Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Vintage Wednesday #30

(I took these photos last week, so that's why I'm wearing the same dress from the last Vintage Wednesday post.)

I have been an avid collector of vintage clothing for almost 10 years now. While by no means would I consider myself an expert I would say that I've come to find out what works for me when purchasing vintage clothing. This week I wanted to share some of my vintage hunting secrets.

#1) Price

In my opinion the #1 myth surrounding vintage clothing is that it's expensive. Don't buy into this! Remember that you are paying for something that is most likely used, no matter how cute or which designer it is. I don't think I have any vintage items that I've paid more than $35 on. My average purchase is usually around $15.

#2) Where to look

This leads us to where you should look to find good vintage pieces. Vintage shops, consignment stores, thrift stores, estate sales, antique shops, yard sales, etsy, ebay...all of these places will have you ready to throw your wallets at the checkout counter/button, but not all of them will have your paying the same price for a similar item.

Actually the first place I'd recommend looking won't cost you a penny...your mom/aunt/grandmother's closet. Why should those old bell-bottoms or floral fascinator sit around collecting dust when they are ready to once again see the light of day? Just make sure if you're borrowing family goods that you know any rules that go along with it...not letting friends borrow it, not selling it, not eating a big plate of spaghetti in it, etc.

If you enjoy shopping and get a thrill out of "hunting" for something you've been really wanting or you're considering trying out a new vintage/vintage-inspired trend I'd recommend visiting your local thrift store. You're going to have to put in a little effort to find what you're looking for and may have to visit a few stores before you're successful, but you can't beat a 60's maxi dress for $3, right?

Yard and estate sales are another adventurous way to find cute vintage clothing, but again you're going to have to put in some effort to find what you want.

If you know exactly what you're looking for I'd recommend searching ebay or etsy. If you're okay with a stain or two ebay can be a great place to look. Most people are just trying to get rid of old clothing and aren't concerned with making a ton of money on an item. However, if you're picky about your clothing and are looking for mint condition top of the line vintage etsy offers the community of your dreams. Sellers take their collections seriously and usually only sell items they would wear themselves.

Looking for vintage Chanel? Try a consignment store. You will pay the price though and will probably have to deal with snooty sales ladies judging you. :)

Then there are the obvious antique and vintage stores. In my experience there are good ones and bad ones of both. Some antique and vintage stores are way over-priced and don't have much to offer other than 70s and 80s reject clothing and others are a neighborhood mecca of all things cute and adorable. I tend to judge a place by their sales staff. If the staff is friendly and willing to work with me then I'm their customer for life. However if they are rude and not willing to compromise when a $20 dress has a huge stain across the front, then I probably won't be coming back.

#3) What to look for

Whether you're looking through aisles at a thrift store or browsing the rack at Father Time's Antique Nook it's important to know what to look for. Right now with the vintage trend that's hitting the mainstream clothing stores there are a lot of vintage inspired pieces in circulation. Labels and sizes can be a dead giveaway if an item is truly vintage or just a good imitation. With vintage labels you can see the wear and tear, the little stains, and older fonts. Also the label names will have a different ring to them; for example you're holding two skirts, one of them says, "It's a Leigh" and the other says, "Tramp Star". Which one do you think is vintage? Size is also a huge indicator as vintage sizes are much smaller than today's sizes. A size 10 in vintage sizing can fit like a modern day small. (Keep this in mind when buying online - always get the measurements!)

Along with actually checking to make sure an item is vintage you also want to make sure it's in good condition. Be sure to inspect all buttons, hemlines, seams and stains (including lifting up the sleeves and checking for pit stains). You wouldn't want to buy something only to find out later on that it's not wearable.

#4) Know what works for you

Knowing what does and doesn't work for your body and personal taste can help with making decisions of whether or not to buy something much easier. It takes awhile to get to this point though. I used to buy anything I thought was cute whether I knew it would look good on me or not. Then I'd end up with a ton of clothes that I'd never wear because they looked horrible. The hardest for me was coming to terms with the fact that my chest is too big to look good with 60s tent dresses. 60s style is my absolute favorite and I looooovvveee tent dresses. However they were made to look good on skinny girls with no chests. I still have a few tent dresses that I wear from time to time, but I have stopped buying them because I now know they don't flatter me. Bottom line: don't waste money on something that doesn't look good on you!

#6) How to care for your new treasure

Once you've come home with your amazing haul or you've just received your delicate package in the mail you're going to want to make sure your items are clean before wearing them. Most of my vintage clothing items have dry clean only labels on them. The problem with this? If you've ever taken a stack of items to the dry cleaner you'll know how expensive it can get. Anything I buy that's a linen, cotton, or polyester I'm usually able to put in my washing machine on the gentle cycle. For wool I'll use a little woolite and hand wash in my bathtub. I'll also hand wash anything that looks delicate. Have you ever taken a ceramics class? I think about kneading clay when I'm hand washing items. I tend to smoosh the water and soap out like I'm making my clay into a cube to get the air bubbles out. Of course there are some items that I inevitably have to take to the dry cleaner - usually coats or delicate cardigans. I find that sleeves tend to get stretched out with hand washing and I hate that. Anything I wash though - whether by hand or washing machine I'll always hang dry. I never put any of my vintage items in the dryer and I will encourage you not to either!

Well, that's it! You all now know my secrets! Happy hunting! :)

I hope you've enjoyed this week's edition of Vintage Wednesday and you are able to take something away from this! Check back next week for more vintage fun.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Don't You...Forget About Me...

Oh what a day! I'm updating at 5AM. I have to wake up for work in 5 hours and it's going to be a 12 hour work day. At least I was able to enjoy the sun for a little bit before work today/yesterday. It felt so good to roll around in the grass and take in the summer air.

I knew I wanted to pair these red tights with my pink dress today. The floral tee on the other hand was a last minute addition. It's my new favorite top right now. I love the way the teal contrasts with the red and pink florals! Since the red tights and floral tee are both pretty bold I went for neutral colored flats to even everything out. I'm really pleased with the way this outfit turned out and I'll definitely be copying it again for another summery occasion over the next few months. Ahhhh - months of summer! Don't you just love it?

Today at work our midnight movie was The Breakfast Club so I did my best to dress up like Molly Ringwald:

The outfit wasn't perfect, but I think I did a good job for using clothes that I already had. Next week is Fight Club and I'm going to wear Jon's red leather jacket and put a tiny bit of fake blood on my face (as if I've just been in a fight). Haha, I love dressing up!

In other VERY IMPORTANT news I caught Izzy and NES enjoying a late afternoon nap together:

I love my kitties so much! Everyone always comments on the fact that we have four cats and will ask how we can handle them all. I couldn't imagine it any other way though. They are all buddies and love each other to death and it's adorable!

The Breakdown:


Floral Tee: Target
Pink Dress: Forever 21
Red Tights: Target
Tan Flats: Target, Sale

Bracelet: H&M
Necklace: Forever 21

P.S. I'm sure you guys have noticed that I've started putting a signature on my photos. With the extra work I've been putting into them now that I'm using Photoshop I decided it was best to protect my photographs better than just having a disclaimer on my bio. What do you think about this? Is it distracting? Also, should I put "Cat Bird" or "Midwest Mayhem"? I thought putting both was too long (as seen in my first photo). I would appreciate any input that you may have!