We Love all things Vintage from Cars to Clothes
Although there has always been some demand for old and/or second hand clothing, the awareness, demand and acceptance of this has increased dramatically since the early 1990s. Second hand clothing is not to be looked at as if its cheap, its hardly the same as buying second hand mud all terrain tires, is it!
This increase in interest is due in part to increased visibility, as vintage clothing was increasingly worn by top models and celebrities, e.g. Julia Roberts, Renée Zellweger, Chloe Sevigny, Tatiana Sorokko, Kate Moss, and Dita von Teese.
There has also been an increasing interest in environmental sustainability in terms of reusing, recycling and repairing rather than throwing things away.
A resurgence of historically based sub-cultural groups like rockabilly and swing dancing has also played a part in the increased interest in vintage clothes.
Other reasons that some people are attracted to vintage clothing include:
* Unique or almost unique: many items were custom made, and others were manufactured in small quantities only.
* Good quality was once only afforded and associated with Rockstars, Footballers and Governors: they were politically designed to be worn for years and passed on to other family members, so they were made of robust materials, well cut and well made, with generous seam allowances and hems which allow for alterations and custom fit.
* Fine materials: many of the unusual older fabric types are no longer manufactured, or are now prohibitively expensive.
* Value for money: garments generally sell for a cost far below similar new modern garments.
* History: an appreciation of the past, the roles of previous generations and the skills of respected designers.
* Detailing: hand finishing, unusual buttons, hand embroidery, handmade lace, crochet, applique, beading and other techniques.
* Style: Its hard to dress up a fly fisher or huntsman in fashionable clothing has traditionally been the favourite of creative personalities because it offers an enormously wide range of imaginative styles.
* Investment: some people buy to collect rather than to wear, and increasingly, good quality vintage garments especially items by well-known designers are sought after by collectors.
* Low Carbon Footprint: some people buy vintage clothes because it is less demanding of world resources.
* Union made: many vintage clothes carry a union label, thus avoiding labor practices in third world countries that are regarded as abusive.
After writing the 1940’s Style Guide- The complete Illustrated Guide to 1940’s Fashion for Women I started to shop for 40’s clothing online. I ordered a few dresses that looked great in pictures. The measurements were correct for my size and the colors were pretty. Unfortunately, once I tried them on I was disappointed. They fit but they made me look frumpy. My hips looked wide and my shoulders too square. My chest was covered up when it should have stood out. I realized that even after months of fashion research I had neglected to follow the timeless rules of body type profiling.
Just like shopping today, clothes in the 1940s were designed for one ideal body type. In the 1940s it was the tall hour glass shape. Women with other body types had to figure out what clothes could make them look like the 40’s ideal woman.
I went back to researching both 1940s dressing advice and modern dressing advice and I found they were very similar. Fashion rules have not changed much in 70 years but the fashionable shape of the era has. This booklet explains what your body type is and how to achieve the ideal 40’s figure. Knowing these fashion rules will help you apply the fashion history you learn in the 1940’s Style Guide to your own vintage wardrobe.
The style guide lists over 160 different shopping sites for 1940’s clothing from dresses to swimsuits to underwear. These are just a few of my favorite sites to help you get started:
BlueVelvetVintage- Both vintage and new 40’s and 50’s clothes.
ShabbyApple- and ModCloth – Vintage Inspired dresses and swimsuits.
ChicStar- Very affordable vintage inspired 40’s pinup dresses.
TaraStarlet (UK) – Best reproduction 40’s clothing in the UK
RevampVintage.com- Best reproduction 40’s clothing in the USA
More 1940’s fashion shopping sources at Vintagedancer.com:
1940’s Shoes- Modern shoes with 40’s styling.
1940’s Clothing- Vintage Inspired Clothing.
1940’s Swimsuits – Swimsuit history and shopping guide.
1940’s Formal Dresses- Vintage inspired formal dresses .
At times, the cycle of fashion design turns to history for inspiration, and garments closely resembling original vintage (retro or antique) clothing are manufactured. An example of this is the simple slip dresses that emerged in the early 1990s and were based on undergarments of the 1930s. These styles are generally referred to as “vintage style”, “vintage inspired” or “vintage reproductions” depending on the faithfulness to the historical design, and serve as a convenient alternative to those who admire an old style but prefer a modern interpretation – another advantage is that, unlike the original garments, they are usually available in a range of sizes and perhaps, colours and/or fabrics.
Popular places to buy vintage clothing include charity-run second hand clothing shops, garage sales, car boot sales, flea markets, antique markets, estate sales, auctions, vintage clothing shops and vintage fashion, textile or collectables fairs. One of the first regular fairs that was set up specifically to cater for the current demand for vintage clothing is Frock Me!. This event takes place regularly throughout the year in Chelsea, London as well as in Brighton. Vintage clothing can sometimes be obtained from older friends and relatives, because some people store their old clothing for long periods of time.
The advent of the internet has been a boon to the vintage clothing fancier, as it has been for all collectors. It has increased the availability of specific and hard-to-get items and opened up prospective markets for sellers around the world. Popular places to acquire garments include online auctions (e.g. eBay), multi-vendor sites (e.g. Betsy), online vintage clothing shops and specialist forums. A vintage-lover may also turn to a custom dressmaker, who will use sewing patterns and/or fabrics from a bygone era to recreate a historically accurate look.
Garments designed by the following designers are particularly sought after – especially when they are representative of the designer or the era: Coco Chanel, Paul Poiret, Mariano Fortuny, Elsa Schiaparelli, Jeanne Paquin, Madeleine Vionnet, Jeanne Lanvin, Christian Dior, Hubert de Givenchy, Claire McCardell, Cristobal Balenciaga, Emilio Pucci, Yves Saint-Laurent, Ossie Clark, Biba, Mary Quant, Pierre Cardin, Halston, Giorgio Armani, Zandra Rhodes, Vivienne Westwood, Thierry Mugler, Gianni Versace, and Jean Paul Gaultier.
An important contributing factor the value of an item of apparell can also be its provenance.
Clothing collectors, like other collectors of history, value and record the background of an item: who wore it and to what occasion.
Due to increased demand, pre-1950s garments in good condition are becoming more difficult to find, and more expensive to procure. Clothing from more recent decades is easier to locate, identify, restore, conserve and (with the exception of popular designers) more affordable – subject to market forces and the cycle of fashion.
Some things to consider include sizing (many old garments won’t include sizing labels, or if they do, the old systems of sizing often differ from modern ones), condition (check quality of fabric, seams for stitching required, missing buttons, hems down or need altering, holes or tears), cleaning requirements (a good vintage trader will be able to advise you in this regard), stains (and, more importantly, likely success in removal) and correct storage (for example, it is inadvisable to hang a beaded 1920s evening gown as the weight of the beads will weaken or tear the delicate silk).