The road to discovering your inner vintage queen
Excuse me? Vintage? Wearing old clothes just does not sound appealing. Oh, but darling… it should! Well, if you’ve been paying attention to fashion over the years… like history, it repeats itself. What’s even more ironic is that fashion trends go out of style so quickly you have an endless rotation of inventory for another season – but a big mistake is when folks trash staple pieces.
Speaking of trashing, do you know how much clothing ends up in landfills? Vintage is unique; while it’s not impossible to find duplicates, it is highly unlikely. Lastly, the quality. Many people did not live in excess as we do now. Clothes were made to last – which is the reason why they’ve made it to 50, 60, 70 years and are STILL being worn daily.
Growing up, I often fantasized over the style and glamour of older movies and dreamt of one day being a woman who would embody the starlets I saw. Effortless beauty, grace, and stunning silhouettes that fashion dynamos such as Chanel and Christian Dior used to celebrated women post WW II. I did not have someone to guide me, so my style remained contemporary with only nods to retro style until I figured out my niche. I joined the Air Force and it eventually led me to Lackland AFB, San Antonio, TX and there – my style started to emerge. I did my first pin-up photoshoot, got a bunch of retro style tattoos, purchased my first series of retro style vintage dresses. Vintage is now in many parts of my life, from the music I listen to, home décor, my personal wardrobe, my business, and the rest, darling dames, is history.
Wait, vintage and retro are not the same things?!
While often used interchangeably, there is a difference between the terms and what they mean. Retro is simply an item or garment that is new but made to look old. Vintage is considered anything typically over 20 years. Oh yes, something from 2000 is considered vintage – let that sink in.
The original forever bedazzled Juicy Couture sweatpants – VINTAGE! JENCO jeans – VINTAGE. Oh, and those lovely Von Dutch trucker hats – VINTAGE. May we all let them rest in peace.
Vintage goes back about 80 years. Being that it is 2020, vintage technically stretches back to the year 1940. Beyond 80 years items typically fall into the antique category.
Depending on the era, foundational garments, sizing variations/differences, and tailoring over the years need to be considered. The older the garment is, the deeper the looks should go, meaning are you wearing shapewear, slips, bullet bras (and the cup forms!).
Sizing is the next item to consider. Vintage sizes are not typically the same. The older the garment, typically, the larger the size gap. For example, I typically wear a modern size 10, but when I wear styles ranging from the 1950s-1970s, my size from these eras range (assuming they are not handmade or tailored, and there is a tag) from 14-18.
Knowing your body’s measurements is key when purchasing – older vintage items often do not have the “give” in the material like new garments and can be delicate. Forcing vintage material does carry the risk of tearing or damaging the item.
If you find yourself in this position and before trashing, I strongly encourage employing a local trusted tailor or doing research within the vintage community for self-repair or repurpose. If you decide to search in person, I recommend checking with relatives, thrift shops, and estate sales; however, these items will not often be in the same condition as found in many vintage shops.
If you choose to go the “no work/less work” route, I recommend antique, vintage, and online shops. Online shops can be found in locations like Etsy, eBay, Rubylane, Instagram, and Facebook. Search the hashtags, be sure to ask questions if generic sizes are given, and understand that these items will often have “normal vintage wear”, if this phrase is used. Most vendors are happy to answer questions to ensure you have a great purchasing experience.
Vintage items are treasures and can be worn with new pieces. It is so much fun digging through antique shops and thinking about the story behind the piece and wearing it proudly. Embrace vintage and love the glamour. It is still around for a reason. Until next time, Darling Dames. XO
Instagram handle: @darlingdamevintage