Tuesday, September 4, 2012

How to shop for vintage clothing

I wanted to share with you some tips on vintage shopping that I have gathered over the years, I confess this post got so long that I’ll be posting it in two parts!

First, the incomparable Joan Holloway. Just because my blog needs a picture of her. She's a woman who knows how to show off her advantages and dress for her figure - a great role model to think of when shopping for vintage clothing.

Before stretch fabrics existed it was even more important to dress to suit your figure than it is now – nothing would fit otherwise! And you may have found the same frustrations when shopping for vintage clothing today.

Studying vintage sewing patterns and sizing has helped me to understand better the change in proportion over the decades and how it's really the ratio between bust-waist-hip that dictates the look of that time. 1950s dresses typically have a 10” difference between bust and waist. The 1920s silhouette was flat-chested and boyish. The good part is that with the benefit of hindsight and a love of vintage, you now get to pick and choose what suits you best. 
Here’s my advice to ensure a pleasant and fruitful vintage shopping trip.

The Elevator Girl’s Top Tips for Shopping Vintage

1. Measure your bust, waist and hip (while wearing the correct underwear, see point 4 below). Take these measurements with you when you shop.
2. Take a tape measure with you on your shopping trip. Not all vintage sellers provide sizes or waist measurements on their sale tags, and even if they do it may not be exactly accurate.
3. A 1-2” difference in any of those measurements is not a disaster. Sometimes alterations are possible, and while I don’t condone upcycling such as hacking off deep hems, small alterations can be done and indeed were often planned for in the construction of the garment.
4. I can’t stress enough how important period-specific undergarments are to the overall fit. Wearing vintage style underwear on your shopping trip will give a much more positive result when you try on your dream dress.

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