How Stylists and Fashion Editors Find Special Designer Pieces No One Else Has

We're rounding up some of the best online vintage shops the Internet has to offer.

This Is How I Find Special Designer Pieces No One Else Has
Photo: Getty Images

Over the years, we've shared a handful of fashion secrets, from the expert-approved tricks that will help enhance your outfits to the ways to shop some super secret sales. But, when it comes to helping you find the best online thrift stores, we'll fully admit we were hesitant to spill. After all, these are the places that celebrities, their stylists, and well-dressed fashion editors love to frequent, allowing them to scoop up rare clothing items and accessories that both suit the current trends and feel unique to their personal style. A lot of the time, it's a full-on race to click, DM, or autofill your info before someone else can beat you to it, and the more people who follow along and obsessively peruse like us, the slimmer our chances are of snagging that dream bag, dress, or piece of jewelry.

However, we're also of the mindset that sharing is caring, and that is fashion is supposed to be fun. There's really enough to go around for everyone — especially when the list of places to shop for unique vintage finds is this long. Ahead, we're rounding up a few of our favorite vintage places to shop online, breaking it down by category for easy access.

The Luxury Favorites

If your main goal here is to find designer items that are gently used or — gah! — still have tags on them, your best best is to visit luxury fashion favorites such as The Real Real, Rebag, or 1stdibs. It may take a bit of digging, but these sites hold pages and pages of items that are no doubt celeb-worthy, like those Prada sandals you've had your eye on or the Louis Vuitton tote of your dreams. However, be warned: just because it's secondhand doesn't mean it's heavily discounted. In fact, if a piece is kind of rare (which is 1stdibs' specialty), you might just be shelling out thousands to make it part of your collection.

E-commerce writer Laura Reilly is also partial to Vestiaire Collective.

"When I'm on the prowl for fashion that falls outside the everyday, I turn to the preeminent platform for collectors' items and investment pieces: Vestiaire Collective," she says. "This peer-to-peer marketplace has connected me with some of my favorite, most lifetime-worthy pieces, from a Paco Rabanne disc dress to a Chanel logo bikini to a knee-high Margiela tabi boots. Better yet, it's saved me from losing money to knockoffs and quality fails through its authentication service."

Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

The Search-and-You'll-Find Sites

Sure, you don't need to know what you're looking for when you peruse online thrift stores, especially when it comes to sites like Etsy, Depop, or eBay; oftentimes, their algorithms will suggest a few items to steer you in the right direction. But, it also doesn't hurt to have a goal. Typing in specific terms, such as "butterfly tank top" or "mohair coat," then filtering results to your liking (including size) will likely lead you to a treasure trove of practically-one-of-a-kind items. Even if the label isn't designer, per se, you'd be surprised how many off-brand vintage pieces could easily pass for current styles, saving you money and helping you serve some serious looks.

"I really think Etsy is the best place on the Internet to find vintage," says InStyle e-commerce writer Tara Gonzalez. "People often think of it for DIY crafts, so things are much easier to come by, and the prices are almost always better. I've found so many of my rare designer pieces on there, and I love looking at the recommended bar on an item — there's usually hundreds of similar things to look through. I'd highly recommend going into an Etsy black hole one night by typing in your favorite designer and era. I promise, you'll come up with gold."

The Recent-Vintage

Maybe your favorite places to shop include the Zaras, J.Crews, or Levi's of the world, and you often find yourself thinking about a top or skirt you should have bought, but unfortunately didn't, a few years back. With recent-vintage sites like Poshmark or Thread-Up, you might be able to find it. These online thrift stores sell a ton of everyday go-tos, not just investment pieces that will take a chunk out of your budget.

You can also head over to Rent the Runway if you're shopping for a special event or just want to spruce up your wardrobe with a few great picks. While this company is known for clothes you can rent, it also has a clearance section, where you can actually purchase cute, previously worn clothes and accessories for a reasonable price.

Instagram Accounts

It's true: we live world where we open up Instagram every five minutes. So, why wouldn't online thrift stores take advantage of this? There are hundreds thousands of accounts using their pages as a marketplace of sorts, posting what's available in their curated collection and encouraging followers DM for purchase — even if they have a physical site to scroll through, too. It's an easy way to spot and snag something you truly 'like,' and as InStyle's Deputy Editor Laura Norkin puts it, can also serve as a source of inspiration.

"I Am That is extremely curated, so you might find a Givenchy skirt or a no-name button up, but they're pieces that are cool right now and styled in super current ways," she says about her favorite account. "Even when I'm not shopping to actually buy anything new, I look through everything on their site or IG to get ideas about how to wear what I already have — and that's precisely the point of vintage, if you ask me."

Gotham/GC Images

Celebrity Stylist Secrets

You know when you see a celebrity wearing a throwback trend, only to realize their outfit is literally Chanel from 1994? Well, they — or rather, their stylists — had to get that baby from somewhere, and sometimes, the secret is in the Instagram tags. Bella Hadid, for instance, seems to be a fan of Treasures of NYC when filling her closet with quirky-cute items, and Kourtney Kardashian recently scored a sexy lace Dior bra from sororité.

Even better, those aforementioned stylists, including Mimi Cuttrell (who dresses Ariana Grande, Normani, and Gigi Hadid) and Chloe & Chenelle Delgadillo (who style Olivia Rodrigo and Camila Cabello) are constantly shouting out these luxury vintage stores on social media, so it's definitely worth scoping out their 'following' lists to discover even more — and, possibly, snag some special pieces before your style icon does.

The Casual Browse

Some of the best thrift shopping experiences happen when you're just browsing and are open to a world of possibilities. If you're hoping to spot something cool in those virtual racks, you might just want to head over to Thrilling, The Corner Store, or Second Cousin Vintage, where there's a good mix of old school designer and designer-like pieces for sale. Plus, if you're into shopping for stuff you've seen on TV shows, we recommend Cinema Spells, while ASOS also has a marketplace section full of fun, pre-owned pieces from vintage boutiques.

Reilly says her personal favorite is The Break, which offers a selection that spans multiple decades.

"The Break is a Brooklyn-based vintage project that pulls all the best '80s, '90s, and '00s career-woman staples, and recontextualizes them through a Phoebe Philo-era Céline lens (plenty to be found for those who love a greige)," she says. "Its inventory is blessedly size-inclusive down to the footwear, and prices are some of the best you'll find for this level of curation."

Related Articles