Gracey On: Vintage

I love vintage.  But not because I have any great nostalgia for bygone eras.  I mean, I love fifties and sixties style as much as the next gal, but let’s be honest; those were not great times to be a woman of color.  No, I don’t have a lot of love for those eras, but I still love the clothes, as well as clothes from the seventies and eighties, for several reasons.

One-of-a-Kind

Back in the day, they used to teach people how to sew more than a terrible, lumpy barely-recognizable-as-a-dog-shaped pillow in Home Economics.  Back in the day, they used to teach you how to sew clothes.  Therefore, there are a lot of literally one-of-a-kind vintage items to be had.  Especially at thrift stores.  Many vintage shops only carry labeled vintage, leaving the handmade, only-piece-in-existence pieces languishing on the thrift store rack.

Here are some of my favorite handmade vintage pieces that I’ve thrifted:

Fashion for Giants in handmade vintage coat, coatdress & jacket.From L to R: handmade coat, handmade coat dress & handmade jacket (came with matching skirt).

And, even when pieces are mass-produced vintage, they still feel like one-of-a-kind pieces because you probably won’t see them on anyone else.  And that is always good news because it means you won’t have to fight anyone for wearing the same dress.

 

Coverage/Bike-Ride-Ability

I tend to have a more modest style.  Sure, the occasional rebellious bra strap sneaks out every once in a while, but for the most part I tend to like my clothes with coverage.  It’s not that I don’t think that I’ve got it; I just don’t want to flaunt it to strangers as I ride to work.

And modern clothes can be a little skimpy for my tastes.  Maybe I’m getting old, but what passes for a dress nowadays is what I’d consider a shirt, or at most, a tunic.  And the shorts?  I’ve seen, hell, I own, underwear with more coverage.  And speaking of underwear, nothing is lined nowadays, forcing wearers into thong underwear (not great for bike riding) or a slip.  And stop with the spaghetti straps and racer backs and one-shoulder looks already!  Sometimes a girl just wants to wear a regular, comfortable, non-contortionist bra.

(Wow, that was a rant, wasn’t it?  I’m practicing for when I get older and assume my mantle as the most crotchety old person ever.  It’s going to be fabulous.)

But, I digress.  What I’m trying to say is that I like vintage because it general offers more coverage, and, for me, that’s a priority.

 

Quality

In general, vintage clothes are better made than most of today’s clothing.  Or at least the clothing you can get today for a comparable price.  A thrifted, vintage item that costs $7.99 is probably going to be higher quality than a fast-fashion piece that costs the same amount, or even three times as much.  I have had vintage pieces disintegrate on me from age, but I’ve never had one fall apart from poor construction.  Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for my fast fashion pieces; I’ve had more than a few fall apart after a few wears.

For my limited budget, I’d rather thrift quality vintage clothes for a few dollars than spend the same amount on something that won’t last.

 

Easy to Find

Happily, vintage clothes are fairly easy to get ahold of.  I’m not saying it’s easier than standard retail, but it is pretty darn easy.  Etsy, eBay, vintage stores and thrift stores all offer vintage items and often at reasonable prices.

And there is a huge variety out there.  My closet contains  vintage coats & furs, more vintage skirts than I need, vintage dresses, clutches, caftans & vintage jewelry.  And most of it is from thrift stores and local vintage stores.

Fashion for Giants in vintage skirt, blouse & blazer & vintage coat & necklace.Left: vintage skirt, blouse & jacket.  Right: vintage coat and necklace.

 

Left: Vintage men’s pants, vintage top & vintage necklaces.  Right: Vintage skirt and sweater.

 

Not sure how to tell if something is vintage or not?  I suggest you visit Sammy Davis Vintage; her blog is amazingly helpful in determining if something is vintage or if Hot Topic was just having a 70s moment.  And, if you’re not sure how to incorporate vintage into your modern wardrobe, Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb just recently did a great series of posts on the topic.

