Our Experts' Guide to Scoring Vintage Gems
Fashion

Our Experts' Guide to Scoring Vintage Gems

How two vintage queens find one-of-a-kind, wardrobe-making pieces: Sami Miró and J.J. Martin tell all.

The actual types of shoppers are myriad, but they roughly fall into two camps: those who love the thrill of the hunt, and those who prefer to thrive on the instant-gratification of shopping. Even if you fall in the latter camp, there's no denying the feeling of coming across a true, can't-find-anything-like-it-anywhere-else vintage score. It's something that's been on our mind as of late, given that we've recently raided the homes of two aficionados who, while they sit a extreme ends of the spectrum style-wise, are equally well-versed in not only the thrill of the hunt, but the art of it, too. So we (somewhat selfishly) consulted J.J. Martin and Sami Miró to school us on how they score.

 


J.J. Martin

FOUNDER, LADOUBLEJ.COM; EDITOR-AT-LARGE, WALLPAPER* MAGAZINE; CONTRIBUTOR, WSJ MAGAZINE


 

JJ Martin

"LaDoubleJ.com is without a doubt my favorite [place to shop for vintage], of course! But I also love Sielian’s Vintage in L.A. and my dealer friend Enrico Quinto in Rome who has an enormous collection of more than 3,000 garments.

 

I hate vintage shoes! That may have to do with my size 10 feet (most vintage shoes are tiny). I always go to the dress section first. I’m a bit of dress-obsessed. I rarely wear pants so this is my daily uniform. And then I go to the jewelry—especially anything by my favorite Italian designer, Ugo Correani.

 

Whether I’m shopping online or in a store, I whip through the looks very quickly. As I flip through, my eye rests only on the prints, patterns and special fabrics. This is the most important thing to me. If I like the material then I’ll stop and look at the shape of the garment. I never look at anything that’s all black. It’s like the death star in a vintage shop for me. If you’re new to vintage, it can indeed be very overwhelming. It’s better to go to a place that has already curated the good stuff for you. That’s what we do on LaDoubleJ.com—along with showing it on real women and mixed with new clothes, which makes it modern.

 

"I never look at anything that’s all black. It’s like the death star in a vintage shop for me."

 

My favorite eras are the 1960s and 1970s. I find that they have the most special fabrics and the boldest coolest prints and patterns. I also love the handwork and patterns you find the 1930s and 40s, especially from no-name Italian tailoring ateliers.

 

I love Oscar de la Renta from the 1960s and 1970s. Valentino in the 1970s was an absolute god. And anything, anything, anything from YSL. We’re gathering together a large amount of YSL pieces that we’ll be posting online in mid-September.

 

You should always ask for a discount when you’re physically in a store and in front of the owner. This is hard for Americans to get their heads around! But after living in Italy for 15 years (where they are shameless negotiators on everything from their couches to their carpentry work), I’m completely ruthless.

 

 

Never go vintage shopping with a to-do list. The vintage gods hate that. You’ll never find what you want. Relinquish control for an hour and let fate and serendipity be your guides. Or, just make it easier and go to LaDoubleJ.com where we’ve done the dirty work for you. 

 

"After living in Italy for 15 years (where they are shameless negotiators on everything from their couches to their carpentry work), I’m completely ruthless."

 

I totally [tailor my pieces after purchase]. It’s very common. Sizing is often an issue with vintage garments, so you need a good tailor on hand. It’s always easier to take something in than to make it larger…"

 

Sami MirÓ

VINTAGE CURATOR, DESIGNER


 

Sami Miro“My personal style is full of juxtapositions. I pair things that wouldn't traditionally go together. Too much of one style is boring. Cutesy with grungy. Sexy with masculine. Sixties with contemporary. There is also a lot of curated vintage and male clothing involved too.”

"My favorite vintage stores are the ones that make you dig and dig and dig for hours. They’re the best, because when you find a gem, the time and energy it took to find it makes it that much more special. Flea markets are great too for that reason.

 

"When it comes to vintage, I’m not a brand whore."

 

I always find myself in the vintage t-shirt section. Their severe distress make them one of a kind. They each have a different story and look so I never want to miss out on a special one.

 

If you aren’t like me (i.e don’t love digging through the havoc) I would suggest tackling the store one section at a time. Maybe even before you enter, take a deep breath and figure out what you're looking to find: tees, jackets, shoes, pants, et cetera. Piece of cake.

 

I look for fabric that is perfectly worn in. The kind of look and feel that’s impossible to recreate because it had to have been around for decades to look like it does. In a good way.

 

When it comes to vintage, I’m not a brand whore. It’s all about the look, feel, hang, wear and tear. But when I’m feeling brand-y, I go with CHANEL.

 

When you bargain, never sound eager, be chill. Act like you don’t even want the piece in the first place.

 

If you know what you want, then half the battle is over. Email me and I’ll locate it for you. Or you can also use eBay. 

 

I’m actually working on a vintage clothing line right now and everything will be tailored to suit the contemporary human. So yes, tailoring is key.

 

Everything I find is the best thing I’ve ever found!"

 

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