Friday, 1 January 2016

State of the vintage wardrobe

It's annual clothing tallying/assessment time. I've been doing this as long as I've had this blog. I'd always loved vintage clothing but only worn bits here and there, and I think when I started blogging I had some grand vision of moving to all vintage, all the time. That never happened – I'm too eclectic, and can't be bothered to faff with my hair for a 'proper' vintage look – but I find this a useful exercise as it helps me work out what I own and wear, and what I do/do not need. Plus, who doesn't love a snout through someone else's wardrobe? I know I do!


I started out years ago trying to achieve a deco look, but I've come to realise a late 50s/early 60s silhouette suits my figure, and the prices of actual vintage from that time suits my purse. Without meaning to I've ended up mostly in that space just before the 1960s really started to swing, when silhouettes were streamlined and 'active' but still ladylike, patterns bold and graphic without being psychedelic, and jewellery was BIG and BLINGY. I had been fighting it, but in the past year I embraced it wholeheartedly. Part of me would still like to steer a course for Deco Island, but I firmly believe that style should be natural. Instead of Deco Island I've washed up in Joan Holloway's clothes on Jackie O Beach.

Shopping-wise, 2015 was very different from previous years. I made the decision spend a bit more on my daywear and get things right. It's easier to find a good choice of cocktail and evening wear, in my experience, and in the past I've shied away from spending much on everyday clothes, but they're the things I wear most often so have the biggest impact on how I look and feel. It's daft to splash out on party frocks that get worn a handful of times and then skimp on a day dress that could be worn every week for six months. I also decided to pay much less attention to when things were made, instead asking 'Do I like it?', 'Is it also the sort of thing I enjoy wearing?' (because it's possible to like something on other people without enjoying it on onesself) and finally, 'Is it really going to fit me?'

The robot's new clothes



I did go a bit bonkers with the shopping... I don't think I've ever bought so many clothes in one year before. It's weird, I feel as though I have to justify this spending, even though I could afford it. (Note to self, and to anyone else in the same position: you earn it, you choose how to spend it!) And I no longer live in stuff I think is ugly or dowdy at weekends. That was one of my aims for 2015, to improve the way I dressed when I wasn't going into work, and I think I achieved it. I do occasionally slob out in my tired old longsleeved T-shirts and pure polyester travelling trousers, but they're the exception rather than the rule, and wearing them as a conscious choice makes wearing them enjoyable, a sign of a definite decision to take things easy, rather than a default natural state of slovenliness. Also, I've really embraced prints and colour this year, whereas previously I'd stuck to block colours. I tend to favour bold, clean designs rather than anything watercoloury or indistinct.

You'll be seeing all my frocks and tops again next year and beyond, too, assuming nothing dreadful happens to them or me, so it's not that extravagant. The dresses are mostly vintage or from dedicated repro companies but the tops I bought were from Boden, in the sale. I can't afford full-priced Boden, but their 60s-influenced patterns are irresistible, so I wait until the prices drop to buy things. To make room, I sent a number of garments to charity shops. I also wore out a couple of items. That does make me sad, after all you have to really love wearing something to wear it out. One was just a simple black jersey dress, but it was great for work, weddings, funerals, casual days – I just had to change the accessories as appropriate. I think this is the first time in over 20 years when I haven't owned a little black dress of some description.

I bought far fewer accessories in 2015 than in previous years, as I seemed to have as many as I needed. I got a replacement black boxy bag for work as the handle had gone on my usual one, and that was about it on the accessory front, until autumn came and new work shoes were needed. Being boring, I replaced my worn-out penny loafers with... another pair of penny loafers. Well, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. I also got a pair of plain black brogues. Those and the loafers were smarter than my hiking boots but just as practical unless I was actually going hiking. And then Porcelina sent me a handbag that was perfectly me. I've always had a theory that if you give stuff away, more stuff comes back to you. I gave clothes to a charity shop, Porcelina sent me a bag... I wonder what will be coming her way?

