Vintage clothing has always been a hot commodity for individuals seeking to stand out from the mall-wear crowd, but the level of interest in quality apparel worn by previous generations is currently higher than ever with “Mad Men” showing in living rooms and “The Great Gatsby” in theaters. In addition to classic styling, one of the biggest draws to vintage clothing is the individuality of each piece – a stark contrast from department store shopping amongst a phalanx of racks packed with countless copies of the same Made-in-China clothing.
While the competition between vintage shoppers has heated up a bit, you can take several steps to ensure you get unique pieces at vintage prices.
Know Your Size
Did you know that Marilyn Monroe was a size 14 according to sizing standards in the 1960’s? Her size 14 back then is now a size 8, giving you an indication of how much sizes have changed over the past 50 years. Using this Marilyn scale, you’ll need to add 4 to 6 sizes to each vintage piece. If you are a size 4, shop the pieces marked size 8 to size 10.
Know Design Styles of the Era You are Shopping
Design styles differed between eras as well. Designs in the 1950’s catered to curvaceous body types; and despite the fact that women had the right to vote, to work, and to drive their own cars, they chose to wear dresses made of opulent materials, with corseted waists and swirling skirts to mid-calf.
The 1920’s apparel was designed for linear body shapes, feminine grace, and elegance. Most people tend to think of the 1920′s style as the Flapper Look. The short, flared mini-skirt with headbands, and long quellazaires, but this style applies more to the 1960′s revival of the roaring Twenties look.
Labels in vintage clothing reveal information about specific pieces. Vintage brand labels commonly included the name of the city where the garment was created to add an air of exclusivity to the piece. Garment maker union tags, usually in red, white, blue are another common feature of vintage clothing and can reveal the date of the piece by matching the design of the label with the time frame for which it was used. For example, the tags for the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU) were changed eight times between 1900 and 1980. Images for the tags and the years they represent can be found online.
Hold the Garment to the Light
Holding a garment up to a light can illuminate holes, tears and areas where seams are starting to pull apart. These issues aren’t necessarily deal killers, especially if they can be fixed easily. Just make sure that the material in the area of the fix has not deteriorated to the point where it will need continual repairs.
Nikki Krohnfeldt, an expert on vintage clothing and proprietor of Blast Consignment, offered the best tip for getting great vintage pieces,“Vintage shoppers can always keep up with new inventory by letting the people at their favorite stores know what they’re looking for. The best pieces sell fast, so if one comes in that fits a customer’s description, we’ll drop them a call to give them a heads up.”
Visit arguably the best and most extensive selection of vintage clothing at Blast Consignment, 1936 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, or telephone them for inquiry about select designs and eras at (949) 494 9608.
Where, oh where shall you wear such beautiful clothing? Perhaps the romantic Moss Point.