Perhaps nowhere is the obsession with youth and the young and the shiny and new more intense than in Hollywood. Botox anyone? And yet - Hollywood is also into the old and used… well, at least when it comes to vintage clothing. Vintage has never been more popular. Nicole Richie, Sarah Jessica Parker, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are just a few stars who love the whole Retro Chic vibe.
Melody Fortier, author of “The Little Guide To Vintage Shopping” says there are a few reasons why vintage is so popular. “First is the desire for individual style,” Melody says. “So many of today’s trendsetters are turning to vintage because it’s a great way to find really great one of a kind clothing and accessories. Winona Ryder, Drew Barrymore and Julia Roberts are all vintage fans and it’s names like this that have prompted the style conscious to turn an eye to clothing from earlier eras. The fact that it’s 100% green is another attraction and in today’s economy where people are watching their pennies, many are recognizing the value to be found. Prices aren’t always cheaper than today’s clothing, but because older clothing was so well made and used such wonderful fabrics you tend to get things that look much more expensive than their price.”
Here are Melody’s tips for shopping vintage:
1. You can’t shop vintage by size because sizing has changed over the years. Ideally it’s best if you can try things on in a well-lit area with a full length mirror. If you shop online you need to know your measurements. A good online dealer will help you determine fit from measurements. Make sure they have a return policy just in case. If you shop the flea market and can’t try on, bring a tape measure and measure the garment. Then compare the numbers to your own. (See Melody’s book for tips on how to measure yourself properly).
2. Each era has it’s own signature silhouettes. Savvy vintage shoppers familiarize themselves with the eras and styles that work best for their body type. Sure, some people can wear anything and look great, but most of us find that certain styles flatter better than others. This takes practice so if you are new to vintage, I suggest you hit the stores and try lots of things on. Shopkeepers can be very helpful and often have good suggestions.
3. It’s important to check an item over for condition before you buy. Hard to notice, little flaws might not bother you but you should take the time to make sure there is nothing major. Check the seams for rips and hold things up to the light to see if there are any holes. Look for stains, especially under the arms. If an item has a dusty smell it will come out with a good cleaning, but body odor sometimes never does. Note: Older (pre-40s) vintage can be very fragile and not suited for wearing. If the fabric has sharp splits (called shattering) that’s bad news.
4. Prices for vintage are all over the place and sometimes it’s hard to know what to pay. I have a simple rule; don’t pay any more than you would for the same type of garment at a modern store. Do expect to pay more (sometimes a LOT more) for important designer labels and if an item is super trendy the price will be higher because of supply and demand.
5. Bring your imagination with you! Vintage is about creating your own style. Don’t be afraid to mix things up and keep in mind that less is more. For casual wear, head to toe vintage is nearly impossible to pull off without looking like you are in costume. If you are not quite ready to jump into clothing, vintage offers an endless supply of cool accessories. Handbags, jewelry, scarves, hats and shoes… you name it. We all know that fabulous accessories make an outfit.
For more information on Melody Fortier go to www.tangerineboutique.com.