You need to have a lot of determination, stamina and free time to enter a thrift store and emerge successful with a handful of clothes. You also need the rare ability to spot a designer gem sandwiched in between a graphic T-shirt and a well-worn hoodie. Thankfully, there's a new wave of online vintage shops — many of which were born on Instagram — that'll do all the sartorial digging and curation for you. This way, you still get the thrill of scoring a one-of-a-kind silk blouse without the hassle of sorting through piles and racks of oddly-fitting, ill-kept garments.
Whether you're in the market for a cropped mesh tank or sheer dress from the '90s, or you'd like to scoop up a '70s-style flare pant, read on to discover eight of the best vintage shops the internet has to offer.
Downhouse is an Atlanta-based, LGBTQI-owned online vintage boutique that specializes in curating eclectic, brightly colored wares from decades past. The shop is known for its unlikely outfit pairings – think a lilac chiffon puff-sleeve nightgown from the '60s draped over honeydew-tinted high-rise trousers from the '90s — and champions inclusivity in everything it does. "We view our clothing as non-gendered, and we strive to represent diversity within our imagery," says co-founders Annie Grapek and Logan Rhodes. "When sourcing we focus on colors, comfort and shape. Our selection tends to veer toward high-quality fabrics and construction that has stood the test of time."
Price range: $34-$132
Shop at: Downhouse
With its selection of super-feminine shirts, effortless linen separates and wedding-ready silks, Elia Vintage has a hard time keeping its one-of-a-kind products in stock. The site drops new garments daily, many of which are easily wearable minimalist staples done in soft taupes. But while beige blazers are plentiful, finding an eye-catching crimson wrap dress and an orange skirt is not out of the ordinary; neither is scoring a high-end designer find, like a hot pink Christian Dior mini-skirt.
Price range: $48-$210
Shop at: Elia Vintage
I Am That
Based in Portland, I Am That excels at tapping into the sartorial potential of a long-forgotten zebra-print Betsey Johnson dress or a buttery leather Y2K jacket. The store, with its surplus of bold blouses and tie-dye cotton tees, caters to fashion folks who crave simple, easy clothes that still feel cool. On the accessories front, you'll find everything from a reasonably priced powder blue Prada bag to a vintage Kate Spade moss green tote. The footwear section is especially noteworthy: There, you'll see rare Stuart Weitzman boots interspersed with tangerine patent leather slides and brand new metallic wedges by Maryam Nassir Zadeh.
Price range: $32-$400
Shop at: I Am That
Launched two years ago by best friends Ariane de Béchade and Camille Gabbi, Imparfaite Paris wants to make vintage shopping an alternative to fast fashion. To do this, the online marketplace partners with professional vintage sellers in France — mainly owners of thrift stores and quality sales depots — to find pieces with unique character. The majority of the inventory is priced below 100 euros, save for a couple of luxury designer pieces from labels like Givenchy and Céline. The pre-loved clothes on sale are the sort you would find on modern day French muses like Anne-Laure Mais and Jeanne Damas. There are floral frocks, delicate corsets, beaded bags and perfectly worn-in Levi's.
Price range: $44-$500
Shop at: Imparfaite Paris
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Photographer Lucia Zolea's Instagram is a perpetual spring moodboard of all things pretty. It's a covetable aesthetic and one you can buy thanks to her website, which sells a curated selection of vintage jewelry and embroidered dresses. Many of her products look like ruffled and pleated leftovers from a grandmother who had exquisite taste. The site also boasts an impressive number of artsy baubles, including an array of statement pearl collars and glass pendants.
Price range: $82-$520
Shop at: Lucia Zolea
Na Nin has an approachable and charming collection of vintage clothes; the oversize tunics, relaxed fit pants and chunky cable knits have a lived-in quality similar to that of a cherished hand-me-down from your mom or dad. It's the kind of stuff you dig for at thrift stores and vintage shops, but are only lucky enough to find every once in a while. The silk button-ups — which are frequently styled with high-waisted jeans and a big belt, along with many of the checkered blazers, resemble popular designer duds straight from current runways.
Price range: $26-$88
Shop at: Na Nin
Studio Travel, a vintage boutique based in Copenhagen, handpicks pieces from Italy and France with a focus on unique detailing. "The aesthetic is inspired by a collective of references from art and music to history and culture," reads the website's description. "A taste of storied Italian fashion blended with Scandinavian modern simplicity." The resulting inventory spotlights archival treasures from Gucci, Moschino, Versace, Emilio Pucci and Prada, along with classic pieces from Ralph Lauren and Hermès.
Price range: $37-$400
Shop at: Studio Travel
Subrina Heyink, who grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, moved to the U.S. to live with her mother and go to college for chemistry, but eventually dropped out and became a stylist. Three years later, she opened her own eponymous vintage store, where you can now find almost too-good-to-be true prices on designer pieces — like a Valentino bodysuit for $80. You can also find conversation-making wedges and art deco-inspired chokers.
Price range: $40-$440
Shop at: Subrina Heyink
Homepage photo: Christian Vierig/Getty Images