Sizing: Over the years dress measurements have stretched to match average body measurements. In other words ignore vintage sizes and either try on or measure.
To avoid dressing room drama, dress in close fitting layers so you can easily pull pretties on and off if a fitting room is not at hand.
Also remember to favor too big over too small. Larger sizes can usually be reduced and tailored depending on the construction and fragility of the garment. The seam allowances of smaller sizes however rarely have enough extra fabric to accommodate additional flesh.
If purchasing online or shopping without options to don the apparel, compare your body measurements to the garment measurements.
First, take your measurements (bust, waist, hip, arm circumference, arm length, and shoulder to knee length). To measure and compare a garment, lay it flat on a solid surface and use a quality measuring instrument constructed of fiberglass or flexible tape. Measure the full circumference of the garment’s bustline, waistline, hipline, sleeve opening, sleeve length, and hem length). Hunt for garments which have slightly larger measurements than your lovely frame. If the fabric has stretch, you’ll need less ease, but as many vintage garments are not blends add up to 3 inches at the bust, approximately 1 inch in the waist, and 2 or so inches at the hip.
Condition/Cleaning: Use unadulterated sunlight to select fabrics that are in pristine condition. Some stains are fickle, but count on most to be stubborn. Most of these soilings have had their way for years, and aren’t willing to relocate. The same goes for odiferous smells.
Next, inspect meticulously for holes, tears, loose buttons, and sticky zippers. Rips along a seam are easy to fix with a needle and thread, but threadbare patches are futile rehabilitation efforts. Ideally the apparel hardware like zippers and buttons should be intact and functioning, but these items can usually be replaced. However, have a button replacement plan in mind before committing to your well-storied acquisition. Fading may be rectified by dyeing the garment, but ensure that said garment is a natural fiber that will accept coloring.
Also only buy an item with an imperfection if you can alter the pretty to avoid the sticky wicket altogether: dying, hemming, or tailoring could remove the mark from the equation. Otherwise, leave your possible friend on the rack.
Finally, once you bring your purchases home, be sure to mix your antiquated items with avante-garde acquisitions. Too much vintage can add up to a somewhat frumpy, grandmotherly closet raiding. Mixing in a singular vintage piece lets this gem of history twinkle against the cut of a modern world.