Vintage clothing is described by Trudie Bamford, author of Viva Vintage (Carroll & Brown) as clothing made between 1920 and 1970. Anything before 1920 is antique and anything after is retro. Although many people use vintage as a term to describe clothes that are not brand new. The popularity of vintage clothing is currently huge with large numbers of people owning at least a few items of vintage clothing and some people only ever wearing vintage clothes. Celebrities have fueled the popularity of vintage by wearing vintage designer clothes like Julia Roberts in her Vintage Valentino gown, worn for the Oscars in 2001. In the High Street Oasis and Next have also created there own vintage inspired clothing with similar styles and colors as clothing from various different eras of fashion.
The popularity of vintage clothing is probably due to three factors. The individuality of vintage pieces is a real attraction to many people. The range of clothing on the high street almost always follows the seasons trends. You are much less likely to see someone wearing the same or a similar outfit if you wear vintage clothing. Many will use one key piece of vintage clothing or an accessory to give an outfit bought on the high street an individual twist. Vintage clothing has also proved popular as many love the beautiful , delicate and detailed ladylike styles that can be found when buying vintage clothing. Many vintage clothes lovers have a keen interest in the history of fashion and finding vintage clothing is an interesting hobby.
Key looks such as 1940's Dior New Look frequently inspire designer and high street main stream collections and those who wear vintage clothing have the benefit of wearing the 'real thing'. Finally the beauty of vintage clothing is often in the quality of the garment. The vintage clothing that has stood the test of time and has managed to remain in a reasonable and wearable condition will usually be of a superior quality to many clothes mass produced in the present day. Clothing made before 1960 is probably handmade and quality natural materials such as silk and wool were used as man made and synthetic materials were not available. Styles and trends of clothing did not change as frequently as it does today so clothes were made to last.
Buying vintage clothes can be a time consuming business. Finding the right item takes time. There are many shops specializing in vintage clothes, charity shops and flea markets are also good hunting grounds. The internet provides an excellent resource for finding vintage clothes. eBay is treasure trove for vintage clothes and you can often get a real bargain if you look hard enough. There are also many online vintage shops which make it easier to find the item you are looking for but are likely to charge a bit more for the privilege.
A word of warning, there are some key pitfalls to watch out for when buying vintage clothing. Do not automatically trust the sellers description of the item. Check for indicators of the age of the items such as metal zippers and buttons instead of plastic on pre-1950's clothes, any clothing with a care instruction label will be post 1970's. When buying designer vintage you will need to do your research to ensure that the item you are purchasing is genuine. It also important to consider the quality of any vintage clothing that you would like to buy. When buying online you will not be able to assess the quality so should ask key questions to make sure you are happy with your buy. Due to the very nature of vintage clothing, it will be in varying conditions. Wear and tear can range from the easily solved tear along a seam or small moth hole to less desirable underarm perspiration stains.
Finally sizing can present a problem when buying vintage clothes. Sizes have changed quite a lot over the years and a size 12 item from the 1950's may be the equivalent of a side 6 or 8 now. It is also possible that clothing can have shrunk in the wash making it even smaller than expected. If unable to try the item on use a tape measure to measure yourself and ask the seller to do the same with the clothes.
When you manage to find the beautiful vintage item that you really love, look after it well. Check the type of material and find out how it should be cleaned. If in doubt take it to a professional dry cleaner. Store carefully using acid free tissue paper for very delicate items and moth balls/ cedar wood for wool.