As you may have gathered from my previous posts, I like a little nostalgia and vintage. Whether its jewellery, fashion or furniture, I like a little history. There is something deeply moving in some aspects of vintage. My engagement ring is vintage, and I love that fact it has a story, it feels like it has a persona, a life before it was mine and I feel this about many antique things.
My great aunt was the person that started all this for me, I remember as a child visiting her house, it was like walking into a museum. She was so chic, and so elegant, and the house always smelt of rich tobacco. Everything about it was vintage. From the moment I walked through the door it was like walking into the past. She was a huge lover of fashion, maintaining that she would rather leave a wardrobe of fine clothes than a wealth in the bank. And that’s exactly what she did...
As my mother and I cleared out her endless wardrobes and attic trunks after she had gone I was utterly enthralled with the sheer quantity of items. There were whole shoe boxes of lipsticks, another for powder compacts, another for earrings, more and more for all kinds of accessories. There was a whole box full of silk scarves, another for belts, gloves, hats, stockings, it was just never ending!
There was a lifetime of shopping and indulging her passion for fashion. I’m happy to say that I still own, use and have kept many of these items, some I will never use, and some are now treasured antiques. I certainly did not know they would become antiques when I was aged twelve and just fascinated by the smell of the velvet jackets and the pristinely kept stockings. Ever since then I have ‘collected’ clothes and accessories. My attic is my own treasure trove now, and my husband despairs’ every time he goes up there. I do not like to throw anything away and now as I reach the first cycle of fashion (10 years) I’m starting to appreciate this a whole lot more.
I now have things that were fashionable ten years ago, that I have kept and kept, and now they are back in again. The sheepskin bomber jacket, the healed brogues, the leather cloche hat and so on. I have a large amount of things that were my grandmothers, my mothers, and even my father’s first wife’s!
The key to keeping things worthwhile is keeping them immaculate. With my shoes, I ‘retire’ them before they are worn out, I get them regularly re-heeled, and re-soled, I clean them gently with warm water and a sponge, I keep the toes stuffed and I make sure they are wiped after each wear. I rotate my handbags regularly and store them in their dust bags with newspaper stuffing. I repair the really old stuff as often as possible, stitching, straps, buckles, buttons; I try and maintain things as well as I possibly can.
I’ve been known to go online to Goggle, “stitching antique leather” and purchasing old tools online in order to reupholster an old footstool authentically. Sound mad? I suppose I have a little bit of a passion for it, but learning to do these things for yourself makes looking for vintage and purchasing much more enjoyable knowing that you can look at things that are in less than perfect condition and restore them yourself.
Only keep things you love. Take no notice of what is fashionable right now, learn to look past the fashion, and see the true beauty in things. Whether it is an old chair, a tainted mirror, a shabby handbag or a quirky looking jewellery box.
Personally mixing vintage with new makes things look more unique, giving your wardrobe a touch of personality and stops you from looking like a sheep following the fashion magazines and the high street looks. Trust your instinct and even if that Thierry Mugler dress from 1993 might look very dated now, give it another 10 years and it will be a prize purchase that you will wear again with pride.
Whatever your style, few of us are completely unique, so look back through history, whether its decor, fashion, beauty, handbags or hairstyles, there will be someone who has done it beautifully before that will inspire you to find your own take on it.