While some people are able to dig out every hidden gem at their local charity, the rest of us are left looking at the worn tank-tops from ten years ago. It’s almost like they have a special ability to find high-quality clothes among the dozens of used, worn, and frail garments. Luckily, a few of the vintage veterans have shared their secrets so that we can finally make a scoop as well – or at least piece together a retro wardrobe.
Vintage and used? What’s the difference?
Calling something vintage indicates that time has made it more appealing rather than withering it, kind of like a fine wine. While time makes some clothes and accessories more charming, others basically fall apart – so there needs to be a certain level of quality involved to make it worthy of the ‘vintage’ label.
A leather bag from the 50’s that is still beautiful and functional will be worthy of it because it has stood the rest of time, and proven to be relevant regardless of how many years that have passed. Signs of a quality garment, bag, or shoe includes the general details, such as proper stitching, a label on the inside, and fabric patterns that match up with the seams.
Other and more interesting details to look for in vintage pieces are saw-toothed edges, metal zippers (plastic is too cheap), union labels printed in blue, and side-snap closures.
Build a vintage wardrobe
The classic style is all the rage lately, and you can easily piece in a few vintage elements yourself without going overboard. Or go overboard, if you like, it’s up to you – just start by purchasing a few basics. Look for the details above, first of all, and invest in something you’ll be able to match up with whatever you already have at hand.
What about a knitted sweater from the 1960’s with a pair of skinny jeans? A leather bag goes well with basically anything as long as it’s in a neutral color, as well as most Dickies jackets, and you should absolutely wear it with some flowy pants from the hippie era.
Going much further back the 20th century will quickly have you looking a bit like you’re going to a costume party rather than trying to look fashionable, since the style will be so very different from what we wear today.
Vintage vs high street
As the style is so popular lately, you’ll easily find lookalikes on the high street as well – and it could be a good idea to start out here if you’re not too interested in second-hand clothes. The quality is usually better when you go a couple of decades back in time, tough, with more attention to detail and more handwork than we tend to find in contemporary fashion pieces.
You’ll be spoiled for choice in any way, really, with a lot of modern design being inspired by retro clothing; start out on the high street and work your way over to the charity shops when you know what you’re looking for.
Just remember that vintage garments may lose their charm completely after a round in the laundry machine, and your safest bet is to just send them in for dry cleaning.