Fashion makes my heart sing but vintage fashion makes my heart sing and dance. When hunting for vintage clothes I am not thinking investment, I am thinking enjoyment. Enjoyment in wearing what I have just purchased. Like this 1970s wraparound floaty dress.
This Polka dot dress, my latest buy. It is by Berkertex for Mayfair. I say it is vintage, but a purist would disagree. They would say it is retro since it is from the 1970s. A Purist thinks a fashion item is not vintage unless it is pre-1960. Retro is anything after this period.
I don’t really care about the distinction in eras.Do you? My intention when buying an item of clothing is not to beautifully frame and mount on a wall. What I care for are items that make me look individual and stylish.
When hunting for vintage or retro clothing, I have a few rules for myself. These rules have always helped me in containing my eagerness to buy. Sometimes I get too excited when I have fallen in love with an item of clothing. My rules bring me back to planet earth. The planet reality!
So, what do I look for?
Smell. The first thing I do is to sniff the item of clothing I have just fallen in love with. If it has a strong mould smell accompanied by brown mould stains. I fall out of love pretty quickly.
Size. I am a a UK 10 but when buying vintage or retro, I am a 14. Today, I am wearing a St Michaels skirt and It has a big red 14 written on its label. When labels are missing, I try items on.
Durability and Sturdiness. As mentioned earlier, I don’t buy vintage clothing for investment. I only buy to wear purely for enjoyment. This means, the material or fabric must be willing and able to withstand my enjoyment. So, I check for holes, weakening in fabric and the washing instructions. These practical checks help in making the decision of either buying or not buying.
Fit. About a year ago, I bought a beautiful handmade vintage dress. The day, I tried to wear it, I couldn’t for two reasons. I could not breathe, and the cotton fabric felt strained – it was just too tight.
Fabric. As a full-time mum and for practical reasons, I generally buy wool and man-made fibres since they wash well and are easier to look after. Very low maintenance.
Out of experience, I only buy what I can wear without any alteration or repairs. I know the repairs or alterations will never be done. I have lots clothes still waiting to be altered!
Lastly, I go for the best that I am able to afford but it MUST be wearable.
These are the main rules I follow. I hope these rules or tips helps you as you venture into the world of vintage or retro.