25 Mar 2014

My Do's and Don'ts for Vintage Shopping


When I get married, I want EVERYTHING to look like it was borrowed from the set of a 1960s movie. 

Has it ever occured to you that even in the 21st century we still wear 20s, 30s, 40s, 60s, 80s inspired clothing, buy the furniture from that era and even now try to re-enact makeup and hair styles from then?

I love makeup more than fashion (everyone knows that), but every once in a while I display a fashion quirk that leaves people either saying "you look good Barbara" or "did you just wake up and come to work today?". I always say that I have no style so end up wearing staples like shirt and trousers and jeans and tees.

Sometime last year, I started purchasing some vintage items from Elsie Vintage (owned by stylist Onyinye Fafi Obi, who has forgotten to send me pictures of the ones on sale every month). For the very first one I purchased from her monthly sale, I was so excited I posted an Instagram video about it (you can check it on my Instagram channel - @barbara1923)
After months of being in and out of the whole vintage fashion scene (don't get me wrong, I loooove vintage style), I have decided that perhaps I should share the things I look out for when I am purchasing vintage clothing (or even shoes cos I go thrift shopping for shoes, scarves etc. too).

  1. Love at first sight: I am a horribly impulsive buyer. Surprising because I seem to never buy anything. I hate shopping for clothes cos it takes forever to find my size. But anything else I buy, I am instantly drawn to from the moment I set my eyes on it.
  2. Comfort: if it is to be worn, then it has to be comfortable. Comfort is the only thing that can make me decline a purchase. I always try it on for size. If I can't try it on at the store or place of purchase, I ask if I take it home and try it for size to return if doesn't fit. If they say no, it ends there; but if they say yes, then the level of comfort is the determinant.
  3. Take a tour: I never used to do this when I first started and I ended up purchasing some thrash but thankfully I know better now. I take a tour of the item - I look at the collar, the sleeves, the hems, the buttons, the cuffs. It has to be in good condition for it to survive more wears and washes you know. If it's shoes, I especially look at the heel (i once purchased lovely brogues with literally burned out heels. Was too proud to admit I'd been had so I wore them like that walking sideways and eventually having to toss them because they were really worn = wasted money).
  4. Instinct says: while I am impulsive at making purchases, I obey my instinct. If for the life of me I can't figure out where I'd wear the item to, I don't buy it. No one else in my family wears vintage so I really need to think through before purchasing anything that can be labelled as 'old school'.
  5. Who?: I am yet to familiarise myself with a lot of vintage designers and considering that I am not particular about the decade, I have a wider selection to choose from when compared with core vintage buyers. What I look out for more are the designs - i love florals and bright colours in general or I go for pale colours; fabric - I love chiffon, silk, tailored linens and brocade; length - I go for cropped when it comes to jackets, mid length for skirts and dresses, long sleeves for blouses and cropped for pants (haven't found one that fits me though). Whatever you desire works for one though.
  6. How much?: don't be deceived, vintage can cost a pretty penny while at the same time it can be quite affordable. I cut my coat according to my size. I try not to go over-board as I always remember that I can only wear them one after the other.
I am sure there are a couple others I must have missed out though, or don't even know yet, lol. There are a couple of things I would absolutely love to own (if you have any of the items, you can sell it online here*) or send me a mail. Hope it's my size though. Here they are

Embellished jackets - for any type of formal occassion or a really VIP event. Certain to stand you out
Vintage shoes - I have always been a sucker for lace ups, maryjanes, brogues and really weird style shoes (even before I knew I loved vintage), lol
Vintage accessories - I am a sucker for brooches and headbands. They add instant vintage appeal to your outfit.
Cloche hats - I am not a hat person (just needed to state that)  but for the past 5 years I have been craving a cloche
I hope this post has been helpful to someone and for sure I am looking forward to hearing about your vintage shopping expeditions. Please, please send me mails to let me know how it goes and by all means stop by at Elsie Vintage and tell Fafi I sent you.
Ngozi M said...

Great post! love it. unfortunately not too many options for vintage/vintage spired clothing in Nigeria.

Barbara Onianwah said...

You are right there Ngozi but still we can't help loving what we love I guess.

Nnene K. M. said...

Great post Barbara! I LOVE vintage. I often find myself excited by the opportunity to visit little vintage shops when visiting other cities. Like Ngozi has said I wish there were a lot more shops in Nigeria however I am very happy to learn about Elsie Vintage.

Khan Miron said...

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