If you are getting bored with your wardrobe, then maybe it’s time to jazz it up with some vintage clothing. From a stylish cocktail dress to a nostalgic concert T-shirt, mixing up new and vintage pieces is a great way to get a fresh new look.
What’s considered “vintage” differs from person to person. However, there are some agreed upon qualities that makes a piece of clothing vintage.
Vintage clothing is defined as clothing from another era, usually classified by decade. It represents a time period and serves as a cultural expression of that time.
Vintage typically includes any clothing and accessories from the Victoria period through the 1960s, as well as garments from before the Victoria era. Clothing from the past 15 years is considered contemporary clothing, and some vintage purists assert that any clothing made after the ’60s should be classified as retro rather than vintage.
An item cannot be classified vintage just because it is old. A piece of vintage clothing need to have an aesthetic quality that makes it stand out.
In short, vintage clothing can consist of unusual examples of an era’s fashion or, more often than not, typical clothing from a particular time period that possesses a style and design that appeals to collectors and buyers.
Explore Vintage Clothing & Accessories
You can find a large range of vintage clothing for both women and men. Remember that vintage shopping is not just about price and style, it’s also fun to track down those fashion blasts from the past.
• For women: Take your pick from an assortment of vintage dresses, blouses, sweaters, jackets, pants, skirts, suits, coats, and lingerie. In addition, couture/designer garments are also available from top designers.
• Shoes: Vintage shoes consists of everything from platform shoes and pumps to go-go boots and cowboy boots. You can also find vintage Nike and Adidas tennis shoes.
• Accessories: Don’t forget about vintage accessories such as handbags (for example, beaded bags) and scarves (such as Pucci scarves), as well as shawls, fans, gloves, hats, sunglasses, belts, ties, and handkerchiefs.
Know Your History: Vintage Clothing Periods
Although there is some occasional crossover, connoisseurs generally group periods for vintage clothing as follows:
• Pre–1901: This broad category includes everything from the high waisted dresses of the early part of the 19th century to the lace tea dresses and bustle gowns of the Victorian era. Keep a look out for pieces described as 1800s, Victorian, antique, Romantic, Regency and Renaissance if you prefer vintage clothing from way back.
• 1901–1919: Known as the Edwardian or WWI era, clothing from this period were influenced by Eastern fashion and the designer Paul Poiret. Examples include embroidered Edwardian corsets and blouses, and garments made of lace and linen.
• 1920–1938: A time of radical fashion changes, these two decades transitioned from the excesses and extravagancies of the Roaring ’20s (the flapper dress and cloche hat) to the more reserved clothing of the Depression era and ’30s.
• 1939–1946: During World War II, fashion ranged from fitted jackets and chiffon dresses to taffeta and lace eveningwear. The glamourous Hollywood style and hats were also popular in the 1940s. Look for items listed as ’40s, WWII and glamour.
• 1947–1964: Women started taking fashion cues from Jackie O and clothing style changed once again with the boxy jacket and skirt suits as well as one and two piece dresses gaining in popularity. Eventually, the knee length pleated skirts gave way to miniskirts, mini dresses, and hot pants. Clothing from this era are usually labelled rockabilly, swing, ’50s, and ’60s.
• 1965–1976: The fashion industry was flooded with natural/ethnic styles, floral and psychedelic patterns, bright colours, denim, and bell-bottoms during this period of time. Keep an eye out for items from Gunne Sax, or that’s described as boho, mod, hippie, Renaissance, or disco.
• 1977–1989: This most recent period was strongly influenced by the new wave and punk rock music movement — ripped jeans and T-shirts, leather jackets and skirts, and so on. If you prefer to walk on the wild side of fashion, look for items marked as ’80s, New Wave or punk .
Know Your Vintage Clothing Condition
Due to the fact that vintage clothing is not new, make sure that you are aware of the condition of a garment before purchasing it. Some sellers make use of a naming system that will help you assess what you can expect when you buy vintage clothing and accessories on eBay Australia. Here’s a listing of terms from the Fashion-Era Web site.
• Mint: Rarely found for vintage clothing, an item in mint condition means that it shows no sign of wear and is as pristine and perfect as when it was originally made.
• Near mint: An item that shows only the slightest signs of wear.
• Excellent: An item that has been worn occasionally and shows typical signs of wear.
• Very good: An item is considered wearable but has some surface flaws such as soiling or staining.
• Good: An item is wearable but cannot be returned to excellent condition even if repairs are made.
It is expected that most vintage clothing will show some signs of wear. The older an item is, the most likely it will display indications of its age. Although condition ranks as a main buying consideration for vintage clothing, it’s not as important for older items.
Don’t buy something that you consider inferior just because it is from a well known brand. Make sure you find out any damage or irregularities a garment may have from the seller. If you are unsure of the quality of a garment, ask for photos and don’t rely solely on a condition term.
Sizing wise, it is advisable to buy a little big. The fabrics of older vintage clothing tend to be more fragile and might not be able to withstand stretching. Also, do not depend on modern sizing when trying to determine if a piece of vintage clothing will fit you as the sizing can vary from decade to decade and also manufacturer to manufacturer. It is best to ask the seller for measurements.
Value Vintage Clothing
Besides being a fashion statement, vintage clothing can also be an investment. Items such as high end designer gowns, bowling shirts from the 1950s and Hawaiian print shirts are highly collectectible and hence quite valuable. If kept in good condition, their value will continue to grow as time passes.
It’s one thing if you like to pick up a fun, funky vintage item every now and then. However, if you are serious about wanting to start collecting vintage clothing, you will need to know about value.
Doing some research is the best way to be certain of the value of vintage clothing. Spend some time educating yourself by reading vintage clothing books and articles. You can also find a lot of resources online.
It is important that you recognise the particular clothing styles and characteristics of the eras which you are interested in. This way, you will know what to look for—and, perhaps most importantly, what to avoid, such as reproductions.
Many serious vintage clothing collectors only buy pieces with a label. However, a lot of vintage clothing does not have labels. If you are buying for resale or investment purposes, the quality and condition of the piece are very important. You might fall in love with a dress or purse, but the value may be lost if there are too many flaws.
Know Where to Look
Melbourne is the mecca of shopping in Australia, and that goes for vintage buys as well. Stroll down Chapel Street and you’ll find that vintage shops are in abundance.
Once you purchase a collector piece of vintage clothing, you will want to ensure its value does not diminish. Here are some tips for keeping your vintage clothing in top shape:
• Clean your vintage clothing properly. Any instruction listed on the care tag should be carefully followed. Hand wash fabrics such as cottons, acrylics, and polyesters with mild cleansers. Do not put your vintage clothing into a dryer, instead air or drip dry them so as to avoid fading and shrinkage.
• Wools, silks, delicate or embroidered pieces, suits, and gowns should only be cleaned by trusted professionals. Before storing, be sure to remove your garments from the plastic dry cleaning bags.
• Do not use metal hangers on any type of vintage clothing, use padded hangers instead. Also, delicate fabrics should be folded up and stored, not hanged.
• Store your vintage clothing properly. Keep clothes away from light, smoke, and animal hair. Heavy and older items should be kept in acid-free paper and boxes.
• Be sure to clean your wools and furs before storing. Some cleaners also offer summer storage in ideal conditions for furs in addition to cleaning.
• Wool items should be stored in a cool, dry place with cedar and mothballs.