16 May 2009

It's vintage, baby!

Want to be Generous with your clothes shopping, but can't find anything chic enough in the charity shops? Try vintage! When I passed my driving test recently, hubby offered to treat me to a vintage dress from The House of Rose and Brown in Saltaire, Bradford, and this is what I got:

Oh, yes, how pretty is that? It's 1960's and it makes me want to twirl and skip and be very girly! I dismissed it at first because I wasn't sure about the colour (I'm a brunette with a sallow complexion, whites and pastels don't always suit me) and thought it was a bit shapeless. But I tried it on anway and instantly fell in love. It's not shapeless - the empire line nips you in just below the bust (and the darts in the top part create the illusion that I have more bust than I really do!) and skims over all the bits you want skimming over. I'm going to wear it to my friend's outdoor wedding in August, but it looks great teamed with jeans so I'll be able to wear it more casually too. And it was only £36 - yes, you can get cheaper dresses in Primark, but will they last 40 years and look this good? I doubt it.

This was my first visit to a vintage shop and it was a little daunting. I get nervous in small shops when I'm the only customer, but the shop assistant was lovely - helpful, but not full on. It took a bit of rummaging to find things I liked but it was worth it. Here are a few tips I've gleaned from my first visit:

- Look twice. Of course, fashions have changed since whenever these clothes were made, so it can take a couple of looks for your eyes to adjust to the difference in style. I found nothing the first time I went round, but then I landed on three things I was interested in the second time.

- Try things on. In the shop I went to, everything was labelled with a guide size, but remember our shapes have changed a lot in the last half-century. I tried on a lovely maxi dress that was supposedly 8-10, which I am on top, but I'd have had to remove a few ribs to squeeze into it! Similarly, the dress I ended up buying looked too big at first, but when I got it on it was perfect.

- Think outside the box. I saw a couple of things that, with a bit of alteration (i.e. a raised hem), would look great, but I'm still on baby steps with my sewing so didn't go for them. It might be worth brushing up your sewing skills if you plan to shop vintage often.

- Visit again. I overheard the shop assistant tell another customer that they'd sold out of 1940's clothes the week before - such a shame, because I love that style. But it just goes to show that they'll have different things in every week, so I'll definitely be going again next time I want a treat! Don't be deterred if you don't find much the first time you visit.

I'm still a fan of charity shops and there's no doubt that helping a charity adds to the satisfaction of knowing you are reusing something that could have gone to landfill and saving resources. But for something a little bit special, vintage is a very chic form of recycling!