Sunday, September 18, 2011

Vintage 101 - A Beginners Guide to Buying Vintage

Elizabeth TaylorElizabeth Taylor - Image by FilipĆ£o 28 via FlickrBy Helen MacGillivray


Let's uncover an appreciation for this avant-garde fashion trend. It may be the elegance attached to these garments or possibly the uniqueness of each piece but if you haven't discovered vintage attire, you're missing out. Before you head out to begin exploring, there are a few things that you should know.


1. Sizing - take note.

Vintage attire fits differently and their sizes take a little getting used to. Marilyn Monroe was said to have worn a size 12 (US) (16 UK) dress but, by today's sizes, that would put her at around a size 6/8. At the same time, women wore real foundation garments back then - garments that were both body mounding and size reducing.
- Don`t fret when you read the sizes. Go by the measurements instead. Most good vintage stores will indicate the measurements of their garments.
- If buying vintage online, it is absolutely imperative that you go by measurements!


Experts go back and forth on whether or not you will be damaging the piece or reducing its resale value by tailoring it; however, if it doesn`t fit properly, you will never wear it. I hereby give you permission to tailor away so that you have the perfect fit. I spoke with a vintage store owner in Calgary and a vintage guru from the east and both strongly recommend that you tailor everything.
- My personal motto about clothing: everything should be tailored! There are few one-size-fits-all.


Vintage shopping isn`t like traditional retail! If something doesn`t fit, you can`t ask for a different size because each piece is unique. I encourage you to take some time to warm up to the idea of trying things on -and I mean lots of things! By the way, don`t shop on a full tummy. Shopping just after you eat is a no-no. Remember to wear clothing and shoes that are comfortable and easy to remove.

4. BUY IT!

These are one-of-a-kind pieces. You will likely never find that same piece again so if you really like it, don`t wait. Buy it!



Flapper girls were all the rage in the Roaring Twenties but, even though we entered into a more modern era, evening fashion wasn't always practical for women. Evening wear was all for show and often times it was over the top! Low waisted dresses were introduced, hats became a must and bras became much more common with the ladies. At the same time, girls chopped their hair into adorable bobs. Style Icons: Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli waist.


The Great Depression forced most women into making their own clothing which, inevitably, resulted in fashion becoming much simpler - still, hats remained a must for ladies' fashion. Style Icons: Betty Davis, Greta Garbo, Mae West.


Dresses often emphasized an hourglass figure. A-line skirts came in style. A military influence crept into female fashion (structure). Women`s fashion saw lots of shoulder pads and the popularity of ladies' pants sky rocketed as women entered into the work force. Style Icons: Judy Garland, Lucille Ball.


Glamour had once again returned and we saw the introduction of the sexy pencil skirt and more full skirts. Ladies' fashion wasn't the only demographic that was in need of style. This is when teenage fashion emerged. Up until this point, young ladies dressed in the same clothes as their mothers. Don't forget the poodle skirts from Grease! Style Icons: Debbie Reynolds, Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe.


Skirts were officially shortened with the introduction of the mini. At the same time, very skimpy bikinis hit the market. Less is more! Ladies loved their Goo-Goo Boots, PVC dresses and loud prints. Look to our girls from Mad Men to get a glimpse at their fashion. Teenagers became a leading buyer in the market which helped push boundaries in the fashion world. Style Icons: Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Twiggy and Jacqueline Kennedy.


From minis to maxis, the 70's took a psychedelic approach to style. Out with bras and structure! The 70's were a whimsical period where we saw one-piece halter suits, platform heels and bell bottomed flares. Style Icons: Bianca Jagger and Farrah Fawcett.

Helen MacGillivray, president and founder of Miss Helen's Image Consulting received professional accreditation from the Sterling Style Academy, an internationally recognized institute in New York City. Miss Helen's provides quality service to clients who are searching to define their own unique style.

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1 comment:

  1. I love the world of beautifully the tips & information shared by the above post..its really appreciable..
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