Monday, 28 July 2014

Trawling Tips for the Vintage Vixen in You!!

If, like us, you sometimes enjoy a bit of a rummage at a car boot sale and a sort through those charity shop rails you should keep your eyes peeled for that all important piece of quality vintage.  
You never know where you might find that little gem - and you are sure to come across something when you least expect it!! But when you do venture upon something you think is fab, it would be good to know what to look for wouldn’t it????
So here are the Lily & Violet Vintage top tips for buying vintage…
Obviously, our very top tip is to shop with us!!!…. where all of the clothes have been hand-picked for their quality style and condition and where you can try things on….  
But…whilst we would love you to shop with us you might just happen upon something that is not in our shop!!! Yes, really!! you just might!! 
There are lots of ways to get yourself some great vintage pieces… and we might be able to give you a few pointers…
Vintage, by its very nature has already been bought at least once before and is therefore either hanging in someones wardrobe or is waiting to be bought again - in a shop, at a car boot, in a charity sale, at an auction or on a sale site.  So, keep your eyes peeled and ask around..
There are plenty of hoarders, vintage lovers, size shufflers, shape shifters, shopaholics and over spenders out there - they could even be your mother or grandmother so ask them!! If they have long forgotten items tucked away in the bottom of their wardrobes then they could be the perfect source of your vintage pieces!!!  
But what exactly do you look for ??? There are a few things worth remembering when buying vintage (but it will vary a bit depending on the decade)…
Home-made clothes in the 1940s, 50s and 60s would be the normal for the majority of people.  These garments were very often high quality. But they won't have labels so look at the fabric and construction instead. Metal zips, hooks and poppers, boning, and great detail are worth looking out for.
Until the 1950’s, Pret-a-Porter (or ready to wear) ranges were very few and far between.  You couldn’t go into a shop and easily buy something of quality and fit, off the rack. More often than not clothes would be made to measure by an Outfitters, seamstress or your mum!
Sizings were not standardised until the 1960s and even then could still be quite random… even then many items were Couture or Tailor-made and as such no ‘size’ was given.

Size 14??? I don't think so!!!
So, never ever go by the vintage size - and it is worth remembering that it is not true to say that a vintage size 16 is a size 12 today - it varies!!
The best piece of advice we can give you is to try it on!!! 
We are all of us differing shapes. Not every size 12 woman has the exact same waist measurement.
So, what are the tell tale signs in deciding if something is vintage??? 
Take a look at the label if there is one.  Some labels just look old!!! If you still aren’t sure then get researching - this world wide web can be a wonderful thing!! 
Mary Quant started Ginger in 1963
If there isn’t a designer label you may still find a shop label or a fabric label.  The further back in time you go the less likely you are to find these labels and you are very unlikely to find a fabric label before the mid 1950’s. 
The composition of the fabrics used will give a clue to the era they were made in.  See ‘Crimpelene’ - think ‘70s!!  And the amount of information given will also give you a clue to the age. More info = more recently made item.
The feel of the cloth might give you a good clue about the age of the garment.  If the fabric has any degree of stretch and is not cut on the bias (diagonal to the grain), it is unlikely (but not impossible) to date before the 1970’s.
Care labels became a requirement in 1971 so this too can be a very good indication of age.  But, it won’t tell the whole story - you have to look at this along with the fabric type, cut, other labels etc. Just because it was not mandatory to have a care label before 1971, didn’t mean that it never happened - of course it did!!!
If the item is American in origin then you may find a ‘Union’ label. During and after WW11 all American made clothing bore the Union label and this helped to ensure that the correct cloths were used and quantities were kept to a minimum. However, the union tags continued to be used through out the 1970s and urged Americans to buy American made goods. 
Having said all of this, the very best way to buy anything (vintage or otherwise!) is to buy what you like. you would be pretty stupid not to  really...  The benefit of being able to date your garment though, is that it will give you an idea of how widely available it is and if it could be an investment piece.  

What is really great about vintage clothing is that you would be pretty unlucky to find someone else in the same outfit.  So, it would be totally disheartening to buy something you think is original ‘60s only to be hear “oh, I have one exactly the same as that! I got it a few years ago from Peacocks?”

Never again go out only to find someone else in the exact same outfit.  put some fun back into your wardrobe and dare to shop vintage!!!

Mary & Lisa x 

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

What Sells???

We absolutely love the fact that our customers are Totally Gorgeous and above all Totally Unique - they have to be because they want to shop with us!! Why be a lemming and follow the crowd when you can wear something as individual as you are???

Oooo - goodies arriving!!
We have had great fun putting together the initial stock to open the Lily & Violet Vintage Boutique, but without actually having a shop it was all a bit like shopping in the dark...

I don't know if you have ever tried shopping for someone that you don't know, have never met and have absolutely no clues as to their age, stature, likes etc. etc.  Well, it is quite hard and so most of the time we shopped for ourselves!!  Over the course of a few months we think we got pretty good at it but the real test was throwing our doors open and letting all of you decide...

What is great about being in the Boutique is watching someone walk through the door and immediately judging the type of garment they will go for - only to be proved completely wrong when they walk into the changing room with their choices!!!! And then seeing someone have a complete change of identity when they try things on!!! - we love it!!  It really does go to show that you never can tell.

And then there are the men!!.... The male of the species invariably follows the female quietly around the shop; nodding in all of the right places and looking relatively interested.  But when their female goes into the changing room they suddenly become much more vocal and for the most part are intent on encouraging more adventurous clothes.  Needless to say, very little encouragement is actually needed!!  -  Well done those ladies!! There is definitely a degree of manipulation going on there!!  Of course it was his idea to go for something a bit different......

So, what have we sold ??? Were they the items that we thought would fly off our rails or are they the more unusual and quirky items that we thought could be a bit of an acquired taste??

You have surprised us, amazed us and delighted us by your non-conformist quirky tastes and your eye for quality and detail...

Gorgeous!! - Gone!!
Our favourite cream wool swing jacket with the multi-coloured buttons - gone!!
The very unique hat with the pheasant feathers - gone!!
Gorgeous heeled brogues - gone!!
Stunning pink malia sundress (just lovely) - gone!!
Mint condition lizard bag - gone!!
Orange organza sunhat - gone!!
Very unusual '50s button back top and skirt - gone!!
The fabulous orange palazzo pants - gone!!
The lovely metallic pouch bag - gone!!
All the sunglasses - gone!!
That Boa!! - gone!! (We hope you are putting it to good use Fiona!!)

Obviously the list could go on and on, but the point is that everything that we have sold has been as unique and gorgeous as the person who bought it!!! And we of course can't repeat any of the items that you see - once they are gone, they are gone!!!

We are keeping a list of things that you are interested in and will try to get things that you want to see, on to our rails.  We will keep our Pinterest pages up to date with our latest additions (if we get to photograph them before they are sold).

You do have to be quick though - this week the larger size dresses have sold within about 2 hours of being put out!!! Sometimes it is just luck.....

Mary & Lisa x