Love the Retro look but not sure about shopping vintage?
Locating the best pre-loved pieces can be tricky but definitely worthwhile for those who love that extra attention to detail. The stores mentioned here fail to capture the true essence of what they really are. They offer so much more. They are run by truly obsessive people – scholars, men and women who can spot a 1966 vs. a 1968 YSL women’s tuxedo on the street, who can call out a fake Chanel jacket from a sample of thread. This is not your typical thrift shop deal although people have been known to occasionally spot a great find from one or even a rummage, garage or sidewalk sale.
Lily et Cie in Beverly Hills may just be the original fashion archive, the store that made vintage acceptable, wearable and cool. Owner Rita Watkin, known to be notoriously picky, is a true character with an encyclopaedic knowledge of fashion. Her story: before founding Lily et Cie, she worked at Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier, Valentino and YSL. One day, she inherited a prestigious collection of 20th Century fashion (that today rivals that of the Met and the Louvre) from a close family friend. She stored it for years until word spread and she finally opened up shop in the 80’s. On a visit years ago, we spotted John Galliano and his entourage (circa the Christian Dior years) taking notes and seeking inspiration. Ahhhh.
Picked up from Lily et Cie – the iconic yellow Jean Desses worn by Renée Zellwegger to the Oscars. Gorgeous on her! And of course, Penélope Cruz looks great in anything but check out this Balmain princess frock also worn to the Oscars -where she won for Vicky Christina Barcelona.
Decades on Melrose, known as Hollywood’s destination for the finest vintage couture and modern luxury consignment.
Cameron Silver and Christos Garkinos, aka The Dukes of Melrose, run a vintage store so revered in Hollywood that it had its own TV show on Bravo. In fact, Cameron has literally written the book on fashion. It’s name? Decades. Hand-picked items are displayed in their deluxe boutique in such a way that customers can truly see each piece for what it is – vintage couture. Cameron says it best, “When Decades opened in 1997, vintage was still rather socially unacceptable and people were turned off by wearing something ‘used.’ However, Decades educated the savvy fashionista that vintage is a modern way to differentiate your style and the edit has always been about ‘vintage that looks modern.'”
60’s Norman Norell
“There isn’t a season that goes by that a designer doesn’t reference the iconic Norman Norell mermaid gowns of the 1960’s. Marc Jacobs recently showed several variations. Whether fully covered like a second skin or a more bare halter style, the flat paillettes look magically applied to the body in a very sensual manner that remains timeless nearly 60 years after this dress was designed. This is pure glamour.”
“One of the big trends this fall is the introduction of the oversized bold pattern coat. Stella McCartney and Phoebe Philo have both proposed this fresh silhouette in recent collections. This is a late 70’s Courreges check coat that has the spirit of the current runway looks.”\
Early 80’s Kenzo
“Everyone’s mad for plaid this season, and the grunge-redux look can easily be luxe’d up with a vintage Kenzo shirt. I love this worn casually with jeans or a leather legging. Don’t be afraid to wear it tied around your waist with a tank top for a rocker-chic vibe.”
Ruth Myers, a true vintage fiend and the costume designer for movies like L.A. Confidential, Emma and The Addams Family, gives us her top list of vintage dealers in the two cities she calls home, L.A. and London.
“In London, I love the stalls in Alfie’s Market. Tintin is incredibly classy, and the owner Leslie has a ton of knowledge and has wonderful treasures, as does June Victor on the top floor. I also love the basement at Gray’s Antique Market off Bond Street, Portobello market on Saturday mornings and Annie’s, Cloud Cuckoo Land and Dreamtime in Camden Passage, Islington, and it’s always worth a trail through Camden Market.”
Since good quality vintage can be pricey and the sizes confusing, we asked the UK’s leading vintage stylist, personal shopper (and author of new book Style Me Vintage) Naomi Thompson to create a guide on finding the best items. Read on..
