Far from your Granny’s ratty old party dresses, these days going vintage is a test of style authentication. Can you pull off that blast from the fashion past and make it look effortlessly fabulous and timeless? Want to get your hands on something historically chic but don’t know where to start, look, or how to buy?
Technically defined as an item at least 20 years old, in fashion the term vintage is commonly used to refer to the most exceptional of pieces designed between the 1920’s and the mid 1980’s. So expect your vintage piece to be a fashion investment. Not to be confused with thrift store bargain hunting, shopping for a great vintage item can actually run a bit costly. Vintage pieces are usually top quality in fabrics and detailing and have been well restored and cared for. Although you shouldn’t expect mint condition, save yourself headache by taking into consideration the color, fabric, zipper, buttons and added special detailing before making that purchase. Will it be almost impossible to replace or find? Keep in mind these are rare finds so spending a lot on a nice-looking piece that needs work may be worth reconsidering if you plan on getting a few wears out of it. Quality and integrity should be your first priority.
Industry sizing standards are constantly changing and have come a long way over the last 20 years. As a result, the most common tip you’ll hear in vintage shopping is size matters! Shopping online? Be sure to have the exact measurements for yourself and the piece you’re interested in buying. As these pieces can be hard to have altered or repaired you want to make sure you’ve found the piece that’s perfectly fitted for your body.
Now what do I look for?
Finding the perfect item is half the battle! Cleaning and maintaining are next on the checklist. You’ll want to take great care of your piece to retain the fabric and more importantly the character. As it may be hard to find or read care labels in much older pieces your best bet for washing cotton would be to use a mild detergent and lowest drying temperature. Wash delicates like rayon, silk and lace by hand in cold water and air dry. Vintage Guild experts suggest using unscented padded hangers, avoiding light, smoke and animal hair when storing your piece.
But, before you head out to that fancy vintage boutique you’d be surprised to find the season’s hottest trends already stashed in the back of your Mom’s or even your own closets. As goes for history, fashion trends inevitably repeat themselves.