In the mood for some 1920s Great Gatsby glam, or a 1950s Mad Men make-over? Then a vintage shopping adventure should be part of your summer holiday to-do list. 

In fact the best vintage shopping tours double as an adventure back in time, as you explore hidden pockets of history told through the things people left behind, passed on or sold off.

Jessie Alice, who runs Vintage Walking Tours in Melbourne, is always on the look out for a perfect hat box, gloves or cloak from a bygone era, and once found a 1920s dressing gown in a pre-loved fashion store hidden in a Berlin basement.

“Oriental in the sleeves, made from black silk crepe with a subtle floral pattern. It jazzes up any outfit!,” she said. “And it definitely gets the most comments when out and about, even if it is slightly eccentric.”

Jessie tells her tour groups that the term ‘vintage’ is borrowed from the wine industry, when it is used to refer to specify the year in which the grapes were harvested.  

“It’s only in the last few years that this word has become a trend for fashion,” she said. “You’ll find in Europe that the term ‘second-hand store’ is used more prominently.”

Highly sought after vintage items include retro luggage, industrial furnishings, shiny metallic glomesh handbags and purses, and military books which are popular with collectors.

COCA-COLA memorabilia is popular, and the company’s long history ensures there’s a vintage Coke piece for lovers of every era, from the 1920s through to the ‘80s.

Jessie’s vintage shopping tips

1.     Look for original tags and maker’s marks.

2.     Haggling is OK at market stalls, but it’s not a such a good idea in store.

3.     Op shops and markets are better for bagging a bargain, vintage retailers know the value of their stock and price it accordingly.

4.     Take a friend who knows a little about sewing, some clothes can be altered slightly if they don’t fit perfectly.

5.     Be cautious at markets where stallholders may not know the true authenticity of an item.

6.     Start small, with hats, coats, bags or shoes while you figure out your style.