How To Use Practicality When Buying Vintage

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.

 

 

The Two Tone Dress

Have not come up with a name yet for this new dress from my line, but really loving it.Right now I am trying to develop some more every day dresses along with the embellished dresses. This colors and all is based on a 1938 junior miss color block dress dress. It is a rosy peach and a dusty lavender purple, I went to great lengths to find the fabric to match the original colors because I just loved the color combination. They just don’t combine colors together the way they used to!The shoulders have a slight pouf and the skirt has a lot of movement and swing to it, it ties back at the waist to cinch it in. I am wearing it with a late 1930s, early 1940s sunhat, 1940s sunglasses and silver shoes by Remix.

Mixed Eras

I am wearing an outfit that is a mix of eras. The bag and the brooch are by Chanel and are modern but classic, the dress is Mr. Blackwell from the early 1980s, the hat is from the late 40s and the shoes are 1940s as well. The dress has a very 1940s look to it, so it looks of that era. Usually I’m not a big fan of the 1980s, but this dress is classic and very comfortable being made out of rayon matte jersey. I am a huge fan of mixing eras, especially for everyday wear. When I first started collected vintage as a teenager, I was very concentrated on making everything from one or two eras ( the 1920s and 30s) which to me now seems kind of silly for myself unless you are doing active reenacting or going to a vintage themed event where it is totally understandable. I could put together a whole look of authentic 1920s, 1950s or whatever, but to me the challenge is making a good outfit, whether all from one era or different eras or all modern, the truth is, there was great fashion in every era, there is a lot of great fashion being put out today. You just have to know how to find it. I notice people sometimes get so serious about vintage clothing, but fashion of every era should be just one thing:fun, at least that’s the way I look at it.

Black and White

Black late 1930s/early 1940s Dress- Consignment Shop in Northern California

1950s White marabou wrap: Ebay (I also wore this at my wedding)

Shoes: Remix ” Anitas”

So today I decided to go a bit formal with my blog outfit, this dress is one of the pieces I am selling. A couple of years ago I gained over thirty pounds because of a medication I was taking for fibro, now I am back to my normal size, but am left with a lot of beautiful vintage clothing that no longer fits. My closet is overflowing and my choice is either alter it or sell it/donate it/give it away. I choose the second options because I would rather get it out of my closet to someone who will love it then spend the money on alterations and alter a beautiful vintage piece. Hopefully this dress will go to someone out there who really loves it and will cherish it.

The Corsage

 

New Look style 1950s hat – My Vintage Hat Shop, Etsy

1950s star brooch- My Vintage Hat Shop, Etsy

I made this Clemantis corsage the day before Easter and decided it went perfect with this mid-century hat. I am a big believer that the big, grand corsages that were worn in the 1930s-1950s need to make a come back, even if it is just silk flowers like mine is made from.

 

 

Schiaparelli-esque.

Dress, Etsy, House of Pretty Parlor

Deco Dress Clip, came with dress

1940s hat, Iconic Vintage. Burbank

Black shoes, Remix ” Boulevard”, Remix Los Angeles

 

So, this dress isn’t Schiaparelli, but it sure looks like something she would make. This is starting with the shocking pink color ( her favorite) and the outrageous sleeves. As for this dress, its a beautiful taffeta. I’m almost sure this dress used to be an evening gown. Its  a luscious moire taffeta.  It hits me right at the knees, so either it was shortened in the 194os when this length was in vogue or it was chopped off for a very petite lady. The gown itself is from the ( I think) late 1930s which is pretty much my favorite years of all time for vintage and one I use to inspire many of my lines dresses.

I had initially ordered this dress for two reasons, one, I love the design and could think of a million places I could wear this dress, two, I think the design is very flattering and I’m going to use it ( perhaps tone down the sleeve drama just a tad) for one of my upcoming dresses.

 

 

The “Avalon” Dress

I have not posted in several weeks due to my fashion line taking a back seat to a screenplay that I am developing that is taking the bulk of my time. This dress has one of my favorite color combos which was very popular during the 1950s, although through my line, I can any color combination of sea horse and dress you desire. The seahorses themselves were inspired by 1950s Chalkware seahorses, mermaids and other sea creatures that came to found in many a Mid Century home.

The dress itself comes is inspired by a piece I have from the early 1940s, with its full skirt it could also work for a 1950s look as well.  I paired the dress with white Remix shoes in the style “Anita”

Dragon Lady

Here is one of several dragon dresses I will be introducing to my fashion line because well, I love dragons!

This crepe dress is based on a pattern from the 1940s, the dragon appliques are hand sewn and beaded. This dress can also be made in cotton twill, satin and velvet.

I paired it with a 1950s style purse, 1950s leather gloves, and a pair of shoes by Remix.

Getting Back To My Roots


The first decade that I came to love when I started collecting vintage was the 1920s. I stopped collecting it for a while, but now I am rediscovering it again. My latest purchase is this satin mid-1920s coat. I paired it with a pair of “Grammercy” shoes by  Remix Los Angeles, a mid-1920s dress, a modern turban and a silver mesh 1920s/1930s bag by Whiting and Davis.