Kat Collings, our esteemed editor in chief, can make a $15 vintage find look designer like that—and I recently decided it was time to prod her for her secrets. As someone who’s always ready to shop at a moment’s notice, Kat tells me to meet her Friday morning on La Brea at The Way We Wore, a veritable institution where in-the-know Angelenos regularly score designer pieces in tip-top shape.
Kat arrives wearing a typically effortless pink-on-pink look with her go-to Vans UltraRange, ready to adorn herself with vintage jewelry finds (and show me exactly how it’s done). “My ideal outfit for vintage shopping has to be comfortable. If you’re going to really dig for gems, you don’t want anything fussy holding you up,” she tells me as I fumble about in my heeled boots. (Oops, I’ve already failed the first test.) Watch the video of our vintage adventure, and keep reading for Kat’s best vintage shopping tips.
First things first: I was so overwhelmed with the amount of beautifully merchandised jewelry at the store that I didn’t know where to start. After pointing me in the right direction, Kat tells me she starts by hunting down pieces that look like they have a story behind them. “That’s one of my favorite things about vintage: These pieces have led multiple lives. I love to imagine the previous owners and where they might have worn the piece.” And with that advice in mind, I began my search.
“I usually look for Etruscan-inspired jewelry and Victorian-era charms and lockets,” Kat mentions when I ask her what styles she usually looks for. In case you were wondering what Etruscan-inspired jewelry is, think bold and gold (very ’90s supermodel). I start thinking about what I would narrow in on if I was a resident vintage shopper, and then I spot what look like ’90s Chanel pendant earrings out of the corner of my eye. I want them.
Kat has some sage advice for me (and for all you newbie vintage shoppers out there): “It’s easy to get caught up in the fantasy of statement jewelry, so before making a purchase, I’ll do a reality check to make sure it actually goes with my style. I’ve learned it’s okay to appreciate that dramatic collar necklace and lovingly bid it adieu, knowing that I’ll never wear it. Also, if earrings are too heavy, that’s a no-go for me. Besides being uncomfortable, no one likes a saggy lobe!”
As for what to wear when you’re going to spend a day digging through racks? “My ideal outfit for vintage shopping has to be comfortable,” she says, adding that sneakers are a must. “Right now, my style of choice is this mint-green pair from Vans. I like that you can dress them up with a slip skirt and sweater or go more casual with jeans and tee.” I immediately buy a pair for myself, because if I can’t be a pro vintage shopper just yet, at least I can get my hands on the perfect sneakers.
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