The rising vintage and secondhand fashion movement has been credited to everything from its budget friendliness to a collective shift toward more earth-conscious shopping habits—not to mention the incomparable thrill of scoring a one-of-a-kind find.
Vintage shopping may seem daunting, so it’s best to start with a general idea of what you’re looking for and seek out pieces that catch your eye and reflect your personal style.
Curious about giving vintage a try? Whether you’re new to the secondhand scene or a seasoned pro, here’s how to shop it and where to find it in the Twin Cities.
Where to Go
If you’re looking for something truly special, my favorite vintage store in the Twin Cities is The Golden Pearl Vintage (507A Hennepin Ave. E., Mpls., 612-378-3978, thegoldenpearlvintage.com). The shop carries some of the finest-quality vintage in town for all genders from the ’20s to the ’90s, curated with the expert eye of owner Audra Frizzell, who’s often on hand to make recommendations.
Some other favorite spots for special, finer pieces include AudreyRose Vintage (2237 E. 38th St., Mpls., 612-822-2009, @audreyrosevintage), offering a highly curated, well-maintained collection of finer dresses and separates; Go Vintage (995 W. 7th St., St. Paul, 651-646-4455, govintageshop.com), a destination especially for pieces from the ’20s through the ’50s; Lula Vintage Wear (1587 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651-644-4110, lulavintagemn.com), which stocks some of the best dresses and coats in town; and June (5027 France Ave. S., Mpls., 612-354-3970, juneresale.com) for a selection of designer vintage. For more casual looks, check out the nostalgic, cozy finds of Tandem Vintage (316 W. 38th St., Mpls., tandemvintage.com) and Moth Oddities (2201 NE 2nd St., Mpls., mothoddities.com), whose finds are sourced from across the U.S. and Italy.
Plus, don’t miss the monthly Minneapolis Vintage Market, which hosts up to 40 rotating vendors (mplsvintagemarket.com). Tip: Bring a sturdy tote to make it easier to carry home your haul.
What to Look for
Fabric and quality are key—you can tell a lot about a garment by feeling it and reading the garment tag. (I favor natural fibers, like 100 percent wool, cotton, silk, linen, and leather.) At the end of the day, it’s all about the thrill of the hunt. Sometimes that means scoring big, and sometimes you’ll go home empty-handed.
How to Style Vintage
When it comes to wearing vintage, don’t pair matchy-matchy pieces from the same decade or you’ll look like you’re wearing a period costume. I recommend starting with a single vintage piece paired with something modern from your wardrobe. As you get more comfortable wearing vintage, combine items from different decades for a more contemporary look.
Purchases & Returns
While most stores accept credit cards, some market vendors prefer apps like Venmo, Cash App, or PayPal, so come to markets prepared with multiple forms of payment. (And remember: Cash is king.) Know the return policy—most vintage stores accept returns, but sellers at markets typically do not, so be sure you love an item before committing. My rule of thumb: If you’re on the fence, walk away. If you can’t stop thinking about it, go back and grab it before someone else does.
Unlike a department store or boutique, you won’t find garments in full size ranges—think of everything as one of a kind. Ignore the size listed on the tag; sizing conventions have changed so much over the decades that you cannot rely on them. Trying on items is key—when attending a pop-up market like the monthly Minneapolis Vintage Market, it’s a good idea to bring a measuring tape and wear a fitted layer under your clothing to easily try on items if fitting rooms are scarce.
Mending & Alterations
Look closely for holes, missing buttons, or other damage that you may be able to repair yourself or bring to a tailor. If you fall in love with something but it doesn’t fit quite right, consider getting it altered. Bringing up a hem or taking in a blouse can do a lot to make a vintage garment look more flattering and modern.
Vintage clothing must be cleaned more carefully than modern clothing. Only machine-wash vintage clothing that has machine-washing instructions on the label. For everything else, hand-wash or dry-clean.
Gen Z Appeal
Having grown up in an era of eco-conscious shopping, the Gen Zers have embraced vintage shopping in a way previous generations didn’t. They typically favor pieces from the ’70s through the ’90s, as well as the Y2K era (styles from the late ’90s and early to mid-2000s).
If you’re going shopping with your favorite zoomer, definitely make a stop at Legacy (3406 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls., 612-545-7470, shopthelegacy.com). Owner Ruby Stinson (daughter of June owner Daune Stinson, who previously occupied the storefront) has tapped her decade of experience working in luxury retail to curate the store with a fresh mix of elegantly luxe and casual-cool pieces from the ’80s to the early 2000s, including vintage denim and some higher-end vintage designer pieces.
Some other top spots offering a mix of on-trend, affordable vintage that Gen Z will love include Rewind Vintage (2852 NE Johnson St., Mpls., 612-788-9870, rewindminneapolis.com), Everyday People Clothing Exchange (1599 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651-644-4410, everydaypeopleclothing.com), and a couple of new shops run by zoomers themselves, Daily Dose Retro (953 W. 7th St., St. Paul, @dailydoseretro) and Scooter Gang Vintage (2496 University Ave. W., St. Paul, @scootergangvintage).
The biggest consortium of Gen Z vintage is the Twin Cities Vintage Fest, a massive market with more than 100 vendors that happens a few times a year in the Twin Cities (tcvintagefest.com).
More Vintage Sellers
There are a ton of small local vintage brands (many without traditional brick-and-mortar stores) that you can find on Instagram and popping up at vintage markets. Many have story sales on their Instagram—a blink-and-you-miss-it drop of their latest finds. Here are a few:
>>Read our Guide to Vintage and Antiques Shops in the Twin Cities