Thursday, 28 April 2011

*repost* Top Tips for the Vintage Virgin

Copied and pasted from Just cus I thought it was brilliant and everyone needs to know these tips!

1. Don’t judge a Vintage garment until you’ve tried it on.

We are all trained – or is it brainwashed – by mainstream fashion about what clothes are supposed to look like. In the High Street, the range of clothing on offer is limited to what is “this season” and images are everywhere to train your brain into what you are supposed to buy.

In Vintage shops, we respect you as a thinking individual with your own taste and sense of style. Part of Vintage shopping pleasure is the wide range of options we can give you. In a Vintage boutique you will find a 60s trouser suit next to a 40s tea dress, a 70s maxi and a 30s handbag.

It does mean, though, that unless you are one of life’s natural visual thinkers you might not be able easily to imagine yourself into the range of clothes you find. So try them on.

Don’t be scared – it’s only clothes. Anything that is fragile will not be out on the sales floor, and if it is, then it’s down to the shop owner if a seam goes while you are trying something on. Just like any other goods, vintage clothes must be “fit for purpose”.

And if the sales assistant makes you feel uncomfortable & uncool then take your money somewhere else. But if they offer ideas and help – be brave and take it. You might just be surprised.

2. Don’t believe ANY Vintage size label - they are all liars

Natural bodies and the shapes made by our underwear have changed dramatically over the years. For example in 1951 the average British woman stood at just 5’2″, had a bust around 37″, waist 28″ and hips 39″. Her bust and hips were roughly in line and she had a curve in at the waist – the classic hourglass. Garments were designed to flatter this shape which was further defined with bras, girdles, corsets, stays and the like.

These days, women are on average taller and a couple of inches wider in both bust and hips. The major difference is in the waist where we are around 7″ larger. Think about that shape: hips and bust are still roughly in line but the curve of the waist is dramatically reduced. (source)

This doesn’t make our modern bodies “wrong” in any way! It just means the clothes made for previous generations may need to be adapted or worn differently to suit our modern shapes.

So don’t be downhearted if you usually buy a high street size 14 and can’t get into a Vintage dress labeled 18. Go back to the rail and look again – but this time ignore the number.

Most importantly: trust your eyes. You know your body better than any label. You know that modern sizes too are a lie: an 18 in one shop is a 14 in another. They don’t take account of the fact that you have small boobs but a big butt (or vice versa). You know that the average woman for whom garments are sized is a mathematical myth – nothing to do with us and our real bodies.

So keep browsing until your brain says – “yup, that looks like my hips” or “hmm, I think that looks about the size of what I’m wearing”. And then see point 1.

3. You get more wear from vintage - which you might want to think about it when umming & ahhing about the price

Vintage garments have already demonstrated their quality by lasting. It is a simple truth that – unless you are lucky enough to be able to afford designer clothes, today’s garments are made of poorer quality fabric than those in the past.

You know it’s true. If you have ever ironed a Vintage cotton blouse, you know that the end result will be smoother and have more sheen than any blouse you buy today. Don’t believe me? Come to my shop any day and I’ll give you a demo.

And because the Vintage clothes you choose are a real expression of your personal taste and style, you won’t be pushing them to the back of the wardrobe when high street trends change. They will become staples in your wardrobe to be enjoyed for years to come.

So when you are looking at the price tag, on “cost per wear” buying Vintage is your wise financial choice.

4: Don’t be scared to wash a Vintage garment - they have already survived worse than you could ever do

Before the 1950s, clothes were scrubbed by hand in a tub, squeezed dry through a mangle and hung outside. Electric washing machines appeared in the 50s & 60s but water was either boiling hot or luke warm and garments had to endure the spin dryer before going out to dry. The automatic machines we know today came in during the 70s and for a long time offered only inaccurate temperature adjustment as a way of dealing with different textiles & finishes.

Which all goes to say that a modern washing machine with its range of temperatures, “Delicate” and “Wool” cycles, and variable spin speeds is a far kinder wash for vintage clothes than they have experienced in the past. A cool sloosh at 30 degrees in non-bio will do your vintage frock no harm at all.

Of course hand knits, beading and other twiddly bits should be hand washed or dry cleaned – you wouldn’t put your wedding dress in the Zanussi on a boil wash – would you? That said, I have often taken the risk and put a soiled gown in the washing machine to kill or cure, usually with complete success.

If in doubt, take advice from your friendly Vintage seller. She will be able to advise and guide you. If she can’t – find one who can.

5. Alterations are cheaper and easier than you think - TRUTH: most things can be made to fit most people

There are no right ways to wear anything. Part of the pleasure of breaking away from the dictates of high street merchandisers is to make your own choices about what you like and how you want to wear it.

Often, shopping Vintage will be wonderfully easy. You put on a garment, zip it up, fall in love and live happily ever after. But if that zip stops half way up, don’t despair. Firstly think about other ways to wear the garment – do you have to do the zip up? What if you wear the whole thing back to front? Could you take a bigger garment and belt it/roll it up? When the high street merchandisers are not telling you how you are supposed to look, you can look how ever you want!

But if that solution can’t be found, then any good Vintage boutique will be able to work out how your garment can be tucked/pleated/let out/lengthened/shortened to make it work for you. It is pretty rare that a garment can’t be altered and anyone who knows their stuff should be able to guide you. If the Vintage shop you are in doesn’t offer the service themselves, ask them to recommend someone locally who can help you.

Alterations may mean you have to leave your purchase with the shop for a few days, but the thrill of putting on a garment that has been tailored to fit your body makes it absolutely 100% worth the wait. And you never know how uncomfortable your high street clothes are until you do.


So that’s our Top 5 Tips for the Vintage Virgin – someone who likes the idea of wearing vintage clothes but hasn’t yet taken the plunge. If this includes you, why not step into a Vintage store next time you pass one – preferably ours! There is never any obligation to buy and you may just end up surprising yourself.

Remember - visit!

1 comment:

  1. Hey! Just wanted to let you know that I've tagged you in my latest blog post!