip trench (similar)

    All of these jackets were purchased either off-season or during an end-of-season sale in previous years. Although buying off-season means you might be off trend for upcoming seasons, the savings can be significant. For example, the quilted boyfriend jacket from J Crew was originally part of their Fall 2014 line, but I bought it at the end of the season (during a Black Friday sale) when it went on sale for over 60% off. I absolutely love the style and knew that a military-looking jacket is a hole in my closet that I needed to fill. Since I only got a chance to wear it a handful of times last Fall/Winter before it got too chilly, I’m excited to break it out of storage in the upcoming weeks!

    After buying multiple faux-leather jackets from Forever 21 over the last few years that started to fall apart after a season or two’s worth of wear, I decided to splurge on a proper leather jacket. I ended up buying a similar MK moto jacket to the one above from Nordstrom Rack at the beginning of the summer. It’s awesome to find one-offs on the sale racks and I scooped this up immediately after seeing it from across the aisle. After last year’s purchase of the MK asymmetrical zip trench, I love the fit (and quality) of MK coats and will continue to look for them whenever they’re on sale.

    I can only wish that pairing down the rest of my closet will be as easy as it was for the coats. Finding Fall wardrobe essentials while on a budget is totally doable, and I’ve found the easiest way to do it is to shop off-season.


    Closet cleaning: How to decide what to sell, donate, and discard

    A couple months ago, I did a post on what to do to prep for a wardrobe rebuild and I wanted to go more into detail on what to do with some of the items being purged from a closet. My lovely friend, Kim, opened up her closet to me to help with some Spring cleaning and to use her items as a “sanity check” for some of the tips & trips I’m going to share in this post.


    So now that you’ve pulled all the unwanted items from your closet, how do you decide what to sell, donate, or discard?

    Start by making 3 piles/areas for sorting
    Each pile should correspond to either selling, donating, or discarding. I’m a super visual person, so it helps for me to have everything laid out on the ground to start before forming each of the areas and piles.


    How to decide what to sell
    Crossroads Trading is one of my favourite places to sell to, mainly because their customer base (at least in Seattle) casts a wide spectrum of styles of clothing that they’ll choose to buy. At the tail end of every season, they’ll put out a set of flyers at each store to give customers an idea of what they’re looking to buy for the upcoming season. The card below was put out around the end of February, since their Spring buying started in mid-March. Having a good idea of the direction of items they’re looking for helped to determine which pieces of Kim’s should be added to the “Sell” pile.


    Since closet purges usually aren’t season-specific, Kim had a bunch of pieces that weren’t appropriate to try to sell for the Spring. For all of her Fall/Winter pieces, we made a separate sell pile for her to bring to Crossroads in September. One of the best tricks I learned about selling to Crossroads is to always stay on trend and be season appropriate with the items you bring in. The stores don’t like to have to store inventory for future seasons, so it saves everyone (you, the buyer, etc) time if your haul only has items specific to the season they’re buying for.



    Wardrobe Rebuilding: What to do with those unwanted items?

    Happy Monday!! Oh gosh, I can’t even thank you guys enough for all the kind words and support on the last post on building a minimalist wardrobe this year. All the comments, pins (holy wow, 80+ repins?!), and emails were really awesome and I’m hoping to help answer your questions throughout the year as I feel my way through this process through trial and (probably a lot of) error.

    To prep for this wardrobe rebuild, I started with a closet purge. I’m not going to go into the purging process because there are a handful of really great methods that have been posted by other bloggers in the past. Kendi did a really great post in 2010 with lots of tips and tricks for determining whether or not to keep or purge an item from a closet. I highly recommend reading her list of “rules” if you’re stumped on where to start. So what happens after cleaning out the closet? What are the options for those unwanted items? is the big question I found myself asking a lot last year.


    Above is a sample of the goods that I pulled from my closet in my final purge. Last year’s experiment in style made me realize how much I truly love and constantly gravitate towards neutral solids. While patterns and colours were fun to play around with, I rarely wore an item more than 3 times. As I grow older and want to be more conscious about spending habits, knowing what I like in the clothing department will help me stay focused when shopping. No more rationalizing impulse purchases of neon floral dresses! So what to do with those unwanted items?

    Here are the options I always consider: sell, donate, or trash, in that order. There are pros and cons to each…

    Sell: Online vs Offline
    One big question is Why sell? Not everyone wants to sell their used clothes because it does take more time, patience, and work. I chose to sell so that I could start a piggy bank for the wardrobe rebuild. Purging almost 40% of my closet and then attempting to smartly rebuild it over the next few months is not exactly the most wallet-friendly task.

    Online: There are a lot of options for reselling used clothing in today’s day and age. Poshmark and Twice are popular options today. Poshmark requires you to take your own photos and list the items yourself, but you also get to set your own prices. Twice takes care of all the photo taking, pricing, and shipping, but that also means you need to accept the offer pitched by the Twice team for the value of your items. To be fair, I’ve never used either of these services, but have seen other bloggers praise both!

    Offline: This is my favourite route to go. I am personally a big fan of Crossroads Trading Co because of their aesthetic and selection of items in the shop matching well with mine (aka greater chances they’ll buy my pieces than pass on them). Other options are Buffalo Exchange, Beacon’s Closet, or locally owned consignment shops. A big pro of selling offline is getting rid of multiple items at once, but that also means only being able to bring seasonal items in to sell. I usually bring bags of goods once a season, even if I’m sorting the items in my “discard pile” constantly throughout the year. One con of going this route is that it highly depends on the buyer at the store to decide if there’s a style fit for your items in their shop, and the purchase price they will take your item for. I’ve been doing this for a year now and am starting to get the hang of what to look for when putting items into the “for Crossroads” pile each season so that 90% of my haul gets purchased by the shop girls.

    When items get passed on from the selling route, I’ll donate them. If you decide to not sell and donate a large amount of items, one pro is getting a tax deduction. I usually pass on the tax deduction, but this is helpful to keep in mind for large donations!

    Ok, I guess there aren’t many pros to this one. Honestly, I only ever consider this option for clothing items that are not in good condition. For a piece that’s extremely worn out or has holes that can’t be fixed, I’ll put this in the trash pile. It saves time for those at donation centers from having to sort through the unwearable pieces.

    Is anyone else rebuilding their wardrobe this year? I would love to hear about your experiences with any of the above!

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