Arm yourself with garments that are easy to get out of; something you can slip on and off without fuss – my favourite uniform for vintage shopping is a button-down dress. Wear minimal make-up. Many vintage garments do up at the side and have to go over your head, rather than over your hips, so whilst it’s tempting to don a red lippy to get into the spirit of things, it’s best not to smear it all over the neck of a yellow 50s frock. You won’t be judged in a shop for not looking the part.
Have you noticed how dark vintage shops can be? Well, it’s not always intentional (they can just be cluttered places), but it sure does make it harder to spot flaws. By holding it up to the light you can instantly see any holes or repairs. The light will also shine through any patches where the fabric has become too thin and delicate. With woolen garments, check the elbows to make sure there is not excessive wear.
As far as I am concerned, this is Number One in terms of importance; I don’t know why it took me so long to do this automatically! Before the days of deodorant, sweat had a habit of damaging fabric due to the acidic qualities of perspiration.
Double-check that none of the buttons are missing and the zips are working properly. This may seem like a no-brainer, but all too often I’ve gotten home only to discover that a crucial covered button has fallen off or a zip is faulty. Key areas to check fastenings are around the neck line where small buttons may be hidden under a collar, and also around the cuffs. Whilst you are there, make sure the belt is still attached. If there are belt loops and no belt, it’s OK to ask for a small discount because the garment is no longer complete.
Don’t be too proud to ask for advice in a shop, especially if you are looking for era-specific garments. This will speed up the learning process and before long you will be having a friendly debate on the age of a frock. Good shopkeepers should know their stock inside out and quite often they will keep special pieces behind for the right customer. It’s also good to develop a relationship with the vendor, as they will start to look out for garments in your size and style. Most vintage sellers are passionate about what they do and are happy to talk to customers about stock, sizes and fair pricing.
Resist the temptation to buy in bulk. Despite years of collecting for the sake of it, I now wish I had stuck to buying garments that were 100% wearable and in my size. My repairs bag is huge and you can’t ‘rescue’ everything. The less you buy, the more you can spend on those show-stopping items!
Sizing is completely different nowadays, and if there is a size label I’m afraid the best option is to ignore it. To give you an example, I am an 8 but fit an 80s 10, a 60s/70s 12 and a 50s 14. Now, is this because women were smaller or are current brands changing sizes to make us feel better about ourselves? This has not yet been answered, and if you are interested in finding out more read up on Vanity Sizing. Gemma Seager, who writes the Retro Chick blog, is considered to be the industry expert.
More often than not, a heel tip will be missing. Check the leather around the buckle and strap for signs of wear and tear. If a leather strap looks cracked, it may break off easily. Make sure the shoe is not too bendy and will hold your weight – this can be achieved only by trying it on. In some cases the shoe’s sole can be reinforced, but this can be costly. Avoid shoes where the leather has stiffened, as they will be uncomfortable to wear.
Don’t be tempted by garments that need altering above and beyond a simple strap shortening or a dropped hem. Scant few alteration shops will do it justice and if the fabric is raw, frayed or thin, it may not last even one cold wash!
If you like it on the hanger, then chances are you will like it on you, but you also shouldn’t shy away from the bizarre; sometimes a hanger can’t convey an item’s true potential, so get it on your body – what’s the worst that could happen? As a vintage personal shopper, this has been the most rewarding element of what I do. If I got a pound every time a customer reluctantly tried on a garment which turned out to be amazing, then I could probably retire!
- A tape measure. With this and a good knowledge of your own measurements, you will save yourself a lot of stress finding changing rooms and squeezing into and out of too small items.
- A waisted belt to try things on with – dresses can look completely different once they are cinched in.
- A handbag with a strap to help free up your hands and avoid having to put things down. (I’ve put things down before, not realized and then seen them sporting a price tag on my next visit!)
- A smile – it helps with discounts
Have fun, expect the unexpected and shop with an open mind, as you never know what may turn up.
This taken from – http://www.stylist.co.uk
Check out our Vintage board on PINterest at: http://www.pinterest.com/intrigueimports/v-i-n-t-a-g-e/