Wednesday, February 3, 2010

On the ethics of alteration

What are the generally accepted ethics of altering vintage clothing? Where do the boundaries lie between alterations to fit, and, say, customisation? I bought a 1940s maxi skirt, but I want it to be a knee-length skirt. Should vintage clothing be considered sacred, and if I don't want to wear it as it is should I allow someone else to do so? What if I want to alter the high, round neck on a 1950s dress to become a (still period-appropriate) sweetheart neckline?

Joanna thinks that we should allow ourselves some latitude to alter vintage to suit our needs, pointing out that the aforementioned skirt might as well be reinvented and enjoyed, rather than left as it is and remain unworn, in the same way as she happily chops up vintage fabrics to make quilts and other lovelies. After all, that's the whole spirit of "make do and mend" that was prevalent in the days when it was produced.

Next step: learn how to make alterations...


  1. I admit I have had a difficult time altering vintage in the past, but then again, I want to actually wear it. If it were something collectible and of great value (famous designer, something very rare) then I would not, but otherwise I think it's fair game to make alterations. Can you make something out of the part you cut off your skirt such as a hat or purse or belt?

  2. I know exactly how you feel. I have a fabulous vintage dress from the 40's I think. Its handmade and everything but I had to take it in on the sides to fit better. I felt like I drew devil horns on the mona lisa. After that sin, I went ahead and put a zipper in the front so I could nurse my little one, otherwise, I'd have to pull the dress up over my head to feed her! lol! I figure its better to do some alterations than to let it turn to dust. That's the spirit of the vintage way!


I'd love to hear your thoughts!


Related Posts with Thumbnails