Often when we think about thrift and consignment shopping, we imagine a broke college student trolling racks of other peoples’ cast-offs, seeking out cheeky tees and vintage jeans. But secondhand stores have much to offer for the discerning shopper, if you know where to look. San Francisco is teeming with shops that carry luxury brands, vintage classics, and designer labels, allowing you to enhance your wardrobe locally at a fraction of the cost of new items.

Vintage boutiques are a great source for timeless, high-quality pieces. When shopping for vintage clothing, consider the following

  • Style: Is this a classic with longevity, or is it very particular to its time? Butterfly collars and bell bottoms were all the rage in the 70s, but will look like a funky costume in today’s world!
  • Fit: Are the sleeves too long? Does the overall cut suit your body type? As with any garment off the rack, some alterations can be made, but seam allowances and garment construction will determine how much can be done to improve the fit. Waistlines, hems, and sleeve length are easiest. Stores may have an in-house alterations department so it’s always good to ask.
  • Condition: High-end vintage stores tend to exclusively sell items in excellent condition, but a careful examination is always a good idea. Check for unpleasant odors, uneven fading, moth holes, missing buttons & other fasteners, loose stitching, stains, excessive pilling, or elastic that’s lost its stretch. Certain things can be repaired by a specialist, but like any used purchase, buyer beware!

Another great source for used clothing is a consignment shop. These employ teams of buyers with extensive knowledge of brands and labels, who screen used merchandise for value and salability. If your interest is in contemporary high-end designer and luxury clothing, you can find many treasures for a fraction of the price. As with vintage clothing, always inspect garments carefully before purchasing.

If you want to know more, we have experienced staff who can guide you through the world of vintage and consignment shopping with personal consultations, to help you find the perfect pieces to incorporate into your wardrobe.

-Shea English and Michelle Leigh


Cris Consignment
2056 Polk St
(415) 474-1191

Crossroads Clothing
Multiple Locations throughout the Bay Area
(415) 681-0100

Relic Vintage
1605 Haight St.
(415) 255-7460

Sui Generis Consignment

  • Men’s Store
    2231 Market St.
    (415) 437-2231
  • Women’s Store
    2147 Union St
    (415) 800-7584

1660 Haight St.
Phone: (415) 863-3150