Vintage clothing is my absolute obsession, so much so that most of my wardrobe has been previously worn by many people and even my bed and my car are older than me. Nothing is off limits, I have even been known to buy vintage knickers and swimwear, let's be honest, the 80s really knew how to make swimsuits.
Below I have shared all of my favourite websites, charity shops, vintage markets and other nooks and crannies in the UK. I also reached out to our beloved readers and team and you kindly shared your very secret haunts with us, thank you.
What is vintage clothing?
Vintage clothing, is any clothing from a previous era, so technically something can't be vintage if it's from the same decade we are currently in. Also known as 'retro', 'second-hand' and 'pre-loved', the concept is the same, that someone has worn it and loved it before its new life with you. The existence of pre-worn clothes as a thing started post WW1 when there was a textile shortage, but now it has become increasingly fashionable to repurpose and modernise pieces from another time. Whole businesses have been built on the idea of buying things other people don't want any more.
Why buy vintage?
There is now a a lot of noise around vintage and pre-loved clothing due to a (brilliant) rise in awareness surrounding sustainable fashion. So second-hand clothing now is more popular than ever, even more reason to cast your net a little wider to get your hands on the good stuff. What could be better? Vintage clothing is kind to the environment, totally down to the individual, often offers one-off pieces. Plus, you never know what you’ll find next - the excitement is real.
Best online vintage clothing stores
Selling luxury designer brands include Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Chanel, Celine, Dior, Fendi, Goyard, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Prada. The Vintage Bar's buyers travel the world to hand-select the most exclusive pieces, and their brand experts inspect and guarantee them. They opened a store in Copenhagen too last year.
Did you know there is a huge online shop for Oxfam, so basically like all of their charity shops in one place? The site takes a bit of practise to navigate but there really are treasures to be found if you’re patient. I heard of someone finding a Chanel jacket on here.
Everything in my house is from eBay. My 60s bed, the 70s sofa, paintings, my antique dining table. And my wardrobe is full of amazing eBay finds, it’s great for designer pieces you didn’t buy and wished you had. Also, top tip: use eBay.fr and use a translation tool, vintage Chanel anyone??
Great for proper vintage clothes with sellers mainly from the USA and UK. Some of my favourite buys from here are old French cotton nighties which I wear as summer dresses, and some excellent denim from the 70s. Be careful of being stung by massive import charges when buying from the USA though.
Great for buying second-hand designer pieces from seasons past, they also have a dedicated vintage section including designer pieces and unbranded pieces. My best buy from Vestiaire is a Vetements dress from 2015 which cost me a fifth of the original price and brings me pure joy every time I wear it.
Depop is my new obsession. So reasonably priced and easy to navigate, you can get some great bargains on here, everything is realistically priced and sold by individual vendors. My best purchase has been the perfect pair of vintage Levi's orange tab.
ASOS marketplace is like one of those dream vintage shopping days, probably a Saturday, mooching around with a girlfriend, coffee in hand, and discovering gem after gem. The vintage section is so well laid out, and you can shop from 374 vintage shops without leaving your sofa. Better get your bank card ready!
I defy you not to become obsessed with Open for Vintage. They stock brands such as Chanel, Hermes, YSL - in short, it's incredible for very special dresses that no one else at the party will be wearing.
Susan Caplan stocks incredible vintage costume jewellery, we always use her pieces in Cosmopolitan shoots, especially her selection of Chanel jewellery. The dream.
Car boot fairs
Car boots mean an early rise on a Sunday morning so maybe don't attempt it if you're feeling a bit dusty from the night before. The most obscure places have the best things, so if you’re visiting your dear old Aunt check out Car Boot Junction for local listings wherever you are. Some car boots continue in winter but they’re best to visit in the summer when the stock is more likely to be dry! Take lots of cash as they never have cash machines.
Best vintage clothing stores in the UK
Atika, East London
This is one of my favourite vintage shops and I often use things from here for the magazine's fashion shoots. Fave purchases have been a pair of rare vintage French Levi's, a tie-dye sweater, a men’s trench coat and a chunky old fisherman’s sweater.
