Monday, September 17, 2012

Guest Post: Vintage Defined: tips for shopping and wearing vintage

I'm excited to share a post from my dear friend Andrea that I worked with in my pre-mommy life:)  She is a girl who knows how to find great vintage pieces.  Check out her blog and see how she's got the retro vibe down at Fashions and Fancies.

When I referred to my 1960’s wedding dress as “vintage,” I inadvertently offended my
grandmother. “Vintage, that’s not vintage!” she reprimanded.  I guess when you have lived through the
1960’s you don’t like the implication that you yourself might be “vintage” as well.  I apologized profusely and tried my best to explain that I simply meant it was from a previous decade.  I suppose that “vintage” is a very broad term; limited to not one definition, but many.  Though in my personal opinion, vintage as it pertains to clothing, is anything older than twenty years (actually I would even consider some early 1990’s clothing as vintage).  My husband put it an interesting way, “Yeah it’s like music: anything older than twenty years is considered classic… crazy, Nirvana is classic rock now!"  I suppose perspective is everything, and when you realize that “vintage” and “classic” are completely different from “old,” you understand that a little age or wear on something doesn’t make it less valuable, but rather more unique and precious.  This is why I love vintage clothing.  I love learning the story behind it… and then putting my own story in front of it!

Here are some of my tips for shopping vintage:

Decide on your era- Before you go shopping for vintage items, look through the current fashion
magazines and see what the designers are doing.  I read a wonderful quote recently in The New York
Times that said, “The hardest thing to realize in fashion is that the future lies in the past.  The second
hardest thing is to forget the past.”  It is inevitable that the trends of previous generations will come back around in one way or another.  The Louis Vuitton Fall 2010 collection evoked the 1950’s with its ultra-feminine silhouettes, and the Prada Fall 2011 collection went mod with graphic prints and drop waists.  This fall, designers seem to be drawing inspiration from the seventies, sixties and even as far back as the Victorian and Baroque ages (not that you’ll be able to find anything that vintage while shopping!).

Choose your destination- There are many places to go for vintage clothing.  Most cities have at least one fabulous little shop devoted to selling strictly vintage clothing.  These local boutiques are great because they are usually owned by someone with a passion for vintage who is more than happy to help you find what you are looking for.  You can also go online and spend hours browsing EBay and Etsy. Personally however, I like to find my vintage at thrift stores.  Maybe it’s the treasure seeker in me, but I enjoy having to search it out, working for my reward.  If you’re going to try your luck at a thrift store, do a little research first.  Familiarize yourself with the popular styles, brands and designers of that time.  This way you won’t be totally overwhelmed when you step through the doors of a giant Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc.  For example, if I wanted to find some cool 1970’s pieces, I would first Google (ahh, the convenience of the internet) something such as “clothing designers of the 1970’s” which would lead me to Halston, Yves Saint Laurent and Diane Von Furstenberg among others. Now you most likely will not find a Halston original at a thrift store, but you will know the sort of thing you are looking for …because it is very important to remember that the seventies were more than just bell-bottoms and platforms!

Look for quality- Clothing that is well made shouldn’t look really old even if it is vintage.  An item may have been worn before, but be on the lookout for excessive wear (stains, holes, pilling).  I’m not
saying that you’ll find things in perfect condition (especially the further back in time you go: 1920’s, 30’s, 40’s), just steer clear of anything that is literally falling apart.

Don’t be afraid to tailor- Because vintage pieces are so unique, you won’t always find the exact right
fit- that’s okay.  It simply allows you the opportunity to custom tailor pieces so that they look made
especially for you!

Add your own touches- Part of the fun of wearing vintage, at least for me, is the ability to mix it up.  I
enjoy making vintage modern.  You don’t have to stick with one style; you can combine a cute 1950’s
floral dress with a studded belt or some cowboy boots.  You can wear 1960’s cat eye sunglasses with
skinny jeans and a graphic tee.  You can even pair some 1980’s high waisted acid-wash jeans with a
cute crop top and heels.  Mix and match decades.  Have fun, be creative and design your own personal

I believe that vintage, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.  So however you choose to define it,
wear your vintage with pride and an understanding that the future is nothing without the past!

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