Sunday, 27 January 2013

A Guide to Vintage Shopping

Whether you are a seasoned vintage shopper, or new to the vintage lifestyle, a shopping trip for a one off beauty can be quite the unpredictable experience.

From my experience, the key lies behind knowing your body and what suits you. This means that you can then target clothes from specific eras that would particularly suit your body. You are then able to focus your time into searching for the perfect piece, rather than being disappointed in the changing room 10 dresses later! A vintage shop can spoil you for choice by the rows and rows of clothes, as they aren't organised like a high street shop which subconsciously guides you around by its Petite, Curvy or Tall sections.

The 1940's

In wartime Britain, the 'made do and mend' culture was present in every household up and down the country. The clothes were expected to be durable and practical but flattering enough to welcome the troops home with, so as a result a 'plainer' predecessor to the fashion of the fifties. For this reason, I often reach out to forties style for a more everyday, daytime vintage look. It is very easy to find a beautiful vintage dress for an evening out, but when you decide you want to embed this style into all areas of your life, it can be very difficult to know what to wear and for me, the forties fit the bill.
Necklines were slightly higher, skirts a little longer and waists were still defined so forties clothing would suit all body shapes. As austerity was key in the early forties, fabric was made the most of and styles followed the silhouette. Pleats and capped sleeves were everywhere. Christian Dior's New Look in 1947 signalled the change that was due to occur in a few years time as he unleashed the ultra feminine styles making a ready change from the boxier styles of earlier times.
Signs of the forties are Floral Prints, Trench Coats, Fitted skirts, Pillbox hats and Narrow Belts

The 1950's

The fifties is my go to era for the perfect party outfit. The beginning of pop culture changed attitudes all over the world and the clothes certainly reflected this. Styles became more exuberant, from poofy skirts, shorter hemlines or lower necklines. The sudden exaggerated shapes were almost done in an attempt by people to forget the compromises made in the decade before! Shapes symbolised sexuality, confidence and elegance.

Colour returned, and it was a huge trend to match your hat, bag and gloves. People gradually could afford to accessorise and it become all about what you wore, and what you wore with it. Daywear was slightly more comfortable and the fashion was for separates, such as the cardigan and capri pants inspired by Grace Kelly. Evening wear was centered around the Black Dress.

Signs of the fifties are: Circular skirts, Cats Eye Sunglasses, Capri Pants, Silk Print Headscarves and Beaded Cardigans

The 1960's

I am a great lover of 1960s style and design, and dreamt of being Jean Shrimpton for so so long. I had a moment of realisation when, after struggling to get into the 5th sixties style dress, I had to acknowledge that original sixties clothing neither fits or suits me!

Jean's short skirt causing controversy at Derby Day in Australia
In the sixties skirts got even shorter, as any 50's conservatism was being replaced by social change and development. The post war baby boom had bred a generation wanting to be different. The Mini Skirt symbolised this change, and the marketing by Mary Quant helped to secure this.

As the impact of the media directly influenced fashion, it brought about the rise of the mail order dress. Those lucky ladies were able to write to a newspaper, and be sent a Biba or Quant dress!

Telltale signs include: A-Line Dresses, Mini Skirts, Knee High Boots, Metallics and Crochet Dresses

Whilst these decades may define themselves, we mustn't let them define us. I am by no way saying that somebody with a taller, less curvy figure wouldn't suit a forties style. I am simply highlightling the changes that developed during fashion over times. I really believe that you should dress to flatter your body, if you have a tiny waist or great boobs, don't be afraid to show them off! This is simply a guide to follow if you wanted to target a specific era, and may even help a little search on Ebay.  
I hope this has been informative, and please ask if you have any questions!
Lots of love,
Hannah xxx