How to Buy a Vintage Suit

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How to Buy a Vintage Suit

There is something timeless about old fashioned designs. What’s more, vintage clothing is often more affordable than the clothes that can be found in mainstream fashion stores and offer a great opportunity to express one’s unique personality. Vintage suits, in particular, are ideal for the man who wants to be considered both elegant and cool at the same time. Few garments communicate "gentleman" as powerfully as a nicely fitted pinstripe suit from 1965, or a brown tweed outfit from the 1970s.

When getting a vintage suit, there are a few important aspects to consider in order to make an informed purchase. First, it might be inspiring to ponder the aesthetic and economical benefits of buying a vintage suit. Second, one should check the overall quality of the suit and how well the smaller details such as buttons and seams have been preserved over the years. Finally, one should take into consideration the factors that one would normally when buying a suit, including fabric and size.

Why Buy a Vintage Suit?

There are several reasons why a man should consider purchasing a vintage suit. For the sake of simplicity, one might want to regard the vintage suit from two points: the aesthetic viewpoint and the utilitarian viewpoint.

The Aesthetics of a Vintage Suit

Even men who are not typically into timeless retro fashion can appreciate the refined elegance of vintage suits. Some men may simply consider the vintage suit to be a much cooler, and personally unique, alternative to many suits found in modern retail stores.

Vintage Suit Aesthetics: The Retro Factor

As touched upon above, retro fashion never seems to go out of fashion. New generations of men and women alike keep discovering the creativity and playfulness that marked clothing from the period spanning roughly from the 1950s to the late 1970s. Popular culture is full of examples of modern rock stars, movie stars, and other cultural personalities who pay tribute to bygone days by wearing vintage clothes. A man who is interested in looking uniquely elegant might find it interesting to browse the huge selection of old suits available in the used market. Some patterns, including the classic pinstripe, have not lost their charm, with many modern manufacturers seeking to reproduce them. Vintage suits address this retro factor for men who want to recapture old-fashioned elegance.

Vintage Suit Aesthetics: The James Bond Fit

Men who do not consider themselves particularly into retro fashion might still find it worthwhile to buy a vintage suit. There are many vintage suits that are not explicitly retro, but simply have a certain panache to them that is hard to pinpoint precisely. Closer scrutiny often reveals that the added elegance comes from the characteristic fit that marked suits in earlier decades. Perhaps in what may be called the "James Bond factor", vintage suits, particularly those from the 1960s, commonly have a tighter fit than modern day equivalents. Often called "slim fit&" models, such vintage suits are widely available in the used clothing market.

Benefits of a Vintage Suit

In addition to the aesthetic aspect, vintage suits also have several practical benefits. Many men have discovered the comparatively low prices at which vintage suits can be purchased and have been surprised by the high quality that characterise many of the suits.


Like many other used clothes, vintage suits are typically more affordable than newly produced suits in the mainstream retail. Vintage suits are, as such, ideal for young men who are out to buy their very first suit and are on a tight student budget. The vintage suit is also attractive to those who simply do not want to spend too much money on an item with which they have had little experience. Rather than getting a brand new suit for a one-time event, it may be an idea to try a less expensive alternative.


The fact that vintage suits cost less than new suits does not mean that they are in poorer condition. On the contrary, suits that have stood the test of time are often still in very good shape. It should be mentioned, however, that vintage suits of well-known fashion houses of Italian or French origin might be almost as pricey as newer suits of the same brand. The reason for this is that certain brands never go out of style, and that the vintage factor can add an extra dimension of nostalgia.

Considerations When Purchasing a Vintage Suit

With the huge assortment of vintage suits available in the marketplace, it is useful to take into account a few points that can serve as guidelines. Colour, pattern, fit, and design are, of course, all matters of personal taste, but there are some universal pointers can be helpful in making the right decision.

Vintage Suit Parts

Since most vintage suits are at least a decade or two old, it is possible that some parts may have been lost over the years. Therefore, it is important to check that the suit is complete, and that all parts are original. If a jacket looks slightly off in colour compared to the trousers, it may be that it has been added at a later point in time. However, there is nothing wrong with getting a suit that does not have all its original parts intact, as long as it is a good fit.

