Holly White road tests vintage Ireland
While fashion trends come and go, one thing that is always in style is vintage.
Vintage in Ireland is previously uncharted territory for me. I own a few wonderful pieces from markets in London and a shop called Annie's on Camden Passage. Finding a great vintage piece is wonderful because the chances are that no one else will have the same thing as you. I have a little silk 1920s camisole that I wear with jeans, some of my late granny's jewellery, and a handbag from my mum, who collects vintage bags and purses.
Wearing vintage is special. I can't think of a more beautiful dress than the one I wore to both my 21st and the Meteor Awards in 2007. It's a 1930s hand-embroidered silk slip in immaculate condition that my mum dyed a wonderful shade of blue.
Vintage-inspired clothing is also riding a wave of popularity at the moment and shops like Topshop are producing negligee dresses.
For vintage shoppers in Ireland, here are my tips to make the most of your time and money:
- Ignore sizes: Sizes are not consistent throughout every decade. You may have heard that size 16 Marilyn Monroe would be a 10 or 12 by today's standards. Since the sizes on labels of vintage clothes have no correlation to the sizes of today's clothing, it is important to try things on or measure them before buying.
- Dress in layers: Dressing in layers makes it easier and faster to try on clothing. Wearing leggings and a vest under whatever else you are wearing means you can try on clothes even if there is no fitting room. This comes in especially handy at flea markets and garage sales.
- Go large: Finding vintage clothes that fit you perfectly is not always possible, but if you find something you really like, it may not be a lost cause. Larger sizes can usually be tailored easily, but smaller sizes rarely have enough extra in the seams to make them bigger.
- Bring cash: Though many boutiques and vintage stores accept credit or debit cards, not all smaller stores do, so cash is your safest bet. You wouldn't want to lose an amazing find because you had to dash to the ATM.
- Haggle: When it comes to vintage shopping, bargaining is an option. Shopping around increases your chances of getting a better price. Charity stores are run for charity, so bargaining may not be appropriate, however most charity shops eventually have sales, so if you want an item at a lower price wait for one of those days.
- Be the early bird: At vintage fairs and flea markets, the old saying rings true so get there early if you want to bag the best pieces.
- Impulse shop: Vintage is one instance where impulse shopping is okay because every item is one of a kind and if you don't buy it on the spot, it may be gone later.
- Know your vintage: Acquaint yourself with the styles of different eras. Identifying an era is all in the detail. Embellished cardigans and dresses with side zippers are usually from the 1950s, while metallic centred dress zippers, polyester and synthetic materials are indicative of the 1960s. Meanwhile, garment care labels were not introduced until the 1970s.
- And finally, keep the most important shopping question in mind: will you wear it? Sometimes the history and rarity makes an item so fabulous you just have to have it, but if it doesn't match your style, it may end up sitting at the back of your wardrobe.