Sure, we love grabbing the latest, hot-off-the-sewing-machine goods as much as the next girl, but vintage—make that, especially awesome vintage—is a major part of Nasty Gal’s DNA. Not to mention, it’s the only way to get yourself some unsurpassed sartorial street cred. And who, you might ask, is responsible for our weekly upload of out-of-this-world finds? Why, Liz, Nasty Gal’s Vintage Buyer, of course! Because we can’t just accept the fruits of her labor graciously and silently, we sat down with Liz to pick her brain on everything from Ally McBeal to 1940s rayon—and tried desperately the learn some of her secrets.
OK. What are your top places to shop?
Ah! Can’t tell you! There are so many gems throughout the US (yes, I go all over the place!). Small charity shops and Buy-Sell-Trade stores have a high turnover rate, so those are always good to go to once or twice a week for new inventory. And I never shop in high populated areas—you gotta go to the small towns and the middle-of-nowheres for the good stuff.
How do you manage to part with all of your ridiculous finds? Or is there a secret stash we should know about…
Everyone always asks me this! I used to hold on to a lot of things (I still do, I have a stupid amount of clothes), but after doing this for so many years you learn to let go of stuff when you know new stuff will always be there. I guess I’ve stopped idolizing clothing items and have gotten pretty good at recycling. Also: you’d be surprised how many times you see the same things over and over; buying vintage can be a bit of a Groundhog Day experience.
If we’re considering buying a certain item, but it’s not a well-known brand, what are the markers that you look for (quality of construction, fabrics, finishing, details) to decide if it’s a worthwhile item or not?
Fabric is my number one because you can always tell a good fabric when you feel it. I never buy polyester (it is on very rare occasion that you will see it on this site) because, ew, who wants thick, Brady Bunch polyester on their body? Nope. Look out for silks and rayon blends; they will be the comfiest. Rayon from the 1940s is some of the dreamiest fabric you’ll ever find.
What are some of your favorite vintage trends right now? What’s on the horizon and what’s about to fall out of favor?
It’s pretty crazy how quickly we accepted the late 90s as being vintage. I’m into it—to an extent—although I’m pretty much over this whole club kid thing (snooze). I’m super into mid-to-late 90s minimal suiting and outfiting, think Jennifer Aniston serving coffee at Central Perk, Kate Moss in a simple black camisole, Ally McBeal’s mini-skirts and buttoned up cardigans, a pinstripe with a crop top and a strappy sandal? Feels totally relevant and modern for Fall.
What are some of the most popular items (either by style, designer, theme) at Nasty Gal?
Chanel, Moschino and Versace are always in high-demand. I think those designers, specifically their vintage pieces, really speak to our customer. It’s all incredibly sexy but also fun and kind of weird. A polka dot, palm print and medallion print silk blouse? Thanks Versace!
In your experience, what are some of the most common problems to styling vintage clothing and incorporating them into your wardrobe? Any tips on how to overcome those?
I always tell people that the key to vintage clothing is to always pair it with something modern. For example, if you have a super cute little shift from the 60s, try it with a modern sandal or pump to keep it feeling fresh. Otherwise you run the risk of looking like you stepped out of Grandma’s closet.
Do you recommend tailoring pieces to be more modern or embracing older fashioned cuts? (We’re looking at you, 80s hourglass.)
I think the easiest tailoring is always to bring up the hem. It instantly refreshes a dress that might otherwise feel a bit drab. And if you find an amazing 80s jacket but the shoulder pads are completely insane – take them out!
Are there any Hall of Fame finds that stick out in your mind?
I recently found a 1940s silk Chanel gown at a small dress shop here in LA. The draping, the fabric, the cut—it’s so amazing. It’s coming soon!