Friday, December 14, 2012

More Than Just Clothes

Vintage is more than just clothes. Even the clothes are more than just clothes. We vintage girls don't buy clothes just because they're fashionable and/or cheap. We buy clothes because we love them. Lots of people love their clothes of course, but in in the modern climate of mass-produced, cheaply-constructed 'disposable fashion', few (I did say "few", not "none") cherish their clothes as we do. After all, how many people these days would actually get out needle and thread and mend clothing? The hem starts falling down on an H&M skirt or a seam begins to separate on a Topshop frock, that baby's going in the bin! Of course, the quality of vintage clothes does tend to be somewhat higher than your average high street purchase now - even the budget brand clothing from Sears was intended to last more than a season or a few washes.

Each garment in my wardrobe holds the memory of its purchase. Ebay buys may recollect a tense bidding war, or bring a smile at the remembered thrill of watching the final seconds tick down without a challenging bid. Sometimes it was a glimpse of fabric on a charity shop rail or in a pile at a car boot sale, hastily grasped and examined and evaluated and determined - yes - to be the real deal, and quickly purchased. I paid £2 at a car boot sale for the 1950s aqua taffeta dress I wore to my sister's wedding - the excitement of finding such a bargain will never leave me.

It needed a long bath in Vanish to get the discolouration out. But it was £2. Full circle skirt, too.

Some purchases might be the culmination of months in pursuit of a particular wishlist item - a 1940s crochet handbag, a 1950s princess coat, a leopard muff - which was then, finally, ticked off the list. Or it might have been spur of the moment, happened upon while browsing a vintage shop maybe, or the result of an idle online search bringing up something lovely and unexpected - in the right size, at the right price - quick, where's my credit card?

I was browsing ebay when I came upon this little beauty, which I won for the opening bid.

Most vintage garments are unique - many were home made, and of those that weren't, most of their companions will have long since been consigned to the great wardrobe in the sky - and so each one is ours alone, unique and exclusive. We certainly don't need to worry about passing someone in the street wearing the same Primark sweater.

Our clothes are special to us, treasured equally for their rarity, their history, and the thrill of their discovery. They are our hobby, our passion, our link to the past, and our form of self-expression.

Or, sometimes, it's just a pretty dress.


  1. Great post Charlotte! I really identify with your reminiscing over the 'thrill of the hunt' ~ I feel the exact same way with many pieces in my wardrobe.
    Thanks for sharing. :)

    bonita of Depict This!

  2. I love your blog! I am fairly new to vintage shopping and every time I read your blog I am re-inspired. Thanks for all your hard work of research and writing all things vintage!

  3. Well said, Charlotte! :D Recently I was doing my annual "closet purge" (not really a purge, but a good look-through and clean out as needed), and realized that part of the reason I couldn't part with much of anything was because I had amassed a lot of vintage pieces that had special meaning to me. Whether they were found for $1 at an estate sale in Florida, or passed on to me from a kind friend or relative, it was a lot more than just a "piece of clothing". There is such a rich, fun sense of history too when you wear vintage. Being a history nerd, buying modern clothes is never the same.

    I think I shall take advantage of the chilly weather today and wear my favorite 1960s red boucle coat with the fur trim. A lucky thrift store find last winter that took something off my "hunt" list! ;)

  4. Excellently said, dear Charlotte (I second your very last line in particular and feel like you took the words right out of my mouth with it). I've thought about this point before, too, and love that I'm not alone in doing so. Vintage clothes are so much more than just the sum of their parts, they are the embodiment of an era, a mindset (on the wearer's part), and a desire to break away from modern norms and follow your own incredible sartorial voice (amongst many other things).

    Again, stellar post. Thank you very much for writing it.

    ♥ Jessica

  5. Oh, yes!! The amazing bargains do stay with you! And the hunt for that perfect bargain is so exciting!! I have one item that I love to bits, that looks like a million and only cost me about 1 euro! I´m still in awe every time I look at it!

    Oh, yeah, the hunt list... I recognize that as well... Currently only one item on mine, but I have almost given up on finding that well fitting brocade vest with pockets for my pocket watch...

  6. Oh, absolutely, well said. I will mend a thing endlessly to keep it going if it's something I love, I have a waistcoat I bought years ago, must be at least twenty years anyway, and the silky back is starting to go. I have been carefully repairing the shatters to keep it going a bit longer because I love it.

  7. Wonderful post! So well said and I couldn't agree more!


  8. Love this post. It is amazing how the quality of vintage is so different from today's clothing, and I do love knowing no one else is wearing what I am. I don't get why everyone isn't more into vintage, but that's ok because there's more for us!


I'd love to hear your thoughts!


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