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Guest Blogging

Yesterday my good friend Julie over at the Almost Girl blog (almostgirl.coffeespoons.org) asked me to whip up some tips about shopping vintage since the big manhattan Vintage Show is going to happen this weekend. Julie is also Editor-in-Chief of the fabulous Coutorture fashion site (www.coutorture.com). I have copied her post below in full for all of you but please take a moment to go check out both of her sites too! They (like her) are fabulicious!

Doing Vintage Right

October 11th, 2006

Being the owner of an old school hourglass figure means that clothing from a simpler time tends to fit me better than most garments from the here and now. I have a thing for shirtdresses that really goes beyond the pale. I have a tendency to obsessively check out the inventory at Shrimpton Couture and eagerly await emails from Cherie telling me about new items added. My favorite dress in my wardrobe came from Shrimpton Couture.


But outside of Cherie’s well curated stock I admit that I am hesitant to explore vintage much on my own. But this Friday the biggest vintage event in New York is taking place mere blocks away from me at the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show which means it is my duty to go and explore! Cherie tells me that one should keep an open mind when shopping vintage as it isn’t a designer or particular vendor that will capture you but certain pieces that will win your heart and mind. With that in mind I certainly hope I fall in love. But since I am no expert I asked Cherie to give me the top five tips for shopping vintage! Cherie also keeps a blog so check it out.

* Look for seaming – take a minute and check out the construction and how the piece is put together. There are a lot of little tricks to tell a garments age but if you are fairly new at it – the way it is put together is important. So you want well put together seams and a well constructed piece. Fabric is also important – good fabric has a nice weighty feel to it. Take a bit to feel out what you like fabric-wise.
  • Go over the garment with a fine tooth comb, even if you love it – you need to check for holes and rips. Moth holes are not going to go away and older silks can get pretty frail – make sure the piece is sound. Things like a loose seam is Ok – you can sew those up but a big hole or rip that is just off a seam – trust me it will go in the back of your closet and disappear into the abyss. So go over it – don’t be afraid to turn in inside out (carefully) and look it over. For prints you can hold it up to the light to check for pinholes. Having said that I have fallen in love with imperfect pieces and bought them anyway. But its knowing that this is what you are choosing and not going home and finding out there is a big unexpected hole in your back end :-)

*At a show like Manhattan Vintage you will not get a lot of items that are smelly or dirty (hopefully), but do check for stains and smells. Moth ball smells – especially on a synthetic fiber is just not going to come out. That nasty moldy smell – maybe - but probably not. That musty, I have been packed for 40 years – that will come out. Stains are tough – there are a lot that patience and soaking will take out and there are a lot that will never budge (sadly) so if you are not a stain master like moi – ask yourself – will I wear this as is if I can't get the stain out? If the answer is no – pass

*Try it on! Vintage fits very, very different then modern clothes and the sizing is completely different – never mind that most 1950's pieces and older have no sizing (labels where not required by law then). So try it on. And if you are new to vintage use a show to find out your style. Usually what happens is that you will find that one decade seems to suit you perfectly! The irony of vintage is that as you learn more and more about it and find your style “decade” you start to realize how much so-called modern designs are blatant copies of so many vintage pieces! But they are much better made!

  • Know your labels, but remember a label is not everything. Labels can dramatically increase the value of your piece. However, there is a lot of damn good vintage out there that is not labeled. Remember - pre-1960 the majority of pieces (the good stuff at least) were all done by hand. So labeled or no you are getting the equivalent to a bespoke or couture piece of clothing today. That counts for something. The irony of a label is that the label will set the value to it's market price – in other words a good collector can look at a labeled piece and price it almost by sight. An unlabelled piece does not have that restraint. It never hurts though to do a little research and figure out who the main designers are and more importantly how their work, works on you. With vintage its all about what you fall in love with – its sort of like art. Buy because you love it, not because of who made it.

1 comment:

Sandra said...

Great tips Cherie. I'd like to also add that if you see something that strikes your fancy, BUY IT! Because chances are, you'll never see something that fabulous again. Non-buyer's regret is the worst.

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