Slideshow Widget

Building A Vintage Wardrobe: 101

Wednesday, July 14, 2010




Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post. I really enjoyed reading your answers about why you love vintage, what kinds of things you wear and what you're on the look-out for! Weather we wear authentic vintage every day or mix accessories with our favorite jeans, we all have the same love love for historical fashions.

Some of you may not know this, but I really am a vintage fashion newbie! Seriously, I've only been wearing vintage regularly for the past 8 months. I had a lavender 1950's wool coat in high school, a few hats just because they're pretty and a tunic from Greece that my grandparents brought home in the 70's. I had some vintage/antique jewelry from my great great grandma too.

The real vintage obsession only began this past December and through research, thrifting like a mad woman and -literally- dreaming about vintage, I've built up a pretty good vintage wardrobe in the past 8 months!

The addiction began right here in blogland. I stumbled upon a few blogs and starting reading the blogs on everyone' blog rolls. I felt like Miss Packman, munching away on all of the tidbits of information, photos and online stores as I went along my path. (*yum, yum, yum,*) But even with all of the great vintage fashionistas on the web, how do you begin building a good vintage wardrobe? Beinga curvy girl only added to the difficulty. My first trip to a vintage clothing store left me dazed with all of their beaded cardigans, go-go boots and of course, I knew of no one who could give me a little instruction on the subject so I did what I usually do and turn to my fashion history books for a helping hand.

For you vintage newbies like me and for you long time vintage lovers taking inventory of your closets, this is the beginning of the 10 part series: "Building a Vintage Wardrobe". I hope it inspires, provides good information and helps us all to build a fabulous vintage wardrobe. It won't happen over night. It takes most vintage enthusiasts years to build a dream wardrobe and even then, the job is never really complete but that's part of the fun of it! As a fashion-lover, your closet will evolve with you. The best part of wearing vintage is the thrill of the hunt so if you only find one or two great things when you go out, that's okay! Take it slowly and choose wisely. Shop like you're counting calories. Take your time to look at the garment before you check out. Try it on, hold it for a while. Savor it like a sliver of chocolate and if you want more, pull out the wallet!


Rules of Vintage
I wrote up these simple rules of vintage that I use when I go shopping. They help me to make good purchases and avoid anything terribly hideous because I am often drawn to incredibly ugly things!

1.) Just because it's vintage doesn't mean that it looks good! It doesn't matter how rare it is, how old it is, how cheap it is. If it's downright ugly, do not buy it! This is the single most important rule of vintage. I bring a friend or my husband along to help me make good choices because I often think "Maybe I could rock this!" If in doubt, ask a perfect stranger!
2.)Is it in good "vintage condition"? When it comes to wearing 60 year old clothing, we're bound to come across a few moth holes, a missing button, a bit of discoloration, and so on. That's okay but don't be seen wearing a 60 year old rag. Learn to hand sew so that you can repair minor flaws and if a garment is falling to pieces, don't be afraid to ditch it! (I will be adding vintage hand-sewing lessons in the near future!!)
3.)Always ask questions. This is a very important rule to follow when shopping online. Don't hesitate to send a message to a seller and ask about the garment's history, age and condition. Ask if there is a label available so that you can attempt to date the garment. A lot of sellers claim that something is "vintage" which can mean that it's a vintage dress from the 80's or 90's! While the etsy difinition of vintage is 20 years or older, make sure that online sellers provide as much info as possible before you hit the "pay now" button.
4.) Is the price right? If a garment is dirt cheap, find out why! It could just be a really good deal or it could be that there's something wrong with it. If the garment is pricey, ask yourself if it really is a good buy for what it is. Shop around and know what items are worth before making any major purchases.
5.) Does the shoe fit? If it doesn't fit well, it's a no! This is especially important for voluptuous and tall girls. If you're a thin lady and it's too big, you may be able to take it in and fit it properly. If it's a tad too small, there may be room to let it out. If it's too short, check the hem to see if there is fabric to let down (I do this all the time). In the end, if it just doesn't fit right, you won't feel confident in it. Confidence is key when it comes to looking your best. Also, try to not buy something with the intention of fitting into it one day. Use your hard-earned cash to buy things that you can wear today. You wouldn't buy a size 5 shoe if you wear a 10! The "I'll wear it someday" clothes depress me, so I get rid of them to make room for things I can wear now that make me feel happy and pretty.
6.) Give Back! Donate, trade or sell what you don't wear anymore. Pass neglected vintage on to friends who will get more use out of them or add a "shop my closet" post on your blog or facebook. Some vintage clothing stores will trade your vintage clothes for store credit. You're helping others by giving them new inventory and it's a great way to lighten your closet to make room for new goodies!




First Steps to Building a Vintage Wardrobe

1.)Choose an Era....or Don't! Some vintage lovers have a particular era or time line that they are drawn to. Some just love fashion history so they do a mix of everything and choose to not be tied down to one idea. For me, I love anything from the 20's-50's but lately, I have been focusing on the 1940's. If you are drawn to a certain era, do your research about that time period.

2.)Research eras of interest
by reading books, watching movies and of course, surfing the web for information and photos. One of my favorite ways to study historical fashions is to collect old photographs and visit antique shops. There, you can often inspect and garment with your hands to see how it was sewn, what it's made of, etc. It's like an interactive history museum! When touching really old clothing, make sure that it's okay with the store owner and always be VERY VERY gentle. Treat these things like it's the holy grail and inspect with delicate touch and freshly washed and dried hands.

