The country is awash with fabulous, funky, totally original vintage stores. Vintage Trig in Michael Street, Waterford, opened just 10 weeks ago and already the spunky owner, Agnes Stencel, is displaying a genius eye for sourcing great authentic buys.
I discovered her treasure trove quite by accident on a recent trip to Tramore races. The winner of the Littlewoods Best Dressed Lady wore a stunning 1950s gold and aqua dress. I was like a dog with a bone and tracked down the vendor,who kindly agreed to open up for me the following day so I could cast my beady, greedy little eye around.
All too often, vintage clothing gems come in tiny sizes and the fabric is patchy and frail, having suffered due to poor storage over the years.
Imagine my delight when my eyes zoned in on a wartime frock. But this was no ordinary 1940s creation, as the stub of the CC41 label revealed. There, in front of my eyes, was a rare commodity: a genuine CC41 dress perfectly intact, no rips, with its original buttons. And it was divinely wearable.
In 1941, the economic-minded British government introduced a Utility Clothing Scheme with a view to conserving fabric and keeping a lid on clothing prices. The clothes were stamped or labelled with the utility mark CC41, short for Civilian Clothing 1941.
To complete the look, I added red, 1940s slingbacks with snakeskin heels. It’s astonishing how flattering the covered-in shoe, with the long, narrow ‘throat’ at the front, is to the shape of the leg.
After finding a 1930’s purple and green lame dress at MacBees in Killarney, we set off for Ard na Sidhe manor house outside Killorglin, a newly restored historic home which dates back to 1913. The rich palette of Kerry sandstone and lush planting provided the perfect step-backin- time backdrop to photograph our elegant vintage finds, while the modern pieces from the high street took on a nostalgic glamour photographed beside Caragh lake and in Edwardian suite.
Aoife McBride runs Broken Down Doll, an online vintage business which organises pop-up shops where customers can linger over a cup of gin punch or a Dior dress, or both. Aoife's mother Mary set up MacBees in New Street, Killarney in 1984, and London-based Aoife supplies her with fine vintage gems.
Not everyone has the eye to spot good vintage, but panic not. The high street is full of great looks, especially Oasis, where we found a great tea dress, a wrap dress with sequinned hemline and — modern hit of the day — a swing coat with fauxfur collar, straight from a wartime movie.