Sunday, 22 June 2014

Vintage Unbranded

This post is in solidarity with Vintage Vix - some of you may already know that she was in the running for Vintage Personality of the Year at the National Vintage Awards.  If anybody embodies the spirit and ethos of vintage shopping and dressing it is Vix.  Despite leading the public vote she lost out because the judges got the final overriding say and were judging on very spurious criteria for a competition supposed to be about vintage.

The thing that depressed me the most was points being allocated to candidates for "representing vintage brands throughout their work".  I'm sorry but since when was vintage ever about brands? Unless we are talking vintage YSL and Chanel here I assume the re-appropriation of the term vintage in this sense is solely for commercial purposes to promote repro clothing.  Well that is not what vintage was ever about surely?  Vintage is originality and history, it is anti-brand and anti-consumerism, it is about reuse and recycling.  It is not cookie cutter design and consumerism which is what repro reeks of.  Anyhow, see Vix's post here - although I thought she was an extremely good sport about it all I'm floored as to how someone so utterly fabulous, and moreover someone who always champions real vintage, could not be a winner.

Now I know I may be a bit of a designer label diva and high street brand whore in equal measure on this blog and I have never attested to buying second hand only, but vintage makes up a significant and much loved part of my wardrobe.  I love a good vintage shop and when it comes to dressing in vintage, let me tell you, I can vintage things up with the best of them.

Buying vintage is about the thrill of finding an original garment that nobody else has and being sure that when you are wearing it you'll never been seen in the same thing as someone else.  It is about finding a piece of sartorial history to treasure and marvel at workmanship that often no longer exists.  For the record I'm not someone who wears vintage head to toe or adheres to trying to recreate a period look religiously.  For me most of the fun of wearing vintage is the challenge of making it relevant to your own personal style and wearing it in a way that makes it as relevant today as it was when it was first made.  I like to mix up my vintage clothing with modern bits and pieces or just throw a few different eras together.

I pulled this strappy fifties prom dress out last night in honour of Vix to wear to a friend's birthday party last night.  Her motto of "a day with dressing up is a day wasted" is one I often recite when I'm debating whether or not to go the whole hog dressing up.  Actually the fifties is Vix's least favourite era but it was actually a post on her blog about fifties dressing that was the first post I found on her blog and she was wearing an amazing fifties outfit that floored me.  I was impressed with her knowledge of vintage clothing throughout the eras, and guess what, she can rock any era she chooses!

I've had this dress in my wardrobe for years but believe it or not, last night was the first time I wore it out.  I think I was naively waiting for some sort of special occasion of the grandiose variety to wear it to.  Great expectations indeed.  I shouldn't need a summer ball or wedding every weekend to wear my nice clothes and if the birthday celebrations of a dear old friend isn't going to be special occasion enough than nothing ever will be.  So determined was I to wear this dress it that even when a stitch came away between the bodice and the strap while ironing, causing the bodice to flop down where it met the strap, I just pinned it back together with a vintage pearl brooch and wore it anyway.

The dress was a charity shop find by Mr V's sister who nabbed it for under a fiver with me in mind.  Eerily it fitted like a dream!  The fabric is a stiff taffeta in a gorgeous shade of teal shot with gold and black metallic stripes.  The bodice is lined and boned and the skirt has a wonderful full flare to it.  You can see that the hemline and seams are all hand stitched which leads me to believe this is the real deal vintage wise.

Despite the weather being quite glorious at the moment it is still a bit nippy in the evenings, so I decided to cover up with a vintage beaded cardigan in duck egg blue, however the shape of the cardigan over the dress ruined the latter's lovely feminine lines.  So I belted it to maintain the nipped in waist and flared skirt and got a profile typical of the era of Christian Dior's "New Look" in the 40s and 50s.  My favourite thing about fifties dresses is the swishiness of the full skirts and this one has some serious swish factor!

