Thursday, October 28, 2010

Why Vintage?

Why I love vintage: the color, the pattern of this fabric, the details of draping and tailoring, fabric quality, the uniqueness, the proportion perfect for a tall frame like mine...the list goes on.
My friends who purchase their clothes from an online retailer, the mall, or even a chic expensive boutique scrunch their noses up at the thought of vintage." Someone else has worn that! Ew!"

Exactly why this is a poisonous thought, I am not sure. If you've ever stayed in a hotel, I guarantee the towels and sheets you are wrapping your naked body in have touched FAR more creepy things than a dress that was tucked away in a chest for decades.

If you can manage to get over the thoughts about someone else wearing a piece of clothing before, you will be opening yourself to a whole new world of wardrobe possibilities--and in my world, far better possibilities.
The word "vintage" is unfortunately overused, abused and misunderstood at this point. I've heard people define vintage as "old, mildewed stuff" to "the highest quality antique garments," and everything in between. For my purposes, "vintage" is something wearable that is at least 20 years old (and that is s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g it). I marvel at the "vintage 80s" stuff so prevalent in vintage stores these days, but then, owners have to supply for the demand. Vintage used to denote the best of an era, and to some of us, it still does.

So why should you try vintage? Here's my top 7:

1. Nothing is 'greener' than utilizing clothes that might otherwise be thrown away. Same goes for buildings: why be wasteful? Don't knock it down or throw it out and start over? If it's not working for you the way it is, you can alter a couple of things and still use it!

2. Quality of fabric and 3. Quality of construction- bottom line, unless you are spending thousands on couture--and even then I question the quality level if you were to compare side by side--the quality of garments that are at least 50 years old are superior to those of today. There are fabrics that do not seem to be manufactured anymore. Try on a vintage satin nightgown and you will know what I mean! Seeing (and touching) is believing. Also, it has to be couture these days to have all the little details and be constructed by hand. Not so with vintage. Intricate details, like an extra snap at the bustline or waistline (to make sure a garment lays in the most flattering way) are de rigeur in the clothing of yesteryear.

Fully lined, with boning, to ensure the dress lays the way the designer intended.
4. Tailoring- if you are not a tall stick figure weighing less than 100 pounds, the clothes of today are by and large, not desgined for you. Oh sure, they will amp up the size for you to pour yourself into, but the designs rareley pay homage to the myriad body types out there. Yes there are a few brands that cater to the badonk a donk of the non-white-emaciated-supermodel ilk, but that is the exception, not the rule. When you go vintage shopping, you actually have a chance of finding a dress that belonged to a lovely lady shaped just like you...50+years ago. And that prospect excites the hell out of me!

This color is fantastic and check out the neck detail that would be too time consuming for a mass produced piece. You can also see how meticulously this was tailored.
5. Colors- You will find the most vibrant solids and interesting color combinations and fabric designs on vintage racks. You will no longer be tethered to the dictated color palette of this season, or stand out for your allegiance to the previous season's colors, but you can paint with a brush that says "I don't care what color the magazines say are hot this season." If you look great in green, don't wait for the shade you like to come back around in 5 years. Go find it in vintage, because guaranteed: it's out there waiting for you!

6. Details- Oh how I adore the details of vintage clothing. Buttons, extra embroidery, beadwork, blingy (high quality) rhinestones or pearls--anything that would make a similar garment today prohibitively expensive for we average gals can be found on vintage garments. And they make the garment look expensive and unique.

The ruching at the bustline, the piping under the bustline, the design of the fabric and the thin around-the-neck strap are all details rarely found outside of vintage. This is perfect for a girl with great shoulders and back.
7. One-of-a-kind- speaking of this point, virtually all vintage is one-of-a-kind. When it's your obsession, as it is mine, you will eventually find a fabric employed on a garment that you've seen used in a different style garment, but by and large, you may consider any vintage purchase one-of-a-kind. If you don't like to show up wearing the same thing as someone else (think of the magazines of today asking which star 'wore it best'?) then vintage should definitely be in your repertoire!

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