So, where do I think I'll go in 2016? To start with, I don't think my overall style will change: I'm happy on Jackie O Beach. While part of me really wants some more trousers and some pencil skirts, in 2015 it felt as though I bought something new (or new to me) every month. Because of that, I'm putting myself on a no-internet-shopping rule until July. I have enough, and I need to get more wear out of it all. However, as far as firm resolutions go, I have only one: to wear more of my jewellery. Most of it's costume and/or secondhand, but I like it, and I've realised I don't wear as wide a variety of it as I should on a regular basis so that's what I'm going to do. I've started in the picture at the top of this page - my New Year's Day outfit is a new-to-me midcentury dress (bought in Etsy seller Dethrose's Black Friday sale) and the coral necklace and earrings my stepnan gave me - I suspect they're 1950s or 1960s.

Have you made any fashion resolutions for 2016?

20 comments :

  1. I would love to say I will stop buying disastrous dresses but we all know that isn't going to happen when I hear the siren call of Ebay..... and I have to keep my blog readers happy too!

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    1. Think of your poor unemployed postman if you stop!

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  2. I like all of your purchases this year, but I think the Mode O'Day dress is my favourite. The colours and print are so good on you.

    I'm lucky that I live in a region that doesn't value vintage, and it is easy to find (and cheap). For a few dollars here and there, I can afford to stockpile. If I had to part with real money, I would be far more selective.

    Maybe I'll do something with my hair this year, but that's about all I have for a fashion resolution.

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    1. It's weird, there must be more out there in the UK but it seems to have disappeared from chazzas... Given Curtise's working-in-a-charity shop posts, I do wonder how much gets thrown out by volunteers who don't know what they've been given and just think people wouldn't like those 'old-fashioned' things.

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  3. I do love the colour of your hair :)
    I can't afford vintage items other than accessories and jewellery as it is so expensive round these parts and I have the added complication of being tall, so I opt for vintage appropriate or repro. In December I ended up six skirts, a scarf and two dresses the richer and gave in to sale temptation and have another skirt and dress on the way. Oops. But then I don't usually have any new clothes until I NEED them, so this was a real treat! xxx

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    1. Yeah, it can be hard to find the authentic stuff, especially for non-average body types. Being a fatty, I buy most of mine in from the US - they seem to have a better supply of plus size garments.

      Everyone deserves treats now and then.

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  4. Great post and you're right - its always good to have a snout through someone else's wardrobe. I really love that yellow dress with the large black buttons in the bottom photo of your collage - looks like it was a great buy.

    I didn't buy that much clothing in 2015 compared to previous years; this was probably due to me now being self-employed and not having a regular cash-flow. A lot of my usual daily/work clothes came from charity shops, but I didn't find much vintage in them though in 2015. Hopefully this year will be different.

    I never make resolutions as I know that there's a fair chance that I won't keep them, but if pushed I'd like to sew/knit more clothes and loose some weight so that I can fit back into some of my favourite vintage gear that's hiding at the back of my wardrobe.

    Happy 2016, Mim

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    1. My local charity shops have been pretty dreadful of late. Even good-quality classics (eg wool tartan/tweed skirts) haven't made it onto the shelves, let alone actual vintage. Perhaps people will have new year clearouts and more will start to appear in coming weeks.

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  5. When I say: you look great, I mean it! :)
    ...
    Firstly, this is my first comment here in 2016, so let' make it official: HAPPY NEW YEAR, Mim! I hope that heavens will grant you with as much joy as your heart can take in; and that you have a reason for laughter every day in the year (this goes for your hubby, too).. yeah, and the kitties. :)
    ..
    This past year, I've also come to realize that early 60s silhouette suits my figure.
    And, as a matter of fact, in this past year, I manage to go from owning no dresses, to owning quite the number of them - and, more so: paying them ridiculously cheap. :) I admit to buying more in 2015 than in many years before it.. and yet, spending less money on clothes.
    Thumbs up to all who go to vintage and second-hand shops with no shame.
    ..
    You know, I don't exactly make resolutions. I prefer the "open mind" method: if I see something that is good, I accept it, and bring it into my life (be it a habit, a piece of wardrobe, a new food...).
    ..
    So: BE WELL, my dear!
    M.

