The Beauty of Vintage

Vintage, Retro, Antique? Whatever you want to call it, turning to the decades gone by to get the sought after look of today, is becoming ever more popular with fashionistas around the globe.

Vintage clothing (to which it is most favourably known) is fast becoming the ‘trendiest’ way to shop, and with today’s most prominent fashion power-houses continuing to look to the past to create future collections, it seems vintage clothing is the way forward.

It’s no secret that vintage clothing has been sought after by avid vintage collectors seeking iconic pieces for the last 30 years now, but these days it seems everybody’s doing it.

Whether you love to dress in ‘50s clobber and nothing but, or you just want to add an original quirk to your high street ensemble, vintage clothing is available to all.

And so it seems vintage is the new black!

Of course, many fashion enthusiasts have long been scouring the racks of charity shops and trawling through endless piles of old clothes to find that one shining diamond in the rough, but these days – since the birth of the internet – obtaining that one off  piece of fashion history is easier than ever!

With the ever present eBay and numerous cool vintage boutiques popping up on the web, vintage clothing has well and truly arrived in ‘The Fashion Hall of Cool’.

So what is all the fuss about? Why the hype? I hear you ask.

Let’s face it, anyone who’s really into fashion wants to follow the trend, yet doesn’t want to look like everyone else at the same time. In a weird fashion paradox, we are all striving to ‘be different’ at the same time as relentlessly following fashion magazines to find out ‘what we should be wearing this season’!!! It’s funny but true.

This is where vintage clothing comes in.

80s 'Trailer Trash' chic - love it!
80s ‘Trailer Trash’ chic – love it!

Fashion is rarely, truly original these days, it seams every few years we are looking to a different decade to choose the look of moment.

Eighties is the current ‘darling’.

Who’d of thought 5 years ago that we’d all be crooning after high waisted, cut-off 501’s again! And worse still, putting it with a leotard and a checkerd lumberjack shirt? Yuck you’d have shouted! Yet, we’re all loving it, me included, and somehow it manages to look modern and fresh!

I have no problem with fashion skipping backwards. In fact, I love it!

There have always been those key iconic pieces that never tire of looking good –  the Chanel cardigan, the Chanel blue & white striped sailor top (lovingly reworked again and again by Jean Paul Gaultier) the Chanel chain bag (one of the most popular accessories of all time) and of course, the little black dress. In fact, come to think of it, Chanel has been single-handedly providing us with fashion classics for the last 80 years. Quite appropriate then that a new movie – Coco before Chanel – has been made coveting the life of this remarkable woman. About time too!

Audrey Tatou in the archetypical Chanel sailor top in 'Coco before Chanel'
Audrey Tatou in the archetypical Chanel sailor top in ‘Coco before Chanel’

And so it seems, when the Hollywood elite stroll up the red carpet at the Oscars, it’s always the coolest young starlets, noted for their beautiful vintage attire, that gain the most kudos – well in my opinion anyway!

But let’s not forget the military jacket, the mini skirt, and of course, the denim jean – invented by Levi Strauss in 1853 and, arguably the most successful fashion ‘invention’ of all time. Revamped again and again, these items are always present in the fashionable undercurrent. These fashion staples have firmly placed themselves in our hearts and it seems we don’t ever want them to go.

Original Levis from 1898 recently found in a Californian goldmine reached $36,099 on Ebay
Original Levis from 1898 recently found in a Californian goldmine reached $36,099 on Ebay

With this in mind, it’s easy to see why so many of us have fallen in love with the idea of owning the original.

Yes they’ve been worn before and yes there is a stigma attached to that (and maybe a slight musty scent!) but to own an authentic fashion relic that has inspired so many fashion super heroes, and has a story and a past life is far more interesting!

I’m not just talking about vintage Dior or original Ossie Clarks, because, let’s face it, whilst we’d all love to own something of that calibre, it’s not exactly within our budgets and highly impractical in this day and age! Plus you’d never dare wear it for fear of wrecking it after a good night out! And I believe fashion is all about fun and enjoyment.

Love the clothes you wear and love the fact that they’ve been loved before!

Even high street giant Topshop jumped on the vintage band wagon (rightly so) 15 years ago, stocking vintage in their flagship store on Oxford Circus. I can still remember my delight as a thrifty, retro-loving 15 year old, dashing down the escalators to check out the newly opened vintage section all those years ago! Vintage clothing found a whole new generation to cast its dusty spell over.

And so, vintage hit the main stream.

Kate Moss, Topshop does Woodstock, summer 09
Kate Moss, Topshop does Woodstock, summer 09

10 years later it was stronger than ever, cue Kate Moss to create vintage inspired collections and, vintage, along with Topshop, reaches a whole new level of cool.

Topshop have now taken the vintage trend even further by consulting legendary fashion designer of the ‘60s Barbara Hulanicki of BIBA (an emporium of swinging ‘60s cool) and Celia Birtwell, genius textile designer and integral other half of the Ossie Clark label.

Vintage-inspired is not, however, to be confused with vintage. The difference is simple – one is old, and one is made to look old. It is only really a substitute for the real thing. Whilst there is nothing wrong with this (why not bring back those iconic designers of the past to keep the ‘60s fashion fires burning?), it does detract from the best reason of all about buying vintage – it’s recycling at its very, very best!

In this over zealous consumerist society in which we live, fashion, and indeed everything, is produced and devoured at such a rapid rate.  And in a ‘today’s news is tomorrow’s chip paper’ kind of way, fashion and technology move on so quick that we are all struggling to keep up. Designers, it seems, are scrabbling to keep up with today’s hungry demands and with so many people around Britain in debt to the max with store ‘credit cards’ or ‘loyalty cards’, as it’s so eloquently put, it’s easy to ask the question, at what consequence?

Mass produced tends to equal a compromise on quality and individuality.  But with rock chic belts being tightened across the world it’s not hard to understand why we opt for the cheap n cheerful option.

That’s the beauty of vintage.

It doesn’t have to cost a well groomed arm and a leg to look good in vintage. There are plenty of top notch vintage boutiques online and off selling quality vintage at affordable prices. Or better still, get yourself down to your local charity shop to find yourself a gem and do your bit for a good cause in the process! What could give you more satisfaction?

70s mock croc chain bag, £38 - The Stellar Boutique
The Stellar Boutique, 70s mock croc chain bag – £38
80s vintage tiger top
The Stellar Boutique, 80s sequined tiger top – £28

Vintage clothing comes from an era where things were made with more time and care. Vintage is ethical.

We all know that children are being exploited at the expense of our thirst for the latest look, pumping out new clothes in a fashion frenzy and as cheaply as possible in the sweat shops of poorer countries. What’s more, our planet is being slowly killed by us humans relentlessly polluting it with chemicals and waste. So perhaps it’s time we replaced fashion frivolity with fashion responsibility and look to past clothing to enable us to look to a brightly coloured future.

But, with everyone getting in on the act, will it bring the demise of ‘vintage cool’? I say, not at all! It seems the more we integrate vintage into our current wardrobes, the more interesting and unique our outfits turn out. Ironically, the more we refashion the clothing from the past, the more creative we become.

So the message is simple then…

Buy vintage – look good – and save the world!!!!!


Shop for Vintage Clothing at The Stellar Boutique.


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