Amazing Spaces Horsebox crystal vintage

Chloe’s Tips On Buying Vintage Clothing: Owner Of The Amazing Spaces Horsebox

Vintage clothes shopping has an excitement beyond the normal. Part of its appeal is that you never know quite what you are going to find. It is an adventure. It can also be terrifying if you do not understand exactly what you are looking at. Chloe Le Fay, the owner of the super funky Crystal Vintage shop in a converted horsebox featured on George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces, has kindly shared some of her knowledge with us with the aim of seeing that we all confidently buy and wear vintage, and with any luck look as darn cool as she does!

“A lot of people are squeamish about second hand clothes, which is strange, as no one gets squeamish about antiques. You are theoretically sitting on someone else’s old sofa or desk, so why balk at wearing someone else’s clothes?

These items, normally fabulously cared for and cherished over the decades, may hold the spirit and experiences of things you may never get to experience in your own life. For example the 70’s paisley pink and grey glitter maxi gown in my shop was owned by an Austrian Octogenarian and only ever left Austria once, which was to go to the casino in Monaco in 1969. She made that dress herself and never wore it again. The image of the experience is so evocative it is like a trip in time. And as it is a form of recycling we can truly enjoy doing our bit.

There are many interesting and fun ways to wear vintage clothes. For example if you pay attention to the seasons trends you’ll normally find some aspect of it is based on a vintage style. This week a quick flick through magazines show me duffle coats and capes; geometrics and monochrome; pinstripe and paisley, are all popular, which are typical of certain eras of vintage.

Some people approach vintage for its look, some for its quality. Anything pre 1930’s was fairly fine and dainty and often quite unwearable and will be more of a collectors item than an item you could wear everyday. Between then and the 1970’s I’d say you can get both quality and look because you can mostly guarantee that anything from the austere 40’s and on had to be made to last, and was very often bespoke and hand-made. The quality is normally outstanding considering it may have been around 70 years and still going strong. The fabric and the craftsmanship are normally very impressive. During the 70’s fabric became more synthetic and items more mass produced BUT the look became more flamboyant and eccentric so is still as valid.”

Tips for buying and wearing vintage clothing –

  • There is a lot of reproduction vintage on the high street today, which is mass-produced and made to fall apart. Spend time searching out the real thing as it will last for years, be a one-off and will have a good re-sale value if you decide to not wear it any more.
  • When searching, do the finger test. If you spot a fabric that looks vintage then rub it between your fingers or check the seams and you should be able to tell quite quickly if it’s modern or not, just by the quality.
  • The Vintage Fashion Guild offer a label resource service so you can look up your label and see what era and gauge the value better.
  • If you are buying online ask for measurements rather than the dress size, as a vintage size 14 could be as small as modern size 10 so be aware.
  • Check under the arms for stains and tears. Avoid tears that aren’t on the seam unless you are very handy with a needle or know someone else who is.
  • Stains can be removed with information easily found on the web and a bit of perseverance, but there is never a guarantee. However if the item is a must-have, it’s worth considering if marks can be hidden with accessories.
  • Look out for moth holes and if you decide to take it anyway, treat it when you get home by leaving it in the freezer overnight.
  • Zips often help you age an item, as what they are made of and where they are placed is often a give away of the authenticity of an era. Metal zips show if an item is older but they can become fragile with time so do check they work.
  • Try mixing and matching new with old, for example: skinny black jeans, long boots and a 50’s boucle cropped jacket; a 60’s cheesecloth maxi dress with cowboy boots; or a little wraparound dress with a 70’s faux fur coat.
  • Try mixing dainty clothes with chunky accessories or a plain design vintage shift dress with loud modern jewellery. For me more is more so I would go for full-on 60’s monochrome or 70’s power prints matched with all the fabulously oversized geometric jewellery found on the high street at the moment.
  • Don’t be afraid to customize, as that long 70’s maxi might look a bit too ‘Abigail’s Party’ as it is, but cut it mid thigh and you can wear it over jeans, leggings, on the beach with sandals etc. The same goes for arms, if it looks too much cut the sleeves off, or remove a frilly collar or high neck.
  • If you’re too nervous to wear vintage, try giving clothes a hint of vintage by sewing vintage buttons onto clothes, or by adding vintage fur trims or tassels.
  • Unless you want to create a revival look try not to put a hat, dress, bag and shoes all together.
  • Finally, don’t be afraid to mix eras, as fashion is fashion and not a history lesson. The 30’s slid onto the 40’s, the 40’s into the 50’s and so on, so relax and wear what you like rather than getting hung up on the authenticity of the era it came from.
  • Just consider it a beautiful original high quality item and wear it as you will. After all, there should be no rules to fashion.

For more vintage inspirations please visit the ‘my cool…’ Pinterest page

Big thanks goes to Chloe from Crystal Vintage:

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Jane Field-Lewis