I have been collecting and wearing vintage clothing since I was a teenager. I started collecting for several reasons, the main one being that I have always been enthralled by history. To me, each of the garments from a bygone era is a tangible fragment left over from a time long past. I also started collecting since as a teenager my friends and I spent our weekends shuffling through the racks at thrift stores. We dug for buried treasure amongst in the sea of itchy 1970s polyester and glitzy 1980s prom gowns.
I shopped at thrift stores because what I could find there often could not be found on the rack of any mall store. When I wore the clothes I found there, I stood out…in a good way and I expressed my own personality. In all the years I have been wearing vintage, I have had nothing but positive remarks from people, even when I was in high school when judgment from peers run sky high. In vintage clothing, I found myself.
In my early 20s, I discovered the decades I love the most, the 1920s, 1930s and 1960s. As I had more money, I started investing in what pieces I could find at the local vintage shops and on Ebay. They were scarce in those days because was before the era of widespread vintage commerce. Not only did I collect the garments from these eras but I studied and collected antiques from the eras as well.
Today after over 10 years of collecting, I still have some of my beloved pieces that I bought 10 or even 15 years ago. They hold a special place in my closet and will never get sold. But then, there are the pieces that I have bought and have never been worn, they sit in my closet begging to be sold. Either they are too delicate, too big, too small, etc.
A good example of this is a fully beaded flapper gown I have. It’s one of the most beautiful pieces I own, I bought it when I was 20 and have carted it around with me for years. I have never worn it because it is simple too delicate. I imagine the horror of wearing it out and a few steps out the door there is a pile of beads and shattered silk at my feet. The piece is ideal for someone who wants to put it away in a box as a collector’s item….i.e. not for me.
I am not someone who is simply content to let vintage clothing sit on a hanger, for me, part of the enjoyment is (delicately and carefully) wearing it.
I currently have a pile of vintage items, a pile of silk, lace velvet, taffeta, ostrich feathers in all sorts of yummy colors that has been begging for a new owner for months. Some of the things don’t fit, are too delicate, and some just don’t look quite right on me. The time has come for them go back out into the world, the hard part is figuring out I will do without them.