Octavia Foundation, West London
This is one of the best charity shops in the UK, it is rammed with designer pieces so you ALMOST feel like you’re in Harrods, which is just down the road. The basement is crammed with designer treasure. If you go to London you have to go here.
Beyond Retro, East London
Beyond Retro is a London institution. A lot of the stock is sourced in Canada and I literally cannot go here without buying something. It is vintage heaven.
The Vintage Market, East London
This is in the basement of the Truman Brewery, so you can pop in between visiting Beyond Retro and Attika. It is made up of hundreds of stalls, all selling different kinds of vintage/ I will always regret not buying a retro red racing jumpsuit. Vintage regret - nothing worse.
House of Vintage, East London
Cheshire Street is packed with vintage shops. But this place has another class of vintage, which is excellently sourced. I was in here once when a famous stylist was helping her friend choose a vintage 1920s slip to wear as a wedding dress. This is the place to find true gem.
90zBack, East London
"Can’t speak highly enough of this place. Great selection of vintage streetwear and limited trainers at a reasonable price. A must-visit for those that adore 90s/early 2000s fashion." – Tyra Chuck, Junior Video Editor/Producer at Cosmopolitan UK
Dukes Cupboard, East London
"This place is great for unique and hard to find vintage pieces. It's where you can pick up those rare finds you’ve been searching for. Generous collection of clothing." – Tyra Chuck, Junior Video Editor/Producer at Cosmopolitan UK
Nordic Poetry, East London
"Must-see place when hunting for unique and exclusive vintage clothes, especially as they constantly update their stocks." – Tyra Chuck, Junior Video Editor/Producer at Cosmopolitan UK
Goldsmith Vintage, West End
The store right next to Tottenham Court Road tube is a haven of vintage gold dust. I got one of my favourite pairs of shoes here, some Miu Miu snakeskin 90s platforms, and they were only £60! The basement has a 'cash-only' semi-permanent sale on too, you’ll need time to rummage as it’s stuffed with pieces.
Pop Boutique, Covent Garden
So tidy, so organised and full of vintage Americana. My favourite find here was a suede fringed western jacket. They always have an excellent selection of cowboy boots too, which are super hard to come by in vintage shops.
Pick n’ Weight, Covent Garden
This is fairly new to London and is one of the best. The clothing is priced by weight so you can try on first and then see what the damage is. I don’t know how to say what it’s best for as they have everything. The Cosmo fashion team is obsessed and make regular trips. it’s heaven.
Rokit, Covent Garden
The stock here changes regularly so you will always find something. They have excellent second-hand sportswear and the men’s section is particularly notable. Try and avoid visiting in lunchtimes though, as the changing room queues can be loooong.
Vintage Mischief, Beccles
"Every time I go to see my parents in Beccles, I raid this place. It’s like an old dairy that they’ve converted into a vintage furniture and clothes place." – Paisley Gilmour, Sex and Relationships Editor at Cosmopolitan UK
Best Days Vintage, Colchester
"Biggest and best one in town, they do a lot of re-working of old clothes. British Heart Foundation and Oxfam in Colchester town centre are also fab, as is the RSPCA shop on Prettygate Road (got a v nice antique gold mirror in there)." – Jennifer Savin, Features Writer at Cosmopolitan UK
The Vintage Market in Stokes Croft, Bristol
"There’s everything under the sun in here and they’re up for a bit of bartering too if you’re feeling brave." – Jennifer Savin, Features Writer at Cosmopolitan UK
Uncle Sam's, Bristol
"This shop stocks all-American vintage themed gear. A LOT of denim, cowboy boots etc. Uncle Sam’s is on Park Street which has a load of other vintage/second-hand shops on it too, as does North Street. I basically just make my way from the bottom of Park Street – which is on a huge hill – and go into all of them en-route, then treat myself at the top with brunch from Boston Tea Party." – Jennifer Savin, Features Writer at Cosmopolitan UK
"Loot is good too, they hand-pick stock from all over (Miami, NYC). Last time I was here they had a stunning pair of Playboy jeans which I wish more than anything had been in my size." – Jennifer Savin, Features Writer at Cosmopolitan UK
The Yellow Shop, Bath
"The Yellow Shop has a fab range of all kinds of mainly 20th Century vintage clothing." – Elizabeth J. Cameron, reader
Jack & Danny’s, Bath
"Jack & Danny's is a right dig about place. It has a huge selection of everything. Be prepared to delve to find what you love" – Elizabeth J. Cameron, reader.
