Style Maven

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Going Vintage

There’s never been a better time to raid your grandmother’s closet. Vintage clothing is enjoying a growing surge in popularity thanks to trendy Hollywood stars like Sienna Miller, Sarah Jessica Parker and the queen of vintage chic, Kate Moss, crediting their distinctive style to the clothing from eras gone by. Actresses who regularly stroll the red carpet in striking vintage gowns by Dior, Galliano or Halston fill the glamour quotient for anyone who doubts the revival of retro. Though many would cringe at the very thought of sifting through rack after rack of old, musty clothing that can sometimes remind you of the Bride of Frankenstein, the payoff is worth it to fashionable women in the know. There is nothing more thrilling to a dedicated shopper than having an hour of what seems to be pointless rummaging turn into your closet-addition of the month (or year!).

Even high street shops like the trendsetting Topshop and Selfridges know a good thing when they see it and devote entire sections to original vintage pieces from the 1960s and 70s. If personal style is a reflection of personality and mood, there is no better way to express yourself than mixing unique vintage clothing and your mother’s worn leather clutch with a denim pencil skirt from the Gap or Mango. A flip through recent editions of Vogue, Elle, and Harper’s Bazaar turn up fashion spreads featuring clothes that look suspiciously like they just time-warped from the 1940s-1980s. Form fitting dresses with wide belts, platform heels, flirty crochet and Victorian lace blouses, oversized sunglasses and circle skirts splash the pages while trendy clothing manufacturers mass-produce them at a dizzying rate.

Quicker than you can say ‘polka dot puffball top’, hundreds of identical garments hit the streets and it’s highly likely that you will see your fashion twin as you casually stroll down the street. There lies the appeal of vintage clothing. It’s more than just garments, purses or shoes - a vintage piece can take your look from simply pleasing to imaginative, stylish and a whole new level of chic.
This may all sound very fun and adventurous in theory but the reality of vintage shopping can be daunting for beginners. Luckily, there are a few tried and true rules to live by when you decide to make your way down to the local shops. Patience is a valued attribute for any determined shopper but prepare to perfect this quality when browsing for your vintage outfits. Don’t give up if you can’t find anything after a full day of trotting all over town in your round-toe pumps. It takes a bit of time to find your own style among the oft-times dizzying array of one-of-a-kind pieces when you’re used to the shiny, eye-catching displays of the high street boutiques. Once you get into your own shopping groove, you’ll be able to spot fabulous deals with just a cursory touch and glance.

Be adventurous in trying different vintage shops and take your time to really rifle through the racks. Learn how to spot a good deal by recognizing quality by noticing details like lining, buttons, seams and fabric. Take your time and revel in the shopping experience that’s more akin to treasure hunting than making a contribution to the retail economy. Don’t go overboard with too many vintage pieces at the same time. One too many whimsical pieces and you end up looking like an extra from the musical Grease.

The key is mixing and matching with modern pieces for your own eclectic style.
From high end Chanel suits to quirky attire that stands out in a crowd, there is no shortage of vintage shops in London to suit even the most discerning and seasoned shopaholic. You will quickly find that the thrill of the hunt and the offbeat, funky style personality you create will even surpass the money-saving benefits of going vintage.

Annie’s Vintage Clothes 12 Camden Passage, N1 8ED 020 7359 0796 Tube: Angel

Palette London 21 Canonbury Lane, N1 2AS Islington 020 7288 7428 Tube: Highbury and Islington

Rokit 225 Camden High Street, NW1 7BU 020 7267 3046 Tube: Camden Town

Pop Boutique 6 Monmouth Street, WC2H 9HB 020 7497 5262 Tube: Covent Garden Bang Bang 21 Goodge Street, W1T 2PJ 020 7631 4191 Tube: Goodge Street

8 Golborne Road, W10 5NW 020 8962 0089 Tube: Ladbroke Grove

One of a Kind 253 Portobello Road 020 7589 2233 Tube: Notting Hill Gate Portobello Road Market Tube: Notting Hill Gate Fridays and Saturdays

Steinberg & Tolkien
193 King’s Road Chelsea 020 7376 3660 Tube: South Kensington

Beyond Retro 110-112 Cheshire Street, E2 6EJ 020 7613 3636 Tube: Liverpool Street

Absolute Vintage
15 Hanbury Street, E1 6QR Spitalfields 020 7247 3883 Tube: Aldgate East/Liverpool Street 801 Words