    P.S.
    We have the fluffy-snow thing going on here - and a massive northern wind.. so I call this a "not gong anywhere from this spot" Sunday.
    Here's to that. :)

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    1. Thank you for the lovely compliment :-) The early 60s silhouette suits so many people, I get very annoyed when people talk about vintage and only ever go on about the tiny 50s waist. There's a vintage for everyone.

      I get the feeling people in your area don't shop for secondhand clothes much, so you get to hoover up all the good stuff.

      You have snow? *Envy* All we have here is hideous amounts of rain.

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  6. Happy New Year! What a fab post. I do love a good snoop round other people's wardrobes too. You have some beautiful clothes. That yellow patterned dress with the black buttons is my absolute favourite. I don't think that being a slave to an exact look is always a good thing. I have seen a lot of people that can't cary it off and it just looks like a costume. Style is in-built and you are very lucky to have found out what suits you AND what you feel comfortable and look fabulous in. This magpie is looking forward to seeing more of your jewellery. Xx

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    1. I do love that yellow dress, though it doesn't get worn as often as it should. I think it's so memorable, I think I've worn it loads when it's hardly had an airing.

      If you're on instagram at all, I've hashtagged my jewellery pics #mimssparklechallenge , though I will probably do roundups on the blog every so often.

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  7. Happy New Year Mim! I really enjoyed everything about this post, the whole idea of assessing one's wardrobe, hearing about how you found the right style for you and of course having a good snout round your wardrobe. Good point re party dresses v everyday wear. I am always drawn towards party dresses, but don't go to many, so I end up wearing them to the pub, when we go to friends for dinner etc, but you're right. I wear the everyday stuff more, but paradoxically have less of it. Ah well. You have beautiful hair. I love that top photo where you have dark red locks with curls on the end. Gorgeous! Xxx

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    1. Thank you! The curly ends are natural, and seems to be happening with age. I don't have any grey yet, so it's an ageing-related WIN I guess. (There have to be some positives, after all...)

      My worst thing with everyday wear is keeping stuff that will 'do' even though I don't like it. Realising I was spending around a third of my time in stuff I didn't actually enjoy wearing was a shocker, but easy to put right.

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  8. Happy New Year Mim! I have to say I am with you on the spend-money-on-things-you-live-in approach. I used to skimp on underwear, sportswear and everyday work clothes - all the stuff that gets worn over and over. Not any more! Now my evening dresses are all complete bargains at £20 and under, and I've just spent the best part of £100 at the House of Foxy again on some separates, whoops. I shop at Boden too when there's a sale and they send me a discount, though I confess I shop in the teen girls section for tops and things because they fit me and there's no VAT!!

    I'm so glad you loved the bag! I have really enjoyed sending my unwanted clothing and accessories off to new homes in 2015 and will continue the clear out in 2016. I realise I will never get my wardrobe 100% perfect, but I keep making little breakthroughs and that's lots of fun too. The big realisation of 2015 was that if I dress in old t-shirts for yoga or bed, it makes me feel rubbish. So now I wear Sweaty Betty for yoga, and nice French silk slips for sleep, it's made such a difference mentally, it's been worth every penny.

    Anyway, Happy New Year - can't wait to see what developments your wardrobe undertakes....
    xx

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    1. I never used to skimp on underwear when I was younger, though I did go through a phase of it a couple of years back. Last year I bought matching sets again and realised what a wally I'd been! You're right, it's worth spending money on. It makes a big difference that people see on the outside, even if they never see the garments.

      I am hankering after a Foxy pencil skirt, but it will have to wait...

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  9. This is such a great way to usher in the new year and an important reminder that we should all take stock of our closets periodically.

    ♥ Jessica

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    1. It's a nice exercise. It reminds me of things I've forgotten, helps curb buying impulses because I can see what I've already got, and it helps me pinpoint weak areas where I need to replace basics that have got worn out.

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  10. I like the sound of your wearing more jewels goal; always good to have a bit of sparkle. I thought you found some great buys that really suit you last here. My charity shops have not turned up vintage goodies for ages. Hoping for better things this year!

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    1. Charity shops have been dire in recent months. I honestly don't know what's happened to my local ones.

      The jewellery challenge is proving interesting - I've found myself putting off wearing certain things because I know I want to save them, so I've had to start looking for alternatives earlier than expected. It's fun!

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