While the brand doesn't have a website or an Instagram, we definitely recommend checking this out in person.
Debra, East Horsley
I would probably choose going here over a trip to the Caribbean. This place is a gold mine. My last visit turned out an unworn Burberry super oversized men’s trench coat for £100. They have a fancy section of designer stuff and the men’s section is always excellent too.
Mind, Tunbridge Wells
My best find here was 90s Moschino blazer with thick velvet trim and heavy gold bauble buttons. I found it when I was 18 and treasure it still! This store made the headlines when an anonymous woman donated over £60K of designer clothing, including Prada and Gucci pieces! Very sad I missed that memo.
Celia Hammond, Wadhurst
Celia Hammond really loves cats, and so do I. This place can be a bit 'hit and miss' but when it’s a hit it really serves up.
Hospice in the Weald, Wadhurst
Hospice in the Weald is more jam packed than Celia Hammond and has some real bargains to be found, my last visit turned up some 90s Russel and Bromley PERFECT knee high boots. Totally swoony.
Wolf and Gypsy, Brighton
I found this store by accident one day when wandering the lanes in Brighton. I remember getting an amazing haul all in one go. A 90s floral Escada dress, some perfect vintage denim dungarees and a time worn Breton top. Stacey Dooley and I bonded over our love of this shop. It’s a true winner. And they have a website too.
Snoopers Paradise, Brighton
"Probs the most obvious Brighton option, but for a reason! It’s a huge indoor market which sells everything from vintage cowboy boots to retro toys to stacks of old postcards (that was my fave thing to do when I lived there, just go in and buy all the old pictures and postcards). They have an upstairs bit solely for vintage clothes, as well as stalls dotted about in the lower half, and do lots of nice Courtney Love-esque silk nighties." – Jennifer Savin, Features Writer at Cosmopolitan UK
Waiste Vintage, Brighton
"This place is owned by super cool Sara Waiste, it’s a bit more on the pricey end of the scale but she has great taste!" – Jennifer Savin, Features Writer at Cosmopolitan UK
"Shabitat is a mix of everything, a lot of furniture as well as clothes/bric-a-brac. They do a lot of up-cycling and have some cool pieces." – Jennifer Savin, Features Writer at Cosmopolitan UK
Not the cheapest store but Retro has some great pieces if you hunt hard! Also, they’re willing to give discounts to students if you ask nicely..
BUY THE BAG (for St Oswald’s Hospice), Newcastle
You either fill a fat bag with as much as you want and pay £10 for it all, or fill a smaller bag for £5. Or if you only want to buy one thing it will be a bargain £1. This place gets rammed. You have to go regularly as sometimes you’ll find rare pieces and other times you’ll leave with a sad face and nothing new to show for it.
British Red Cross, Newcastle
British Red Cross has everything from furniture to clothing and accessories. You can grab a bargain but some things might be more pricey. All for a good cause. They colour coordinate the rails so if you’re looking for something specific it will save you time and also there is a dedicated vintage section with some amazing bits!
Bowler Vintage, York
One of the most famous vintage shops in York. You’ll find everything from rare vintage gems to reproduction vintage dresses, which are made by Bowler’s team.
Expressions Clothing, York
This is the first place to head to if looking for one-off retro pieces. They have a HUGE selection of America sportswear pieces like basketball jerseys and baseball shirts.
