3 Current Trends You Should (and Can!) Buy Vintage

Over the past decade, I’ve honed my skills as a vintage
hunter, graduating from curious novice to downright seasoned
professional. I’ve seen triumph (the
Moschino suit I wore here
), and I’ve seen tragedy (my mom
cramming a 70s jacket my sister and I once fought over relentlessly
into an airport trash can after it shed all over the plane). In
more recent years, I’ve found that shopping vintage is
particularly useful in situations where I might once have turned to
fast fashion, like when I’m itching for something new and
experimental but not able to pay brand-new designer prices. In
addition to the more environmentally-friendly aspect of
vintage shopping
, there’s also a special thrill that comes
from giving an old garment new life. Scroll down to what I
mean–there’s a little guide to three of 2019’s micro trends,
ripe for vintage reimagining, below.

1. Period Piece-Worthy White Blouses

Photo: My small collection of 70s-does-Victorian blouses. (top:
vintage, jeans: Re/Done)

As evidenced by what Harling recently dubbed “Renaissancecore”,
the simple white blouses of summers past have grown up into lacy,
pearl-buttoned confections worthy of Michelangelo’s attention,
not to mention wintry ensembles. They can be dressed up with
trousers and historically accurate sleeve garters à la
Gucci
or pared down with jeans and a sweater for an
easy-like-Sunday-morning
Celine
dupe. You could even swap in some
heart-shaped buttons
for an extra dose of
Marc Jacobs-inspired
cuteness. Luckily for us, the variety of
dramatic white blouses in the vintage world is endless. Nearly
every decade from the 1860s through the 1980s offers a strong
contender, from high-necked haughty lace numbers to pointy-collared
preppy button-downs. As you pursue the perfect one for you:

– Know what can be repaired: White blouses
are essentially a blank canvas, so any sort of damage to them is
instantly visible. Big patches of yellowed or browned fabric are
not fixable. Rips in lace or delicate fabrics like silk are very
difficult and costly to repair. On the other hand, missing buttons
and tears along cuffs, collars, or seams of the shirt can easily be
repaired or replaced by any tailor. Stains or small brown spots
from age can often be removed with a little extra scrub in the
wash, which brings us to…

– Clean your vintage properly: If an item is
discolored, soak it in a bath of warm water with a few drops of
delicate detergent. If you don’t have any delicate detergent on
hand and you need to wear your new vintage piece, like, tonight,
use a squirt of mild hand soap or organic shampoo instead. Avoid
stronger detergents that you would put in the washing machine;
these are too abrasive for older fabrics. While the item is
soaking, use another piece of fabric like a washcloth or dish towel
to scrub at stubborn spots. When it seems like stains are beginning
to lift out of the garment (wait at least an hour), drain the soapy
water, rinse the garment repeatedly under running water until
clean, and air dry.

Items that are pleated or have beaded or embroidered details.
Send those to the dry cleaner instead! And if something you find
decides to bring a smell along with it, hang it by a window to air
out for a day or two and send if off to the dry cleaner too,
posthaste.

– Familiarize yourself with historical
styles:
Do a little bit of market research before you make
a purchase. Brushing up on the stylistic differences between, say,
a Victorian blouse and a less valuable, often mislabeled
Edwardian blouse
could mean saving a hefty sum! Victorian
revival pieces made in the 70s are great because they’re less
expensive and made from more durable, machine-washable fabric
blends.

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2. Strong-Shouldered Mini Dresses

Photo: A buttoned-up blazer can do double duty as a mini dress
too! (blazer: vintage Escada, tights: Calzedonia, bow: Etsy)

In recent years, brands like
The Attico
,
Rotate by Birger Christensen
, and
Alessandra Rich
have won the hearts of many with their
ultra-short dresses with padded and puffed shoulders. Something
about the combination of a power shoulder with a party dress feels
distinctly modern, but a quick perusal of 80s prom
catalogues
is proof enough that there’s plenty of B.S.E. (Big Sleeve Energy)
leftover from bygone eras. With a little imagination and a lack of
corsage, these once-teenage wares will be ready to dance at some
decidedly grown-up holiday parties.

– Take it to the tailor: Love the puff
sleeves or moody floral print on a dress but hate the way it grazes
your ankles? Take it to your tailor and have them shorten it as
much as you like. In general, hemlines are easy and inexpensive to
adjust, but steer clear of anything that would need tailoring in
the waist or shoulders, as these areas are much trickier to adjust.
And don’t feel like it’s sacrilege to make big changes to a
vintage piece–if it’s been out in the world for awhile now,
chances are it’s already been to the tailor many times.

– Pick a period: When shopping vintage,
it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of items
available in shops and online. It helps to narrow things down the
style or silhouette you’re looking for by time period. Many
vintage stores are organized by decade, and online listings will
almost always include the time period if you search by keyword. If
you’re looking for a dead ringer in the realm of the designers
mentioned above, stick to the 80s. If you want something that shows
even more leg, explore 60s mod mini dresses. And if you want
extra-festive beads-and-sequins-galore, look to the 20s.

– Read the label: This tip is borrowed from
vintage maven Stacey Nishimoto, who finds all sorts of vintage eye
candy for her online shop The Corner Store. If you find
an item you love with a label from a brand you’ve never heard of,
plug the name into eBay and Etsy. Chances are that there’s more
from said brand floating around in the vintage atmosphere. I’ve
found that this technique is particularly helpful with fancier
items like party dresses because so many now-defunct high-end
labels are still in the hands of faithful collectors on the
internet.

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3. Varsity Sweaters

Photo: This sweater was a recent find for $12, and now it’s
one of my everyday favorites. (sweater: vintage, earrings: Alison
Lou)

Bored of your sweaters already? Yeah, me too. With winter fast
approaching, it’s time to get things (pumpkin) spiced up (sorry)
in the knitwear department. Might I suggest a varsity sweater?
Off-White,
Alexander Wang, and my
beloved Gucci all offer
beautiful takes this season, but a quick search of the term
“varsity sweater” in the vintage section of Etsy reveals nearly
2,000 options at a fraction of the price. A few things to keep in
mind as you peruse:

– Material matters: Always read the care tag
or message the seller for information about a garment’s material
before purchasing. In general, natural fibers like cotton or denim
will be sturdier and last longer than man-made fabrics. When it
comes to sweaters, if you’re looking for warmth seek out wool and
cashmere. However, if you have a low tolerance for scratchiness,
you might prefer the feel of something in a polyester or acrylic
blend.

– Choose handmade: When searching for
sweaters, keep an eye out for items without labels or that specify
in an online listing that they were hand-knitted. Not only are
these knits one-of-a-kind, but they are also more durable because
they’re typically knitted in one piece rather than
machine-stitched together like a factory-made sweater. Also,
there’s something extra cozy about wearing a sweater made by a
grandmother, even if she’s not your own.

– Sort by color: Another way to sift through
seemingly endless racks or pages of vintage is to limit yourself by
color. Avoiding shopping fatigue is the name of the game here.
Narrow your search to one or two colors and do your best to not let
your eye wander elsewhere. When searching online, be as specific as
possible, e.g. “Kelly green varsity sweater with pockets.”

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With a little patience and a healthy dose of TLC, you’ll find
that a good vintage piece will outlast any trend–but that
doesn’t mean it can’t participate in one as well. I have a
much-loved lace dress from the 20s who will be turning 100 next
year. Drop me a suggestion as to what we should do for her birthday
in the comments. Oh yeah, and show me what you get, too!

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3 Current Trends You Should (and Can!) Buy Vintage
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Source: FS – NY Fashion
3 Current Trends You Should (and Can!) Buy Vintage