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Spring into vintage

By Nicole Danielle Warr

The term “vintage” has become very popular in recent times but how do we define vintage? Something old? Antique? Second hand? It can be all of those because vintage means different things to different people. To some it means Aunt Matilda’s mothball laden overcoats or some dusty old items of furniture. To others it’s a salute to the past with its classic fashion and décor. I am firmly in the latter camp. Vintage fashion means embracing the essence of bygone fads and fashions and reworking it into a modern context – mixing modern with vintage.

I’d love to share my top five vintage fashion items for spring:

1. The pleated skirt.

Think Marilyn Monroe in her iconic white pleated dress. Dreamy, feminine and fun (especially if the wind catches it!). High waisted pleated skirts look best with a well fitted blouse, a jersey and a statement waist belt. Popular vintage colours at the moment are ivory white, mint green, dusty pink and maroon.

Pleated skirts work well for the fuller figure too, as the movement is vertical and if worn in a darker shade, such as black or navy blue, it will complement the shape in more ways than one. The best part about pleated skirts? They have elasticised bands – in fact, I’ve never seen one that doesn’t have one.

2. The fifties style dress.

Floral print never seems to go out of fashion. One could put together images of people wearing floral from every decade. For this spring however, it has to be the 50s style floral dress. Conservative top, a cinched waist and a wide knee length skirt (the bigger the skirt, the better!). Remember when wearing floral not to overdo it. My advice would be to wear one floral item at a time and to refrain from mixing florals with other patterns such as stripes and polka dots. It’s best to pair your dress with a cardigan for those chilly spring evenings.

3. Vintage style sunglasses.

Some of the greatest vintage style sunglasses have to be wayfarers, aviators, Jackie O’s and cat’s eyes. You might have thought that these styles are modern, but fashions have a way of resurfacing and designers do love to borrow from the past. Remember Audrey Hepburn’s wayfarer style sunglasses in Breakfast at Tiffany’s? Tom Cruise’s aviator sunglasses in Top Gun? Jackie Onassis wearing her signature oversized, round sunglasses (this style was named after her), and the cat’s eye sunglasses worn by every housewife in the 50s and 60s?

4. Clip-on earrings.

I have a pair of clip-on earrings that are very dear to me. They belonged to my grandmother and anyone who knows me knows that I wear them all the time. What I love about them is that they compliment any outfit. If you can’t get hold of your grandmother’s vintage clip-on’s, don’t worry too much as many of the vintage stores and markets still sell them. However, they’ve become so popular that many of the vintage sellers are saying that they’ll soon become scarce again.

5. Mary Jane style shoes.

Shoes have a way of rounding off a look. When it comes to vintage, a Mary Jane style does just that. My advice would be to start off with a neutral colour, such as tan, black, navy blue or ivory white. This is to ensure that they’ll match with all your outfits and then, when you’re ready, perhaps start experimenting with bold colours such as maroon, bottle green and true red.

Top tips when buying vintage:

  1. Always try the item on! Sounds a bit obvious but a lot of people just buy items without doing this. Vintage clothing fits differently to the clothes we buy today.
  2. Check for stains, holes or loose threads. Some can be mended, but some are not worth the effort.
  3. Check the label – this will give you an indication of the item’s worth and whether the selling price is reasonable.
  4. I recommend hand washing most vintage items, especially lace. Older fabrics may be damaged in very hot water.
  5. Have fun! Thrifting can soon become a great hobby of yours!Above all, remember that vintage is fun. Vintage is a treasure hunt. Vintage is past meets present. Vintage is versatile, dynamic and rewarding for the lover of fashion. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Good hunting…

Nicole Danielle Warr is the Editor of Vintage Lifestyle Magazine, South Africa’s first online vintage magazine. www.vintagelifestylemag.co.za.
This article appeared in the Sep/Oct issue of Radiant on page 13. View it here.


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