3.) Know your fabrics
-Learning about fabrics can help you to determine the date of a garment and how to wash them. Learn about identifying mystery fabrics through the burn method here, Read about types of fabrics here learn to wash fabrics here


4.) Which Colors and Patterns Were Used- Popular colors and patterns of an era can also help to determine the age of a garment. If you are partial to a certain era, knowing what colors and patterns to wear will help you to develop a style that pertains to that time period. You can read about fabrics and colors from the 20's to 50's here

5.)Learn How to Date Vintage Clothing- If you're going for a 30's look and are buying clothing from the 80's, that probably won't get you very far. Learn how to tell how old a garment is before you buy so that you can fill your wardrobe with pieces to complete your desired look. I always depend on The Vintage Fashion Guild for great tips and advice on dating vintage items. * we'll cover dating vintage in more detail at a later date


6.)Find Inspiration by reading other blogs, vintage magazines, and watch movies and tv shows from your era to give yourself an idea of how to pair garments and how to accessorize. Other blogs can be a great source for vintage shopping spots too! I have an enormous blogroll of some of the best vintage fashionistas, go check them out!



Next "Building a Vintage Wardrobe" post: Blouses and Tops

20 Responses to “Building A Vintage Wardrobe: 101”

  1. great informative post, thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh I am so excited about this series. Sometimes I just feel overwhelmed about how to go about building my wardrobe! Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks, ladies! I'm excited about writing it! It's a lot of information but I think a good break-down of "what's what" is needed desperately! I hope to learn a thing or two along the way also! :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks so much! This series is going to be super helpful! :D

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi sweetie! I just found your blog and am loving it. What a great post about building a vintage wardrobe! I look forward to reading more, and will definitely be checking out your shop for goodies!

    Sue

    ReplyDelete
  6. What an absolutely fantastic post! Thanks for all the great information :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you for a great post. Even though I have been collecting vintage for years, I always need a reminder of these basic tips and they were fantastic. I especially like the one about getting the clothes to fit. I have to pay a lot to get clothes altered as I am kind of an odd shape but it is so worth it when they fit perfectly and you reminded me why - wellfitted clothes = confidence! Thank you! Maria

    ReplyDelete
  8. Had to share this with my readers!

    http://star-spangledheart.blogspot.com/2010/07/vintage-wardrobe-tutorial.html

    ReplyDelete
  9. Very nice! You and I are alike in being a research fiend. When I get hooked on an era I get HOOKED and devour every book or movie I can find.

    Hey, have you seen the movie Four Jills in a Jeep yet? If not, make sure to rent it. It's a gas.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great tips! I have been buying vintage for quite a few years now, but definitely still have much to learn! Thanks for this ;)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Some brilliant tips there!

    I have to say though, that if it's just the look that you want I never discard clothes just because they're from the wrong decade!

    The 70s did the 30s look very well and the 80s did the 50s very well, for instance. Once they're properly accessorised the look really works and they're often in better condition and more hardwearing fabric!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Tart Deco- thanks for the movie suggestion! I will add it to my netflix list!
    Retro Chick- I couldn't agree more!! You read my mind because I'll be mentioning this topic in my next posts. I just picked up about 5 1970's dresses last week. They have a very 40's feel to them with gathered shoulders, below-the-knee hem, some with a little puff in the sleeve or tie neck. They're fabulous because they're machine washable so if I get applesauce thrown all over me by my little girl, I don't have to break out the oxy clean. 60's-80's clothes are also curvy-gal friendly because you can find things with an older style in larger sizes and for a better price! Not to mention, by etsy standards (and in my opinion) 60's-80's is still vintage! :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Holy cow Brittany -- how you were feeling 8 months ago is how I am feeling RIGHT NOW. I've been vintage inspired throughout my life, but its never really been anything more than what people would call "a weird quirk" than a way of life until now. You're post gives me hope!

    ReplyDelete
  14. This is a great idea! Even, as you said, for those who have been into vintage a little longer. Sometimes, I think it's good to have a reminder, especially if you're going through a slightly tighter period financially!
    -Andi x

    ReplyDelete
  15. Really great tips! I'm pretty new to everything, so this is really great and educational. Great post! :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. thank you so so much for this post. I got into vintage about 4 months ago now and am desperate to thoroughly embrace it like you have but I simply do not have ANY money right now.

    I have a blog but I'm on haitus from it currently, but I hope to utilise your tips when I have some money and return.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Good Stuff!!!! I have collected vintage clothes for years and wear them. I collect vintage hats, purses, gloves, coats, etc., etc., etc. Its kinda hard to find good vintage dresses in my area. I am in a farming area and they didn't dress up much. Most of my vintage came from California when my daughter was living there.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thank you for all the great tips!
    I think my next step is a big wardrobe cull so I can make room for new finds. :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. This was good reading Ms. B. It looks as if you and I share the same body type and I always felt it was difficult, at best, to find vintage that fits my shape/size. Thankfully Mamma taught me to sew. Though my garments won't be vintage; they will be vintage inspired and that's good enough for this girl on a limited to none budget.

    Keep up the good work. Your blog is nice.

    ReplyDelete
  20. This is very very useful for a vintage newbie like me too! Thanks a bunch!
    http://tifferie.wordpress.com/

    ReplyDelete

I read every single comment (even on old posts) and they make my day! If you have a question, please email me at brittanyvavoomvintage@gmail.com. Thank you for reading me!