Vintage fashion is having a moment. So, be the master of vintage shopping this season with our round-up of the best insider secrets from those in the know.
1. It’s who you know.
If you’re new to vintage, it might feel intimidating to go into a shop. At Beyond Retro the staff are a mix of creative types – from artists, musicians, stylists and photographers, and they’re all knowledgeable and passionate about vintage fashion. Talk to the staff, get advice and make friends. You will soon find yourself receiving one-on-one attention. Who said personal shopping could only be found on Bond Street, eh?
2. Do your trend research before you go.
Whether you’re inspired by womanly glamour with a sixties vibe, via Jasper Conran, or prefer a forties-style fit and flare coats as seen at Prada, don’t think you can’t work those vintage-inspired trends in a 2013 way. Research in magazines like our Marie Claire Runway to get all the scoop on new season fashion then go armed with your hit list.
3. Check, check and then check again.
Nothing could be more annoying than spending time rummaging through the bargain bin to find that when you get your prized piece home there’s a sneaky hole or two under the arm. You won’t be able to take it back – most vintage shops don’t do refunds – so it’s always worth taking the time to check over your purchase. When it comes to aftercare, listen to the experts. Follow Blitz on Brick Lane’s lead, and: ‘Don’t wash your vintage denim, it’s always best to dry clean.’ Ask in-store for alterations, you will often find they have a in-house service.
4. Do it like the celebs.
Lucy in Disguise in London’s Soho is a favourite of Dawn Porter, Cara Delevingne and Jaime Winstone. It has a mix of high-end designer pieces and more trend-led styles in a super luxe environment but with prices starting at £35.
If you like your shopping experience to be less rummaging on rails at bursting point and more perusing owner Sarah Owen’s carefully selected edit then this is right up your street. We love the accessories section at the back of the store and The Drama Parlour where you can nail the 40s victory roll.
5. Go for a shopping shortcut.
Look for areas up and down that country that have vintage fashion shopping sorted for you. Think a vintage version of Oxford Street but without all the tacky tourist shops. We love Church Street in Stoke Newington, the Northern Quarter in Manchester and the Kensington/Sydney Street area of Brighton.
6. Don’t get too hung up on the label.
Yes, it would be amazing to find an original Dior ‘New Look’ dress at a fantastic price but don’t fret if you never do. Take your time to look at pieces individually for what they are; do they work with exisiting pieces in your wardrobe? Do they need alterations? Is it in your price range? If all lights are green, go for it. It’s not always about the designer label, but the fact you have found a unique piece with a history behind it.
7. It’s all about the fit.
It sounds obvious, but as the team at Absolute Vintage in London’s Spitalfields point out: ‘Don’t buy shoes and hope they will stretch, it already has, it’s vintage!’ Look for natural fabrics like leather, cotton and silk, they last longer than man-made material and so will last for many more years to come.
8. Work with what you’ve got.
Think about what best suits your body shape. Forties silhouettes suit a tiny waist, the wide-leg flares of the 70s flatter long legs and the 60s mini shape fits petite frames like a dream. Armed with this information specific to your body shape, will save you time and money in the vintage fashion hunt. Plus, stores are often merchandised in eras so stick to yours and you can’t go far wrong.