WHAT IS VINTAGE?
Merriam-Webster defines vintage as "of old, recognized, and enduring interest, importance, or quality : classic; dating from the past : old". It may come as no surprise then that people who like to thrift also appreciate vintage, cuz they’re basically the same thing. Someone’s old is their new. Make sense? Hope so, because this is the premise of my vintage series. (Please do not scold me; I know that true vintage is 20 years or older, but for the sake of this series I will use the words vintage and thrift synonymously. More on true vintage later.)
Now I may lose the attention of many a reader with the mere mention of the word vintage or thrift. Some women love fast fashion - what’s in trend now, inexpensive materials, here today/gone tomorrow. Some women love brand new, some may find thrifting to feel dirty or second rate. Some may prefer designer, although vintage designer is EVERYTHING. (Just thought of another blog post!) But there is a large population of folks who the enjoy thrifting in the hopes of finding a one of a kind garment, hat, bag, broach, shoes, and/or other accessories in which will undoubtedly bring you compliment after awe-stricken compliment. Thrifting has in fact become so cool that there is a whole industry on reselling it at supply & demand prices. Websites like eBay, Etsy and Poshmark have been around for a minute - I got my timeless 70’s orange wool fur collar coat from eBay over 10 years ago. Even Instagram has become a popular vehicle for online resellers; it’s the perfect way to curate your merchandise and reach a very specific demographic. W Magazine caught wind and published this article featuring their top 5 vintage boutiques on the Gram.
OUR PLAY DATE
Well I know a couple of gals who own vintage boutiques, so we got together for to dish vintage. Meet Lola Ferdinand of LaLolitaVintage and Rebecca Howe of YellowArrow. At home the general consensus was we all loved finding unique pieces to interpret into our own personal style. in my studio, each lady brought a few of their favorite pieces, and together we played dress up, styled each other, oohed, awed and cooed over all the pretty things on the rack. Once the excitement settled, we sat down to discuss our personal back stories with vintage.
Rebecca said her love of vintage/thrifting all started when she was a young girl. Her family came to America from Guatemala. Their budget for clothes or home goods was pretty low, so it was there that she developed her love of vintage. She is married to a pastor and they've spent many of their years together on mission trips around the world. This opportunity to give back to other communities has given her another appreciation for culturally different fashion. Not only has she given her time and energy to building new homes or churches, but she's giving to their local economy. Feel good vibes. “To be honest it’s also like a thrill. A thrill to hunt for the best pieces and price!” You don't have to travel all over the world to get the thrill of finding THAT piece. We find the thrills at our local thrift stores, too.
THE INDIVIDUALITY Lola’s love for vintage also came from family; her mom used to take her to the thrift stores as a kid. She loves vintage styles and the best place to find older styles is the thrift store. When she’s perusing rack after rack she feels like it’s some sort of library. Each piece has its own story with a Choose Your Own Adventure ending! Her family comes from Panama where so learned to incorporate color and texture into her wardrobe. Her mom used to design clothing, too, so she learned through infusion the eye for lines, fabric, fit and value. Finding her style completely as your own, Lola mixes different eras; like wearing an 80's swimsuit as a bodysuit and coordinating it with a pair of 70's linen pants. Just like the library she can discover a new look, new era, new style with every piece.
My story is kind of the same; My parents divorced when I was only three and my mom didn't remarry until I was eight. Having been a stay at home mom and suddenly thrust into the working world without a college degree my mother worked odds and ends jobs barely making ends meet. Needless to say money was tight and I wore a lottttt of hand-me-downs and not just my sister’s old clothes, either. There were many an outfit bought at garage sales or donated from family friends. At such a young age I was aware of this economic situation, but I never felt that I went without or that I was wronged somehow by wearing the rainbow stripe terry cloth tank top I’d seen my older sister wear umpteen times before. In fact I was content with items that I once adored on my sister were now mine. This feeling never ended. There was Goodwill at the shopping center I grew up near and in middle school my friends and I would buy old man polyester button ups - you know the ugly brown striped shirts your grandpa’s used to wear. We wore them with baggy boy jeans and skater shoes. Whaaa? Yeah, awkward adolescence. While attending VCU in Richmond, vintage shops were everywhere and I was in heaven. I still have storage tubs full of gorgeous vintage finds from my 20’s. (I think I just thought of yet another bog post!)
After talking about our experiences it became clear that we all shared very similar stories - vintage started in the family. We all harkened back to specific memories from our childhood that shaped our perspective about second hand clothing. The thrill, the individuality, the affordability. What about you - do you shop vintage? What’s the appeal for you? Share your stories in the comments below.