Vintage Sweaters │ How to Bring Vintage Sweaters into Your Wardrobe

Four women's vintage sweaters in a row
Vintage sweaters and cardigans might be the easiest way to bring vintage into your wardrobe, especially if you're just beginning to dabble in the world of slow fashion.

Why is this so? Sweaters and cardigans are a staple of any wardrobe as well as the easiest to take off if you're not feeling inspired by them.

I happen to love sweaters. Like, more than I should. I've sold hundreds of vintage sweaters in my Etsy shop. I only sell what I like and what I would wear.

This also, unfortunately for me, means I get to handle and hold, look at, and admire, every single sweater I put up as a listing in my shop. This leads to me wanting to try the sweater on, which inevitably leads to me wanting the sweater.

And ultimately, on a great day, this means I end up keeping the sweater.

The first rule of selling vintage: Never try on the vintage. 

Why? Because so often we vintage sellers want to keep the item for ourselves. It's a little difficult to sell vintage when most of the vintage ends up in our own closets! That's a hard way to make a living.

I try to eschew the call of the sweaters, but it's hard. It's doubly hard for me because as a taller woman, I fit men's small sweaters and cardigans perfectly. 

But, I digress. Let's talk about vintage sweaters and why they're great for your wardrobe whether you're a vintage expert wearer or a novice. 

Vintage sweaters are quality: The contrast between vintage wool and cotton versus today's materials is incredibly obvious. The type of wool - and the way it was processed - changed. Quality went out the window and quantity (for manufacturers) became front and center. The bottom line is their concern, rather than quality sweaters that would last a lifetime. Not to mention, most American-sold items used to be made in the USA. 

That's a dinosaurian requirement anymore. Everything is made outside of the USA now because... let's all say it together: it's cheaper to make. Check out the wool from a 1970s simple sweater to one today. Not even comparable. With vintage sweaters or cardigans, you're getting quality that will literally last a lifetime if you take care of it, instead of a pilly piece of garbage by a chain retailer.

Vintage sweaters are unique: This may be one of the best parts: most vintage sweaters are one-of-a-kind, That's because so many items get worn and lost to time, or they're hidden in the deep recesses of closets all over vintage homes in America. 

Because of that, the older the sweater, the more rare it is, which means it's something very few people will be wearing. I have yet to run into someone wearing the same vintage sweater as me. It just doesn't happen. Which I'm more than happy with. Be unique; be you. Wear a vintage sweater proudly.

Vintage sweaters are perennial: As you know by now, vintage clothing is synonymous with classic clothing. Now, I will say as a sidenote that some sweaters from the 1980s should never, ever see the light of day again. The sequins, or horrible contrast of colors... yeah. I lived through that era, and when I see ones from the '80s, I have to turn away before I get sick. But, there are plenty of classic sweaters and Caridgan from the '80s that weren't this way. Think LL Bean, J. Crew, or Eddie Bauer.

A stack of sweaters
Rogue designers wanted to get creative and the whole out-of-control pattern, and mixing of media on the sweater, from puffy paint to jewelry, to leather and wool mixes, took a giant zig-zag into the chart of American clothing. People decided it looked good. I didn't. Some of you may love this style. Great. More power to you, those sweaters are out there. Feel free to get your '80s on - I just can't look at it. 

It comes down to this: Buy less but buy better quality. You may pay a bit more for the vintage sweater, but think about what you're getting! You're getting something that is at least 20+ years old and something that will last decades more because of the quality and its classic style.

Also, vintage sweaters are diverse. We have lightweight to heavy-weight sweaters; some are a little more formal, others more rugged and meant for the outdoors. 

So, how do you go about finding these vintage sweaters? Vintage sweaters are easiest to find in thrift stores because thrift stores are always available. But, I'd highly recommend garage sales and estate sales. There is serious vintage treasure to be found at estate sales. And if you don't want to leave the house, I'd highly recommend Etsy (and eBay) to find the perennially perfect vintage sweater you're looking for.

Check out my Etsy shop to see what I'm talking about. I sell sweaters all the time, year-round. I only sell sweaters I would wear myself, or think is top-notch quality. I've found, worn, and sold dozens and dozens of sweaters through the last few decades, all found in thrift stores and estate sales. I have only about 10 today in my wardrobe. I'm happy to say I've pared down to only what I truly love.

The problem is I fall in love with new vintage sweaters all the time. Alas, something I'll just have to live with being the proverbial thorn in my side that it is.

But don't take my word for it on why vintage sweaters are so marvelous. Do your own research. Peruse thrift stores and see how distinctly different vintage materials are from today. You can literally see it, you don't even have to touch the item. 

Sweaters are easy to add on to an outfit, as they are removable. If you want to find a way to add vintage to your life, start with vintage sweaters. 

Happy hunting! 

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