Priestley’s Vintage, York
This is the one-stop party shop, there's so much evening wear. They stock everything from Burberry trench coats to costume jewellery to go with your new found special outfit.
POP Boutique, Leeds
With stores also in Liverpool, London and Manchester, Pop’s is like the vintage world's version of a high street store in terms of how it’s laid out and organised into sections, so it’s a good entry point for those scared of pre-loved pieces. There is also a basement here so don’t miss that.
Sue Ryder Vintage, Leeds
This is like the daddy of all charity shops. Slightly more expensive too, but the shop is very well curated and they have some next-level amazing pieces. You can also pick up some old records while you’re there. Even better!
Blue Rinse, Leeds
This place has been around for ages and is a Leeds institution. They have such a huge selection of vintage you will always find 'the one'. They also make their own reworked pieces which are sustainable and also cool AF. A must visit.
Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair is the country’s largest travelling vintage market. They sell everything from clothes to homewares, check their website for when they’ll be in your area. The same company also owns The Vintage Kilo Sale where you buy items based on weight rather than value, so you can get some MEGA bargains. It’s only £15 per kilo for whatever you find.
Cow Vintage , Manchester
"A treasure trove. Filled with an eclectic mix of young and vibrant vintage pieces I decided on some hot pink Wrangler high waisted jeans, a tartan mini skirt and a fuchsia black polka dot skirt, reclaimed into a modern midi shape. Eclectic indeed! They also have stores in Birmingham, Liverpool, Nottingham and Sheffield" – Sophie Leen, Bookings Editor at Cosmopolitan UK
Soho’s Vintage, Liverpool
"These guys are right in the middle of Liverpool. Their Instagram makes them look punky but they always have amazing denim, a whole wall of jeans!! They currently have 1000 pairs of Levi’s in stock…" - Martha Baker- Woodside, reader
Pop Boutique, Liverpool
"These guys are so good, they’re part of a chain of vintage shops but always have the best stuff" - Martha Baker- Woodside, reader
This place has loads of good quality Americana and amazing denim. Hard to visit here and not find a keeper.
This is on the pricier end of the scale but they have some real finds. This is the go to place for denim lovers. Get there ASAP!
Chest, Heart & Stroke Charity Shop, Linlithgow
"I love this charity shop as you truly never know what you're going to find. I've left with vintage fur coats, contemporary jewellery and embellished party bags. This is one of my favourite ever charity shops, it is so small and quaint inside but it is always merchandised to a standard I haven't seen in any other; only enticing you further to look at every piece." – Charlotte Gallagher, Fashion Intern at Cosmopolitan UK
The Glasgow Vintage Company, Glasgow
"This is one of my favourite vintage shops in Glasgow. Their colour co-ordinated rails, window displays and music selection propels you into leaving with a new (but old) piece of, sometimes reworked, vintage fashion. Glasgow Vintage Co are good for 'never seen before' Levi's, oversized knits/cardis and decadent accessories." – Charlotte Gallagher, Fashion Intern at Cosmopolitan UK
Twice Loved, Glasgow
"Twice Loved gives people on a lower budget the opportunity to second-hand shop designer pieces they might not otherwise be able to afford. Accessories-wise they're great for vintage luxury bags, sunglasses, headscarves. For clothes, they offer an extensive variety of designers; with my favourites being Christian Dior and Prada. The clothes and accessories they have to offer, over a varied price range, make the chance of owning pre-loved luxury that bit more feasible. You'll find this gem in Hyndland but you can even have a look at Twice Loved stock online!" – Charlotte Gallagher, Fashion Intern at Cosmopolitan UK
W. Armstrong & Son Vintage Clothing, Edinburgh
"Established in 1840, I don't think anyone who loves second-hand shopping in Edinburgh will not know where Armstrong's is. I love that this vintage shop has stood the test of time and has been promoting the purchase of pre-owned clothes since the 19th century. You can find a range of specially selected retro women and men’s clothes, covering the 60s, 70s and 90s and more!" – Charlotte Gallagher, Fashion Intern at Cosmopolitan UK.
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