Vintage Suit Details

Related to the point above is the notorious tendency of buttons, and other small details, to get lost over time. When getting a vintage suit, it is important to check that it has all its buttons intact, or that there is a reasonable chance of finding new buttons to replace the lost ones. The same goes for minor but characteristic suit features such as decorative seams.

Vintage Suit Fabric

One great thing about vintage suits is the wide range of available fabrics. If the context allows it, the trendy man who wants to look like a retro 1970s professional can have no trouble finding a tweed suit with leather buttons. Likewise, the young man who wants to express his interest in the 1960s might consider a slim fit brown corduroy model. More commonly, men like to wear suits that are made of wool, although polyester, cotton, linen, flannel, and khaki variants are also available. When choosing fabric, it is important to consider the climate and the context in which the suit is to be worn. It may not be appropriate, for instance, to wear a light linen suit to a solemn occasion such as a funeral, but it may be worn to a wedding ceremony. Wool is often considered the most durable fabric when it comes to suits, and, as such, a good quality choice.

Vintage Suit Size

Size is an extremely important factor to take into account when getting a vintage suit. Few things stand out as much as a poorly fitted suit, regardless of whether it is too loose or too tight. The following chart displays the standard sizes for men’s shirts and formal jackets.


Shirt Chest Measurement (cm)

Formal Jacket Chest Measurement (cm)


86 - 91



91 - 96



96 - 101



101 - 106



106 - 111


For the trousers, it is important to choose the right length on the inside leg. The chart below displays the standard inside length measurements for short, regular, and long trousers respectively.


Inside Leg Length (cm)







The sizes presented in the charts above are only guidelines. When it comes to vintage suits, it is usually better to consider the whole impression, rather than focusing excessively on modern day measurements. For some occasions, it might even be appropriate for a vintage jacket to be slightly too tight compared to today’s standards, or for the trousers to be a little looser. The guiding principle when it comes to such matters is usually personal taste.

Buying a Vintage Suit

Vintage suits are widely available in most corners of the world. A great place to look is in second-hand shops which usually have huge sections dedicated to male formal wear, including shirts, ties, shoes, blazers, and complete suits. Similarly, flea markets and garage sales can be good sources, as are local newspaper ads. It is also not unlikely to find a vintage suit in mainstream outlets. Some modern fashion stores have discovered the huge interest that lies in vintage clothing in general and have set up specific vintage sections next to their regular assortments.

Buying a Vintage Suit on eBay

The Internet, of course, is another great place to find a vintage suit. There are several online marketplaces that sell all kinds of vintage clothes, including men’s suits. eBay, for instance, has several listings for classic, crazy, elegant, bold, loose, and tight vintage men’s suits.

An easy way to find a vintage suit on eBay is to simply go to the main page and type "men’s vintage suits&" in the search bar. This takes you to a part of the site where vintage sports suit jackets meet luxury 1930s three-piece models as well as any other imaginable type of vintage suit. The number of listings might, at first, seem a little overwhelming. However, eBay has devised a useful system for narrowing down results to make them more personally relevant. For instance, you can specify the price range in which you are willing to make your purchase or choose to browse sellers within close distance to your home. eBay has a whole catalogue of different categories, making it easy to browse through the huge assortment until you find the vintage suit you need.


The gentleman who wants to be look elegant and cool at the same time has a world of opportunities to explore in the market for vintage suits. Whether looking for a classic pinstripe model, or a slim fit retro suit, the number of options available is endless. Men around the world have discovered the aesthetic and practical benefits of wearing vintage suits. Not only does the vintage suit allow for personal expression, but it is also an affordable quality alternative to suits that are commonly sold in the mainstream retail market. Purchasing a vintage suit involves taking into account a set of guiding principles. For instance, one should determine the overall quality of the suit in terms of how well preserved it is and whether it still comes with all original pieces. Also, one should factor in practical aspects such as fabric and size measurements. With its numerous user-friendly features and listings, eBay can make finding that great vintage suit a reality.

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