Three Tips for Buying Vintage Clothing
The best part of buying vintage is wearing vintage!
Like everyone else, I’ve got skeletons in my closet. For me, they are in the form of vintage clothing mistakes. Yes, I’ve made some cardinal errors. I’ve let that palpable excitement drive me to buy an expensive 1920s dress that was falling apart before my very eyes. Like every woman on this planet, buying vintage or new, I’ve bought clothing that was nowhere near my size and more likely to fit a toddler. So, allow me to share some of my vintage buying mishaps. May they save you from some vintage heartache of your own!
1. Folks, let’s be real about the condition: Unless you are an expert seamstress, or own a dry cleaning shop that can work real magic, be realistic about the present condition of the garment. Is the fabric sturdy or does it turn to dust between your fingers? Can those moth holes really be repaired? Consider how much time and money you are willing to invest in professional cleaning or professional tailoring if the garment is in disrepair. You may have to walk away— but it can be really hard!!
2. Does it fit right now? Whether it’s a pair of Victorian high-buttoned boots (how were their feet that narrow?!) or a pair of high-waisted sailor pants, I often marvel at the extremely slim designs of many vintage outfits. My grandmother’s liquid silk 1940’s wedding down fit her 90 pound frame just fine after a bout of Scarlet fever, but had to be altered with added panels for the next generation. You may have fallen in love with a vintage garment, but if you need to lose the equivalent of a small child to fit into it, save yourself a lot of heartache and find something vintage that fits right now. However, if you or someone you know happens to be a talented seamstress, inserting panels and relocating buttons and zippers can be good options.
3. Will I actually wear this? My husband likes to point out that I own precisely one pair of jeans, but enough Edwardian dresses to dash over to Downton Abbey as a last minute houseguest with a steamer trunk full of appropriate clothing. He is right. My practical to impractical clothing ratio hovers around 10% to 90%. I promise you I am trying to improve and lean towards more practical, wearable vintage pieces. Try to focus on wearable vintage pieces that you can incorporate into your daily life. After all, the best part of buying vintage is wearing vintage!
My husband Kells and I traveled to Holland Farms in Cantonment Florida to take in the sunflower fields. My dress is not maternity, but simply a larger size from Macy’s. My Florida winter may look different from yours, but I think white is chic year-round.
For a winter white look, check out this white lace dress from Draper James
My gold, 1920s art deco bracelet is an heirloom from my Great-Grandmother. It is precious to me because it is one of the only pieces of jewelry she ever owned. During the Great Depression, my Great-Grandfather suffered a traumatic brain injury while working in the shipyards in New Jersey. Suddenly, my Great-Grandmother became the breadwinner, with three little girls at home to feed. I wear it proudly and think of her strength and courage.