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 ThailandLinking up to Monday Bloom at DC in Style.