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 

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