I have been collecting vintage clothing in some form or another since I was in high school. I’ve always loved clothing from different eras because it was different from trendy modern clothing. I started off buying exclusively 20s, I bought pretty much anything I could find and afford. After a while, I opened myself up to other decades to come where I am today, which is pretty much open to clothing of any era, but my favorite is the late 30s and early 40s.
There was a time when I spent a lot of money on beautiful but highly impractical vintage, the sort of stuff that looks great in a box, but is far to delicate to wear in real life, too impractical or too costume-y ( I’m not exactly going to wear a 1910s gown to go pick up groceries at Trader Joes!) Even if the expensive things were slightly more practical side, like 1920s/30s beach pajamas, where REALLY are you going to wear them? The beach? I might live in Los Angeles, but I NEVER go to the beach, and even if I did, I don’t think I would wear rare, valuable beach pajamas…so they just sit in my closet looking pretty, I think I have only worn them to a handful of vintage events.
Today, I think I am probably the most practical I have ever been. I am at an age now where I have really honed in on what I like and what is practical, as for the other stuff, unless its a REALLY good price, I pass it by. If I am going to spend money on vintage today, it has to be a yes to all these questions.
1. Is it something that is sturdy enough to be worn and worn on multiple occasions?
Ask yourself: Is it a strong fabric like rayon, cotton, or a synthetic, or is it silk? Vintage silk, especially from pre-1940 is NOT practical, especially chiffon. You buy this and are looking to wear it, you are potentially asking for trouble. Either stay away from silk or approach it with extreme caution.
2. Is it something unique?
Unique vintage is worth spending money on. If it is a piece that is one of a kind that you will never see again and its at a price you can afford, go for it. What you want to avoid is spending your money on less then stellar pieces that you might tire of quickly Choose pieces you will treasure, don’t buy something that is just Okay, even if it is at a good price.
3. Is the item worth the price?
Granted, vintage is expensive, but some sellers inflate the price more then what a piece is actually worth. If you see a piece that you really like with a very high asking price, ask yourself, is it worth it? A seller can ask whatever they like for a vintage piece, but you have to make sure to be realistic, and ask yourself, is this piece worth it to me to pay THIS much money.
4. Does it fit?
This is really important for two reasons. If you buy a piece that is too big, keep in mind that alterations are expensive, if you buy a piece that is too small you run the risk of never being able to fit into it. Also keep in mind, altering a vintage piece too much might effect its retail value.