Friday, 16 December 2011

Vintage Fashion Dilemma - should you buy authentic or shop on the high street?

Ever since my last post on a visit to Beyond Retro, I've been thinking about vintage clothes and different people's attitudes to them. Some of my friends love the style from the 1950s but would never dream of looking for something that was that old, worrying more about where the item had been and if someone had died in it (yep, if you've ever been vintage or charity shop shopping then you'll be familiar with that sort of comment). Personally I'm happy to think of things as pre-owned and pre-loved, and if someone else has had amazing adventures in my jumper before I did then that's pretty damn good. I do know that not everyone has the same opinion about all things old, so I thought I'd get to grips with some of the stereotypes surrounding retro fashion:

  • THE VINTAGE SNOB - she only likes it if it's been picked up from one of the best niche markets and it comes with a long back-story. If you try and fob her off with Topshop's latest take on the Peter Pan collar then she'll have a hissy fit. It must be genuine and it must be a little bit out there. If it comes complete with moth damage then she'll see it as part of the price you pay for the real thing. Her most over-used phrase is: "It's vintage, daaaahling,".
  • THE JUMBLE SALE JUNKIE - she scours jumble sales and car boot fairs in the hope of bypassing the insane prices for vintage clothing pieces that are essentially just someone's unwanted goods from the 1970s. If something cost her £3 then she'll love it that little bit more. She's into customising and is happy to repair her purchases to get them in good nick.
  • THE CHARITY SHOP VOLUNTEER - one of the main reasons for her stint in the shop (aside from giving back to the community, blah blah) is to get first dibs on the stock. Yep, I've been one of these in the past, and now I look at current volunteers and mutter, "You don't know how lucky you are..." as I scour the rails for the perfect tea dress that might have escaped the dreaded rag pile for textiles recycling.
  • THE SECOND HAND PHOBIC - she'd run a mile from anything that might look used. Charity shops give her goosebumps, and not in a good way. She'd have to wash something ten times before it vaguely smelt of anything other than grannies, and even then she'd be paranoid that someone would judge her. It's all about shiny newness and screw the upcycling, because you can always buy another one.
  • THE RETRO COPYCAT - why waste time trawling through vintage fairs when you can pop down the shops and see what Primark's take on the shift dress is? The benefit of styles that come back round again is that you can take the idea but make it modern, with forgiving fabrics and easy care wash labels. None of that dry-clean-only rubbish. If you can get it for under £30 on the high street then it's a bonus.
If you do want to look for a vintage bargain near you then I've posted on quite a few shops in the past, from London to Edinburgh, and I'd also recommend Judy's Affordable Fashion Fair, which travels round the UK and is a great way to shop cheaply - they sometimes do special sales where you can buy goods by the kilo.

Happy shopping!

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