Why Everybody Who's Anybody is Wearing Vintage Clothing (And How
You Can Too)
It used to be that vintage clothes were only worn by those folks
who couldn't afford to go shopping at the mall. Not anymore!
Today, some vintage clothes can carry high price tags that rival
those of the hottest designers. At the same time, a lot of
clothes hanging in stores at the mall don't look a whole lot
different than the ones I sort through in thrift stores!
What's going on?
First, in fashion today, pretty much anything goes. Sure there
will always be "trendy" items that get featured in magazines but
more than ever, a confident woman has permission to wear
anything and everything that catches her fancy. In fact, mixing
high-end designer clothes with thrift store finds is becoming an
In addition, more and more celebrities are being photographed
wearing vintage pieces and America loves to mimic its
celebrities. From Julia Roberts' gorgeous Valentino Oscar gown
to Sierra Miller's boho look to the Olsen twins' cut-up and
otherwise recycled vintage outfits, as we see more celebrities
embracing vintage fashion, we start to embrace it, too.
The recent popularity of vintage clothing is probably also do to
what we're seeing in the latest fashion pages. For example, last
spring embroidered tunics were all the rage. Similar embellished
blouses were popular in the sixties and seventies and you can be
sure that at least some of the ones you saw strutting down the
street were vintage pipeces purchased on Ebay or at one of the
many internet clothing boutiques.
This fall, fur, slouch boots and Victorian looks are popular.
All of these are available in vintage pieces that will most
often cost less than what you'll pay for a new version at the
Just the other day I was asked by a total stranger if my skirt
was by Prada. Uhhh nope--it was a no-name vintage piece I picked
up for a few dollars. You can experience the same thrill of
being complimented on your outfit or handbag and being able to
smile politely and say, "Thank you--it's vintage!"
So what are you waiting for? If you've never worn vintage
before, perhaps now is the time to start. Here's some tips for
the Vintage Newbie:
1. START SMALL.
Before investing in a vintage Pucci swimsuit, try picking up a
smaller, less expensive item--perhaps a scarf, newsboy cap or
2. BUY WHAT YOU LOVE.
Forget what the magazines say are "in." If you absolutely love
the way it looks and feels on you, and you know you'll wear it,
3. BUY IT NOW.
Vintage pieces are one-of-kind. I learned the hard way to be
decisive. By the time you get home and call the store to ask
them to hold that perfect dress, it could be gone and it may be
years before you see another one like it. If you're bidding on
eBay, consider using an auction snipe service so you don't lose
4. CONDITION IS KING.
Unless you have fabulous sewing skills or are best buddies wth
an excellent seamstress, be sure to factor in the cost of
alterations and repairs for any piece you're interested in
purchasing. With some vintage clothes, you'll pay a premium for
that "lived in" factor. A shiny black leather jacket just
doesn't complete the look in some cases...you need one that has
been worn outdoors for a few years so it carries that vintage
patina. Small problems can be excusable--for example, a small
mothhole on the inside seam of a beaded cashmere sweater is
insignificant. One on the middle of the chest of that same
sweater is not. Check items over carefully before purchasing.
5. GET TO KNOW VINTAGE SELLERS.
Ask questions of online sellers and talk to owners of vintage
stores you frequent. Let them know what you're looking for and
ask them to keep their eyes out for you and contact you when
they get something similiar into their shops.
6. BROWSE, BROWSE, BROWSE.
Browsing respected internet vintage sites is one of the best
ways to acquire an eye for quality vintage pieces. Also know
what similiar new items are selling in stores by browsing at the
mall and in fashion magazines. Start to learn which designer
vintage labels will carry a premium due to their collectibility.
Keep track of your favorite eBay sellers and that perfect
internet store you stumbled upon so you can go vintage shopping
whenever the mood strikes you.
One final word of caution: Wearing vintage clothing an be
additive. Before long, you'll probably be collecting a
particular period, designer or item. I assure you, that will
just add to the fun of being a vintage fashionista!
Mary Kincaid has been buying, wearing, and collecting vintage
clothing for over a decade. Visit her website at
www.zuburbia.com to shop in her online vintage clothing boutique
and join an online community of vintage clothing lovers.
Copyright 2005, Mary Kincaid. May be reprinted in its entirety
with full credit given to Mary Kincaid and a link to