How To Properly Vintage Shop, With Sami Miro

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Usually when someone’s answer to “What do you do?” involves multiple clauses and hyphens, it means one of two things: They're indecisive or just seriously multi-faceted that to confine themselves to just one arena would deprive the world of some much needed creativity. In the case of Sami Miro, marketing-nerd-turned-model-turned-vintage-curator-and-personal-stylist, it's certainly well-grounded in the latter. Raised on a college campus in San Francisco, she fell so in love with vintage hunting enough to turn it into part of her career (unsurprisingly, when you learn her father was a professor with a Master's in global entrepreneurship). And when you've been collecting bits of clothing history since you were a teen, your collection can get relatively massive—or is it archival? Now that she lives in LA, Sami lends hers out to style music videos, films, photoshoots, and even individual clients' wardrobes. Now, if any kind of shopping has the ability to impart some serious FOMO, it is of the vintage variety, so Sami was kind enough to pass along some tips for those chasing the dragon that is pristine, straight from the '70s Halston, or whatever else floats your consignment boat.

EXPERIMENT WITH YOUR STYLE

'My style used to go through major transitions, whether it was bringing in new color to my wardrobe or being in a phase of a specific kind of shoe, jacket, material, or hang or something like that. But now, I feel like because I have this collection of clothes that I love so much…I have an identified style. Even though the pieces are really different, it’s like, ‘OK, that’s Sami’s style.’ It’s like a runway show. Every piece is different, but when you see it all together, it makes sense.”

FIGURE OUT YOUR BUDGET AND PICK A STORE ACCORDINGLY

'There are two kinds of vintage stores today. There’s your What Goes Around Comes Around type of store, which has amazing pieces. You know when you go there, it’s all authentic vintage, as opposed to a knockoff. But that's quite expensive for the average person. The other kind of vintage, which I would say is like Jet Rag, is kind of a gem because it’s a massive store with racks and racks of clothes, and it’s also very affordable.”

KNOW WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR

'If you’re going for the more affordable route, you kind of have to be prepared to go through piles of clothes. What’s important before you go there is to have an idea of what you want. Is it jackets you are looking for or t-shirts? Just be prepared to focus your attention on that one section in a huge store like that.”

DON’T LOOK AT SIZES

'You have to try on a lot of stuff. When you’re going vintage shopping, it’s all about trying it on and seeing how it works. Fit and sizes were really different back then. When I shop vintage, I don’t ever look at sizes. Ever. Because to me, it’s all about the hang of everything. That’s honestly the most important thing in my wardrobe and styling. I think that’s one of the best things about vintage t-shirts—the fabric is so worn, so thin, and hangs so perfectly. When you’re getting a vintage shirt, jacket, or something, you don’t ever have to look at the size because you just put it on and see how it hangs on you.”

REMEMBER THAT MOST ITEMS CAN BE ALTERED TO FIT

'I think it’s always worth it to tailor your stuff. If it doesn’t fit perfectly but you love the color or fabric, or it’s just a fun, unique piece that you probably are not going to find anywhere else, just go to a great tailor and make it last forever.”

DON’T SKIP GOODWILL

'I think what’s really great about thrift stores like Goodwill is the fact that you’ll go and some stuff is really total garbage, but you can always find gems if you look. Again, it’s all about being patient and digging until you find something. If you’re on a budget, it doesn’t mean that you have to wear some generic stuff from Forever 21. Go to Goodwill and find some really cool unique things. People of all economic categories donate things to Goodwill, and it shows. Go to a Goodwill closest to the fanciest neighborhood, and you’ll find some amazing stuff.”

—as told to ITG

Photographed by Nate Walton. For more vintage tips, read How To Buy (Good) Vintage Clothing On The Internet.