Hope you’re all doing great.
Today I’m going to indulge myself a little by writing about one of the subjects closest to my heart. Not family, or home, but vintage – is there anything better? Though the last couple of years have seen a vintage explosion, I’ve been a fan of pre-loved clothes since I was a teenager skulking round Oxfam’s doorway, embarrassed to be caught there by my friends. Today’s teenagers need have no such fears – vintage is now as stylish as it gets, stocked everywhere from the high street to random sales that are popping up in bars and halls every weekend.
As far as living the stylish life on a shoestring budget goes, there really is no better way to make yourself stand out from the crowd than to wear vintage. You’re guaranteed not to bump into anyone wearing the same, and the cut and detailing of vintage garments is so superior to today’s high street clothes that it’s more on a par with the quality you’d expect from designers. Plus, it’s amazing value for what you get.
I’ve now been vintage shopping for so long that old clothes make up at least half of my wardrobe – the best half. And today I thought I’d share with you my favourite vintage pieces, along with what they cost (as far as I can remember!), to show just how bargainous vintage can be.
First up, this cape. I bought this is Glasgow retro store, Mr Ben, about three years ago. The label says it’s Welsh wool, and the monochrome pattern looks Celtic to me. , Period-wise, I think it’s from the sixties. It’s white mohair, cosy and always draws compliments. And right now, when I’ve got a baby Skint cooking away, this swingy cape’s better than a coat for covering up and keeping the bump warm. It cost £35 – can you imagine buying something like this new? I reckon it’d be more like £300. Just look at the weaving on the tie collar and pockets – you don’t get craftmanship like that on the high street without paying through the nose for it.
My next best buy is also my newest: these red cowboy boots. Vintage Ralph Lauren, I got them on ebay. I’ve had a bit of a clothes buying moratorium lately – there’s little point when nothing fits. But hey, my feet haven’t changed, so boots are still on the hitlist and these were just what I needed to brighten up this winter and spring. They’re pretty in your face, so I tend to wear them with casual clothes or all black, but the detailing is gorgeous and I know right now that I’ll have them forever. Yep, I’ll be the granny in the red boots, forty years from now. These cost £60, which is more then I usually spend on vintage but they’re great quality leather, and you couldn’t buy a decent pairs of high street boots for that price. Ooh, how I love them.
Flapper dresses are having a moment right now, inspired, I’m guessing by the runaway success of Downton Abbey. But in my book, flappers have never fallen from grace. The twenties and thirties are my favourite fashion decades and when I saw this dress in a church hall jumble sale about fifteen years ago I knew it had to be mine. Swishing those tassels is addictive and I admit, I sometimes take it a little too far! The dress cost me about three pounds, yes siree, and I’ve worn it to some of my most glamorous evenings out. Honestly, it’s worth paying three pounds just to hear how it swishes and to feel the fringes in your fingers. Sometimes I just take it out of the wardrobe and touch it. Right, I’ll stop before I get carried away. (Except to say I’ve posted a gratuitous snap of the fringes at the bottom of this post, because I love them so).
This lush carpet bag was found in a vintage shop in Greenwich. It cost me forty pounds. You couldn’t buy a decent handbag new for that money, certainly not one of this quality. See that little Versace-looking clasp? It’s solidly-stitched and will last forever. I like it better too as it gets a bit battered. Plus, it’s roomy enough for all the stuff I carry around all day, which seems to multiply all the time.
And finally, drumroll please . . . my best-ever vintage buy!I bought this dress twelve years ago in Los Encantes market, Barcelona. I was living in Barca at the time, very skint, and used to visit Los Encantes regularly for clothing bargains, furniture for my flat or just a good snoop around. The place sells everything from rabbit’s ears to communion candles to first edition books, but when I saw this dress, on sale for just 200 pesetas (that’s £1!), I knew it had to be mine. Off the hanger isn’t the best way to show it. The cut is truly fabulous when it’s on, and if I didn’t have such a bump just now I’d demonstrate. Still, believe me, it hangs beautifully. I loved it from the minute I saw it: the drape, the sparkle, the colours. Then, about three years after I bought it I looked properly at the label for the first time and found out that it’s designed by Emilio Pucci. Well, I nearly fainted and promptly phoned my pal Clare to scream my excitement down the phone. Googling the value of vintage Pucci dresses just now I see they’re coming in at around £500. I’m not for selling, but it’s nice to know it’s in my wardrobe just in case hard times strike. Who needs life insurance when you’ve got vintage, eh?
So, those are my top five, costing in total the princely sum of £139, which is roughly what a poorly made high street coat would set you back. See why I love vintage so much? Really, I could wax lyrical all day long, but I shan’t. If the government is ever thinking of introducing the much-needed post of Vintage Tzar or Retro Ambassador, I’ll be there in a jiffy. It’s good for the environment, it’s perfect for these tough financial times and wearing vintage brightens up a trip to the supermarket way more than a tracksuit and a pair of Uggs ever could.
With the return of Mad Men to TV screens this weekend, we can expect the vintage star to rise higher still as the quest to copy Betty and Don’s looks gains heat. For more vintage inspiration, check out Queens of Vintage, Oxfam Vintage and My Vintage, all great sites.
What your best-ever vintage find? Was it a bargain? Or doesn’t vintage float your boat at all? I’m dying to know. Till next time, x
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