Tuesday 24 June 2014

The AHC guide to clothes shopping ‘vintage’ style

I've had this tea dress for years, its one of my firm
 favourites and works for almost any occasion. 

Entering the world of 'vintage' can be daunting for some. We long to look as elegant as the 'Audrey and Jackies' of this world but where do we start? many would argue that fashion is reserved for youth, well flimsy fashions that might be, but timeless elegance and classic style is not ... heck and blast no! My 83 year old neighbour Ros still dresses with elegance and vintage style, and never leaves the house without her silk scarf. 98% of my clothes are from charity and vintage shops ... (the remaining 2% are undies as one has to draw the line somewhere.) My love of vintage clothing started when I was a shabby student in Liverpool. It had some fantastic vintage shops and opened up a whole new world of shopping and style to me. Now I simply can't pass a charity / thrift shop without being tempted inside and I always manage to find something lovely ...

Silk / cotton scarves are a my favourite accessory,
and can be worn as a head scarf, neck scarf,
belt for jeans or to nip in a dress1

What is 'Vintage'?

'Vintage' basically means second hand clothing from a previous era. What I love most about vintage clothes is the quality of them, they're made well and built to last ... and then there is the style. There's so much wonderful inspiration we can draw on from bygone eras. I love the 40's tea dresses ... the cut of the dresses were just so flattering and feminine. I also loved the Victorian era - the lace, the gloves and the delicate cottons. That style definitely influences how I dress today. However, it's not always easy to pick up authentic vintage goods, but that doesn't mean we can't take inspiration and dress in a vintage-style. So where to begin ...

1. Get to know your style 

I'm not going to tell you what to look for, you need to discover what you love. If you don't know where to start, try looking back at some of the previous styles and see what you're drawn to. Perhaps look to iconic women too? Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe were huge style icons - though I prefer Marilyn when she was dressed casually, my days of low-plunge tops and killer heels are well behind me, though it doesn't seem to stop Miggins next door ....

A beautiful Victorian cotton over-shirt ...
looks lovely and feminine over a summer dress.

2. Start small 

Once you've found a style you're drawn to, start small, perhaps by accessorising. Try wearing silk neck scarves or adding brooches to cardigans and bags to instantly add some vintage glamour. Once you're comfortable with that, try a piece of clothing. Soon you'll start to recognise pieces from your preferred eras when you're out shopping.

3. Shop little and often

 When you're a vintage shopper, you can't just pop in a charity shop and expect it to have exactly what you're after. So in order to get the good stuff it's worth popping in frequently, even if you're not after anything in particular, you're more likely to find lovely clothes this way. I use the same method when visiting my cake tin ... 'little and often!' Generally if shops are located in a busy town they'll have new stuff in all the time so pop in each time you pass.

4. The art of scanning 

I've touched on this before in The art of thrifty shopping. Searching through every rack in the shop can take an age and is no fun. So before you start browsing the rails locate your size straight away. I regularly fall in love with something I can't even get my leg in. Then ... scan. Cast your eye over the whole section, then do it again slowly and just wait for something to jump out at you ... whether it's a colour / pattern / fabric. The more you do this, the better you'll become.

This gorgeous little (fake) fur coat from from Monsoon hadn't been worn
and still had tags on ... though it was only a few pounds! 

5. Don't be swayed by the designer 

Learn to shop via quality rather than name. This way you can be more spontaneous with your buying and remember it's not who you wear it's how you wear it. If you are after a really posh designer frock try going to a charity shop in a posh town, though bear in mind, the posher the town the pricier the shop.

6. Try it on! 

I bought a navy and white dress (Pictured below ) in a thrift shop in Amsterdam. I didn't like it at all on the hanger but hubby suggested I try it anyway. I absolutely loved it! So always try it on just to see, you'll be surprised.

I love this little dress ... hubby spotted it. He brings it on himself!

NEXT POST: Easy tips for transforming and up-cycling your clothes 'vintage style.'

JM x

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