I know that a lot of people are divided when it comes to vintage clothing, or just vintage in general.
I love it.
I adore that there is so much history stored in an item of vintage clothing. It probably goes back to my uni days studying history. Social history was always my favourite – history that tells a story about a collection of peoples’ or a person’s life. History really doesn’t get any better than this, it’s emotional and sincere.
Each item has seen a number of places and people. Made in one place, distributed in another potentially and either stayed with the same person or exchanged hands a number of times. Can you imagine those possibilities?
It’s these journeys and these personal stories that make these items all the more interesting to me. They could have been traded, they could have been lost or they could have been handed down generation after generation. Each piece is special and has a unique story to tell.
But it’s not just this. I love the character of each piece too. Whether it’s an insanely ugly jumper made out of a completely ridiculous material that could have only be made to make perspire profusely or a dress so loud it makes Steven Tyler from Aerosmith look like a shrinking violet, with killer shoulder pads to match.
Because, at the end of the day, who wants to look like somebody else? I know I don’t. I’d rather look that little bit different. wearing something that means something as opposed to just a regular jumper bought on the high street. That’s not to say that I don’t buy off the high street, that’d be a lie. There are some bits that occasionally take my fancy but they are always interpretations of older pieces, generally.
Don’t get me wrong, I can understand why people don’t like vintage – the thought of someone having died in it charity shop-esque, the extreme costs of some pieces now it has taken off as a trend and the fact that it can now be seen as very ‘hipster’. But none of these have put me off.
If you’re looking for a little bit of vintage to spice up your wardrobe or transport you to another decade, here’s my top 5 tips:
When shopping for a piece of vintage clothing, always hold it up to the light, it makes it easier to spot flaws. This means looking for any holes or general repairs, the best places to look for any flaws are at the seams, elbows or in the armpits. This could be where an item has been stretched or just not been looked after as it should have been. You’ll also be able to see how good the quality of the fabric is, if you can see through it, then it’s probably best to put it back on the hanger. Fastenings and appendages are also worth a spot – nobody likes a missing button that you can’t replace or putting on an item and finding a broken zip. That being said, if you’re happy to fix these parts then why not ask for a discount? I’ve done it on countless pieces and never been turned down.
Never be too proud to ask for help. I was for the first couple of years and it meant I bought a lot of items I thought I could change but in reality, couldn’t. Shopkeepers and assistants are there to help you and the majority of them know their stuff. You can ask anything – especially about the items they have in stock. Chances are they’ll know the story behind the piece. It also helps you build up your own knowledge. Most vintage shopkeepers and assistants love their jobs, it’s why they do it, nothing makes them happier than you taking an interest.
You know those Kilo Sales you see, avoid them if you can. I can honestly say, I’ve not bought a thing from one of them as the quality is normally a lot poorer than usual. Instead, visit a store that you can build a relationship with and a shopkeeper you can trust. Do your research and make sure you’re getting the best quality you can for your money. Having said that, cheap items are great for testing out repairs and practicing your skills in adaptation but apart from that, there’s really little left to be gained.
It’s fair to say I’m a curvy girl and when I first went vintage shopping, I found it hard. Really hard. I had to buy things that had elasticated waists and were really over-sized but now I find items that genuinely fit. If I’m honest, I still have yet to figure out my vintage sizings… it varies so much. Instead, I spend time finding pieces that are right for me and my body shape or ones that I am certain can be adapted. I normally find these are tea dresses, A-line dresses and loose-fitting blouses. I also have a rather fancy collection of fluffy jumpers, perfect for staying warm in Winter.
By now, I know what I like – bright colours, bold prints and fitted shapes, where possible. It does take time to find out what you like, it’s like being unleashed into a new world you never knew existed. So, the chances are if you like what’s hanging up, you’ll like it on – so try it! You have nothing left to lose. Find the piece’s potential and have fun while doing it – just go with an open mind.
I hope you find these helpful and you explore what is probably one of my most rewarding hobbies.
Let me know how you get on below or if you’re already a vintage convert…