So, after an accidental and impromptu two-week holiday (time just got away from me!), I’m back and ready for the last few weeks of my A-Z of a vintage girl in a modern world. And of course, there’s only one thing I could talk about this week, and that’s vintage!
You may remember my post about reproduction brands a few weeks ago, and while there are some cracking brands around (and it’s much easier to get hold of reproduction outfits in my size), there’s something a little bit special about true vintage. Not only can you be fairly certain you won’t meet someone wearing exactly the same thing, vintage clothes also come with history. If you’re lucky, the person you buy from may be able to tell you a bit about who used to own it, but if not, then you’re perhaps even luckier, as you get to make it up yourself!
I first started adding vintage to my wardrobe through handbags – I found one at a vintage fair in Bath, which I loved, then happened to see a post from Jools the Vintage Bag Lady, who I now buy most of my bags from (I have my suspicions that she has a secret room in her house that’s stuffed full of handbags).
Jools really loves her bags, and generally knows what I’m looking for before i do. She specialises in 1960s bags (plus a range of clip-on earrings and gloves to match!), but is getting in more 1950s items now, which worked out very well for me – my most recent purchase was the bag I used for Miss Vintage, which I love very, very much and which I sometimes take out and stroke when I’ve had a bad day.
I’m forming a rather nice collection of vintage handbags, with a mix of classy and novelty, so there’s something for almost every outfit (if The Boy asks though, tell him I still need a few – he’ll only complain next time I hit etsy otherwise).
I’ve now moved onto hats, having bought one a few months ago from the lovely Sophie, another Miss Vintage competitor. It’s ruddy lovely, and since then I’ve got a bit…well. I’ve purchased a few.
And then, of course, there’s the jewellery. Brooches, pearls, and – more recently – clip-on earrings (my nan used to have an enormous collection, and I always wondered why she never got her ears pierced. Now, I know better – because clip-on earrings are awesome!). Here’s my little haul from Summer of Vintage this year, including another lovely accessory – my first parasol!
I used to assume that, because of my measurements (and love of the three Cs – cake, crisps and chocolate), I’d struggle to find true vintage from the 1940s and 1950s in my size. Oh, how wrong I was! It’s trickier, of course, but through eBay, etsy, local charity shops, a few Facebook groups and some very lovely friends, I’m gathering a really rather nice (and extensive) true vintage wardrobe.
Two of my very favourites – a mint green silk dress, and a late 50s checked suit – were finds from my friends. I initially walked away from the green dress, until my friend Catherine assured me I was mad, and the suit was found by the lovely Holly in a Folkestone charity shop. That was a VERY excited telephone call! I’ve found skirts by asking in the local charity shops if they have any vintage ‘out the back’ (it doesn’t tend to sell in my little town, which is great news for me), and I’ve found a few bargains on eBay too.
I even nabbed my first true vintage petticoat on etsy, which is probably the prettiest piece of underwear I’m ever going to own. Look at the detail (and ignore my cuddly Dalmatian, who very kindly acted as petticoat-displayer)!
When looking for vintage clothing, if at first you don’t succeed, please try, and try again. You might have a hugely successful day (like the trip to London with Holly which resulted in this little haul and my employing her as my vintage stylist), or you might come back with nothing, but it’s such good fun – and the rush when you find something you adore is like finding your wedding dress all over again! And don’t be too wedded to eras – the blue and red check dress below is almost certainly 80s-does-50s, and I adore it.
And, a little piece of advice that might sound like I’m encouraging you to spend – if you see something you like, buy it. You can always sell it on if you get it home and find it doesn’t actually work for you, but if someone else snaps it up, you might always regret it.
I actually learned this lesson at an early age, during a family holiday to Hunstanton. My sister saw a gymnast Barbie on our first day, and my mum encouraged her to hold onto her holiday money, as she wouldn’t be able to buy anything else. We went back on the last day, and they’d sold out. My sister has talked about that doll for the last 23 years, and only stopped when she finally managed to get hold of one on eBay a couple of years ago.
And finally, my recommendations if you’re just getting into vintage and don’t know where to start:
- Go for accessories – they’re a nice way to dip your toe in, can look great styled with reproduction or entirely modern outfits, and look ruddy marvellous.
- There are also plenty of books to help you get started – the Style Me Vintage range is wonderful, with separate books for eras, hair, clothes, accessories, make up and home.
- Have fun – try new things, embrace your shape, and enjoy!