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The Best Places to Find Vintage Scores (In Order of Most Enjoyable Experience to Least)

Atlanta-based Rhiannon Leifheit originally launched her site, liebemarlene.com, as a companion to her expertly curated and gently priced online store, Liebemarlene Vintage. Now it's become a hub to peep her insanely cool, retro-inflected personal style, as well as a place to read her musings about all things stylish, past and present. We're thrilled to have Rhiannon guest-blogging for us all week on luckymag.com, where she'll be sharing her second-hand shopping expertise and more!

1. Small town garage sales: Vintage shopping is always best in small towns or out in the country, and when I lived in the rural Midwest I was out at garage sales every weekend during the warmer months. My favorites were always the ones run by little old ladies. For one thing, they usually have pretty interesting things beyond clothing: old magazines, dishes, boxes of yarn, weird ancient electronics. But if you can luck out and find a sale that has vintage clothing, it's perfect, especially when you can find stuff at 25-cents-a-pop prices.

2. Antique malls
: I love going on trips to little tourist towns here in the South because they almost always have an antique mall right off the highway, and sometimes they have clothing booths. Usually these booths will be extra random: You might find a '70s polyester dress next to a glittery number from a few years ago, or maybe some Red Hat Society castoffs hanging over some Gone With the Wind memorabilia. But if you dig around the racks long enough, you might find something you love--like a blouse from the 1920s for super-cheap.

3. Etsy: Even though I sold vintage on eBay for years, I have to pick Etsy as my favorite marketplace. It's really handy for finding that one elusive item you've incessantly been on the hunt for, the one that still escapes your grasp, no matter how many thrift stores you've scoured. My Etsy shop is under heavy construction so I can't really pimp it, but there are lots of other amazing Etsy shops out there (see Blooming Leopold, Clever Nettle, or Fancy Fine). Just do a quick search and you're likely to find pages and pages of whatever you're looking for.

4. Thrift stores: Thrift stores would be No. 1 on my list if they were enjoyable. They're really not--there is always at least one crying baby, and the ones around these parts like to play bad music, so I usually walk out with a headache. But most of the time, I walk out with a headache and a bag of clothes, so it's all right. These are my go-to emporiums for cheap vintage clothes, and I never buy a new trendy piece without looking in them first--because there's a good chance I'll find it at an amazing price.

5. Vintage stores: I don't know why vintage stores are so far down on this list because they usually are pretty fun to go to. I guess that sometimes they just feel too easy, with all the good pieces sitting pristinely together on a rack. There's no hunt or real sense of accomplishment involved. My favorites are the ones that have beautiful presentation, like the late great Venus and Mars, Karen Elson's old shop in Nashville that closed down last year. There should be more vintage stores like that one.

The amazing (and sadly closed) Venus & Mars . (photo via the Free People Blog)

6. Estate sales: Estate sales are probably the biggest gold mine for vintage and are where lots of vintage shop buyers get their stock, but...they are nerve-wracking. I haven't gone to one in months because I haven't had the courage. Getting up early enough to snag a decent place in line is one thing, but actually maneuvering your way around a (usually deceased) stranger's house trying to find their good closet is another. Especially when you have to fight your way past avid estate salers. I don't know if anyone would describe this as fun, although once in a while it can be lucrative. I've walked out of sales with armfuls of vintage dresses that cost as little as a dollar each, but that's rare. If you feel like braving one, just check the sales on your local Craigslist, or even better, go to estatesales.net. And be sure to drink lots of coffee before you go.

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