Whilst I'm rabbiting on about vintage you might note a couple of vintage items adorning the flat.  My love of vintage extends to home furnishings as well.  Why buy all new furniture and decorations for your abode when there's plenty of vintage and antique beauties around to lend your home a more eclectic look?  They are likely to be be better made than modern cheap furniture given that they are still in one piece and entirely usable after decades or in some cases centuries!  And like buying vintage clothing, in choosing vintage items of furniture over new you play your part in reusing and recycling and ensuring that less Ikea MDF ends up in landfill in the long run.

A lot of our vintage furniture pieces are hand me downs.  The Victorian vintage dressmaker's mannequin next to the hearth and the wooden gun chest propping up a Moroccan lamp you can see in the corner are heirlooms we've inherited from Mr V's parents who are downsizing.  Also taking pride of place in our home from them are a vintage Victorian kitchen table, a vintage seventies chrome and lacquered wood dining table, a Victorian wrought iron umbrella stand and some vintage cantilever chrome and leather dining chairs.

The money we've saved on having to purchase those items meant we could get a fireplace insert and surround installed in the dining room.  To be in keeping with the architecture of our Victorian flat, we sourced an antique Victorian cast iron insert from an architectural salvage yard which had been restored.  We had to go repro for the Victorian corbel style marble surround as original antiques were way out of our price range.  But rather than buy totally new, we got it made out of reclaimed marble that apparently came from some mansion in Belgravia!  Honestly the things people throw away!

So Vix this outfit is for you - you'll always be a winner to me and the best example of the vintage ethos.  Now I'm off to soak up more sunshine in the garden.  In the meantime I'll leave you with a few of my favourite vintage garments that take pride of place in my wardrobe:

Do you buy or wear vintage?  Are you a head to toe vintage wearer or do you mix and match with modern clothing?

Teal Taffeta Fifties Prom Dress: Vintage; Gold tone Brooch with Pearls: Vintage; Pearl stud earrings: gift from Mum; Cardigan: Vintage; Satin Kitten Heel Shoes: Aldo; Mint Belt: Jigsaw Australia; Basket bag: bought in a market in Thailand
Linking up to Monday Bloom at DC in Style.


  1. Very, very well said! You know I agree with you about the whole award debacle, and of course our darling Vix was scandalously robbed, and would have been a perfect ambassador for all things vintage, which I naively presumed was the point... Ah well, she is so well-loved and respected among the blogging and vintage selling communities that it really matters not.
    Wow, that is a stunner of a dress! So beautiful - a perfect fit, dreamy shape and colour, and just beautiful in all respects. A big YES to wearing our special pieces often. I love my vintage clothing, but like you, have no particular allegiance to one era or style. I'm a bit of a tart and like it all! Some days, I'm head-to-toe, other days mixed and varied, it depends how the mood takes me. But the thrill of one-off, individual pieces which make me smile? Often bought for less than some shitty Primark sweat shop-produced tat? That's what I want to wear!
    Gorgeous additions to your home from your in-laws, btw. xxx

  2. well said! Maybe the judges have something against the 1970's, can't think way else Vix got robbed. Love your outfit,

  3. You are a very talented writer and I applaud you for this gorgeous piece of writing.

    You look beautiful in everything you wear. :) This outfit is amazing, and so are all of your vintage finds!

    I agree with you - Vix is the perfect ambassador of vintage. But even if she never wore vintage, I'd love her anyway. :) I think we all can give her our own title and choose her to be our independent ambassador. She is the winner to me. Hope you guys will have a fun blog meet up party soon - lucky you to live in one country to do that. :)

  4. I couldn't believe Vix didn't win either! And couldn't agree with your points more. Your dress is gorgeous - fabulous lines and movement - love it with the belted cardigan too.
    I wear my vintage things for everyday as much as possible. I have very few special vintage things for occasions and I don't do that retro look either. Some of my modern clothes have a vintage style such as wide palazzo pants and silk blouses which I love (more the 40's and 70's eras for me).

