Hi there, hello, hi – this is my second post for She Might Be (super, duper excited about that), and I’d like to tell you a little bit about my love of 1940s and 1950s fashion, and – in particular today – true vintage clothes.
While there are some fantastic reproduction brands out there (and I’m sure we’ll explore them pretty extensively over the coming weeks), I have to confess to having a weakness for true vintage. Not only can you be fairly certain you won’t bump into someone wearing exactly the same thing, saving yourself from the awkward conversation where you decide to either laugh it off or avoid each other all night, but vintage clothes come with a story (and if the person selling it to you can’t tell you where it’s come from, you get to make it up!)
I used to assume that, because of my measurements, I’d struggle to find clothes from the 1940s and 1950s in my size. Oh, how wrong I was! It might be a little trickier, but through eBay, etsy, local charity shops, Facebook selling groups and some lovely friends with a passion for vintage and a tape measure about their person at all times, my collection is building up nicely.
Two of my very favourites – a mint green silk dress, and a late 50s checked suit – were found by my friends. I almost walked away from the green dress, until my friend Catherine assured me I was mad, and the suit (with my exact measurements) was found by the lovely Holly in a Folkestone charity shop. That was a VERY excited telephone call! I’ve found skirts by asking in the local charity shops if they have any vintage ‘out the back’ (it doesn’t tend to sell in my little town, which is great news for me), and I’ve found a few bargains on eBay too.
There are also a few traders that have a good plus size selection. Tanya at Secret Plus Size Goddess spotted Timebomb Vintage at this year’s Twinwood Festival, and very politely pulled me away from another stall to go and take a look. I am so glad that I did – not only do they have wonderful dresses, but the bag collection…wow. (as some of you may have seen, I’m posting about accessories separately, or we’d be here all day, but…wow.) Scarlet Rage Vintage has a great selection of sizes, as do Gingermegs Vintage and Maggie Mae’s Vintage (and if you know what you’re looking for, it’s worth asking if they can keep an eye out for it on their travels).
If you fancy trying out true vintage for yourself, I’ve got a few hints and tips that might help:
If at first you don’t succeed, please give it another go. Stock is constantly changing, whether you’re looking online, in charity shops or vintage boutiques, so just because you’ve had an unsuccessful search one weekend, doesn’t mean you’re never going to find anything.
Don’t be too wedded to eras – the blue and red check dress below is almost certainly 80s-does-50s rather than true 1950s, and I adore it.
Accessories (I know, I said I’d talk about them another time, but I promise – I’ll be quick) are a nice way to test out a vintage look; they look great styled with reproduction or entirely modern outfits.
There are also plenty of books to help you get started – the Style Me Vintage range is wonderful, with separate books for eras, hair, clothes, accessories, make up and home.
If you see something you like (and you can afford it), buy it. You can always sell it on if you get it home and find it doesn’t work for you, but if someone else snaps it up, you might always regret it.
Side note: I learned this lesson at an early age, during a family holiday to Norfolk. My sister and I had a bit of holiday money (given by grandparents and my mum) and my sister saw a gymnast Barbie on our first day that she was desperate to buy. Mum encouraged her to wait until the last day, as it would use up all her holiday money. She duly saved it all week, but when we went back on the last day, they’d sold out.
My sister took it well, and only complained about it for 23 years (until she found one on eBay, which was a good day for us all). So, as I say – if you can afford something and you love it, buy it.
And, most importantly, have fun, try new things, embrace your shape, and enjoy!
How about you, readers? Do you wear true vintage? Where do you find it? Is there an amazing place for vintage shopping that I’ve missed out that we should all know about?