Friday, October 22, 2010

Vintage Couture: Friend of foe?

If your anything like me, you probably  have had more than one occasion in which you have an inappropriate outburst in a store when finding that gorgeous piece of Vintage couture to add to your collection,(especially if the price of said fashion-masterpeice is less than what you spend on one of your three daily Starbucks drinks!) I remember when I found a vintage Christian Dior cardigan that has now become a staple in my warbrobe in a salvation army in northern california, I literally screamed in delight like an Asian School girl, no doubt terrifying my elderly shopping competition and most likely causing a heart attack or two. 

While I have learned that the time and effort that goes into these little ventures is totally worth it (and something that I wish I could do all day every day), I have discovered that effective Vintage shopping is truly an art, and takes months, sometimes years of practice to be able to maximize your time, money, and energy! 

I admit I definitely have been known to "splurge" on fashion (which is an understatement at best), I also get an indescribable rush from finding a vintage designer piece for pennies, and have some tips for anyone looking to "get the look" without risking financial ruin. Bottom Line: You don't have to make Rachel Zoe's salary to achieve a look she would "DIE" over. Below are the 3 questions to ask yourself. 

1. What should I buy? Think about the style you are trying to achieve. Do you like the sleek sophistication of the 1920s-30s or "New Look" clothing from the '40s and '50s? Does your taste run toward artsy, flowing hippie style or is it more 1980s, with big shoulder pads, miniskirts and leg warmers? Or are you carefree and love to mix 'n' match? When starting your collection, try to focus on that which you truly love and know you'll wear. Just as with modern, shopping mall-bought styles, it's always a bit tragic when you purchase something and it sits, unworn, in your closet.

2. Where do I go? Vintage clothing can be found in a variety of places. For the adventurous and budget-minded, there are thrift stores, yard sales and church bazaars. Check through clothing racks at places such as Goodwill, Salvation Army and smaller thrift shops (or charity shops, as they're known in the UK). Sometimes, these stores have specially designated vintage clothing sections. With yard sales and church bazaars, it's best if you know for sure that they have vintage clothing for sale-for instance, if you see it in their ad-in order to not waste time looking for something that probably isn't there. You can also buy vintage clothing on the Internet, either through online auctions or virtual antique malls. Then there are brick-and-mortar shops, which are often pricier than online auctions, but you have the advantage of thoroughly inspecting and trying on an item prior to buying it. There are also a variety of vintage clothing expos or shows throughout the U.S. These feature booths with a huge variety of vintage items. They're exciting to visit and usually have enthusiastic collectors, dealers and browsers who can offer their expertise and insights.

3. What should I pay? As much as you want, without going over your budget. It's common sense to know that you shouldn't max out your credit card, but, of course, we're all tempted. The best thing to do is first find articles of clothing online or in stores similar to what you like and see what the going rate is. In other words, comparison-shop first. When you buy items off-season, like a cashmere coat in summer or a Hawaiian dress in winter, you can often get a price reduction. Textiles, too, play a part. If you like wild-patterned '70s disco shirts, you're going to find a lot of them at a reasonable price, because early polyester isn't a particularly desirable fabric.

Read more: How to Start a Wearable Vintage Clothing Collection |

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