  5. So much THIS: "Buying vintage is about the thrill of finding an original garment that nobody else has and being sure that when you are wearing it you'll never been seen in the same thing as someone else." I adore this dress, the color and the lines, and you look glorious wearing it. xo

  6. What an excellent and meaty post! First: your view on the whole branded vintage thing is spot-on, and eloquently phrased. Second: that dress is absolutely beautiful, and it rocks on you! Third: you've named all these lovely-sounding vintage decor and furniture pieces in your place - now you'd better do a post on them as you've certainly piqued my curiosity! Lastly, I do vintage but have recently consigned most of my (very wee, pre-baby) 1970s frocks. Most of my vintage pieces now comprise costume jewellery, scarves and shawls, boots and handbags ... and there are many! Xo

  7. Wonderful dress! They made things so well back then.

  8. the volume is fabulous! I wear a big mix, I'm not too proud to buy things second hand. I occasionally buy vintage, especially jewelry. I agree that vintage pieces are usually better quality than what's out there today, because it's proven to have stood the test of time.

  9. You really hit the nail on the head.

    This is what I wrote to Vix regarding her loss, "In the end it sounds like it came down to commercialism. The bad inescapable word. Even in a niche market like vintage where unique and creative should rule commercialism sneaks its greedy head in." I also agreed that it was focused on reproductions of vintage rather than real vintage. It is, as you wrote against everything that real vintage stands for.

    I am a big vintage lover and have a nice little collection of gowns and dresses that I've been adding to through estate sales, thrift stores and vintage boutiques. I wrote a series of about 8 blog posts about how to shop and wear vintage and just had a post a couple weeks ago about some of my favourite bloggers and how they wear vintage, because everyone truly does have their own take, just as you've shown here.

    This dress is wonderful. I am sure you felt like a princess in it. The silhouette that it creates is so ladylike and feminine and the colour is gorgeous with your dark hair. I must say the brooch is wonderful and where my eyes were drawn to first, so kudos on turning a problem into a plus.

    Wonderful well written post!


  10. Well I'm well and truly honoured, Miss V! A wonderfully eloquently written post (I expect no less from you) and a truly astounding vintage gown worn in an individual and show stopping way. Yes, that dress is the real deal!
    Most of the time it is head to toe vintage but my reason behind wearing it is to look like an individual rather than a fashion victim (modern day or vintage). I don't like rules so its 1950s frock with 1970s platforms and 1970s catsuits with 1960s go-go boots. xxxx

  11. Okay, so you are absolutely stunning in this blue confection!! Isn't it amazing that we have these amazing pieces in our wardrobes just waiting for the definitive moment? You wear this silhouette beautifully (I don't!) and I love how you've styled it. It doesn't look "retro" at all, just perfectly au courant. I'm also enamoured with your decor!! The fireplace is perfect and compliments your ensemble. Really, it all looks like a magazine photo shoot. I'm so happy for you and Mr. V.

    I agree with your commentary about the so-called contest...Vix IS the real deal. The fact that she eschews the commercialism that clearly prevailed in the contest makes me love her all the more. She's a winner, hands down. Your tribute to her is magnificent. Love you too. XXOO

  12. Your vintage outfit is breathtaking. And about Vix, she probably works harder promoting vintage than anyone, through her Kinky Melon shop, hitting the road whenever possible, and dancing herself silly at music fests. THAT's promotion. Great post.

  13. Beautiful Ode to Vix! You articulate what I have been thinking, as I was taken aback by the fact that she didn't win a contest that, as you state, should represent " the best example of the vintage ethos." Vix "knocks me out" with every post, and has a heart of gold.

    You are gorgeous in your 50's piece! I'm happy that you gave it a glorious outing. I too love to mix vintage with modern, and am dedicated to recycling. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, you ensemble and your home with all of us across the planet.

  14. I think we all agree about Vix!! That dress is just lovely on you btw :)


Thank you kindly for your comments! Please be aware that comment moderation is on to weed out the spammers and I can only check comments once a day, so please don't worry if you don't see your comment come up at first - it is probably there and will be up later xx


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...