What about you, Lovely Reader Friends?  Are you fans of vintage?

xoxo,

Gracey

 

Already Pretty contributor Gracey hails from from Fashion for Giants. She’s essentially your average blogger, except that she’s taller than average (six foot) and bigger than average (size 14). She also likes to think that she’s more amusing than average, but that could just be vanity. In addition to being tall and plus-sized (and possibly hilarious), she’s also a thrift store shopper, a vintage lover, an Oregonian, and a bike commuter.

Likes: Gracey likes to shop, to blog, and to terrify her co-workers with brightly colored outfits.

Dislikes: Robot uprisings, too-short skirts, and leggings as pants.

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19 Responses to “Gracey On: Vintage”

  1. Sarah

    I am a new “already pretty” reader and I already love this site! I stumble upon it yesterday when someone of Facebook linked to your Repost of the “Body Image-boosting Quotes”, which by the way, I thought was a fabulous collection of quotes.

    I had to comment on this post by Gracey today and say how much I loved reading it! I really enjoyed your voice and writing style, Gracey. I love vintage but my wardrobe doesn’t reflect that yet. I spent most of my adult life so far dressing in cheap and practical clothing. But I am so tired of that and ready to let my true sense of fashion shine!

  2. Catherine

    I’m with you on the issue of quality — I’d much rather buy used clothing that’s made well than new pieces that seem shoddy or skimpy.

  3. Sheila

    Love this post! I’m a huge fan of vintage shopping, whether in a vintage store or in a thrift store. The quality is amazing. It’s rather sad when you find a handmade vintage silk dress for less than you’d pay for a top at Forever 21. Go thrift!

  4. mo

    Amen, sister! I lean toward champagne taste and have beer money, so when I see something in the thrift store with quality stitching, covered buttons, unusual tailoring, etc. I get all excited! I lucked onto an ebay store a few years ago (out of business now) that must’ve cleaned up at an estate sale of a woman with good taste and a lot of money. A few of her dresses grace my closet and were a steal. I get more compliments on those than some of the more modern pieces. Whew! Look at me go on. By the way, you’re fabulous and I agree with the dislike of leggings as pants.

  5. LinB

    I’m old enough that some items of clothing in my closet has simply aged itself into being vintage! Something that people forget about 70s clothing (because so much of it was constructed of nasty fabrics) is how good the fit was. Clothing was cut to accommodate bodies that had curves and heft. I still sew from lots of my 70s patterns because the shape and fit of the garments is wonderful. With modern fabrics and colors, no one would ever guess the era of the pattern from which I sewed up my blouses and slacks.

    • mo

      What a great idea! I see older patterns in thrift stores all the time and never think to look at them, but with more modern fabrics in mind they could be fantastic. Thanks for sharing this.

  6. Patti @ NotDeadYet Style

    Thanks for this, Gracey – well said! I like my vintage pieces for all these reasons, and I agree the quality is generally much better. Love all your cool vinty looks!

  7. Coleen

    For Gracey- Salve, fellow giant!

    I am also six feet tall and recently plus-sized. I also believe in thrifting most of my clothing, but I am struggling somewhat to find things that fit as a result of my length and breadth. Often times, vintage styles are made for vintage frames, and I’ve had trouble finding things that fit and don’t look too grandma.

    Do you have any sub-suggestions specifically for tall/plus women who want to wear vintage clothing?

    • Gracey the Giant

      Hello!

      One of the reasons I especially love handmade vintage is because you’re right; most vintage styles were made for vintage frames, but there were tall, plus-sized women back then too and they made a lot of their own clothes. Those are the items I look for.

      For just general advice on how to thrift as a giant, I have this post: http://fashionforgiants.blogspot.com/2012/07/shopping-for-giants-how-to-thrift.html

      Also, if you can sew at all, don’t be afraid to alter the stuff you find. Especially if you’re thrifting it. I’ve changed dresses to skirts, changed skirt and sleeve lengths and just generally hacked away at a lot of my finds.

      Hope this helps!

      Gracey

      • Coleen

        Thank you so much! That article on thrifting for giants is super helpful, especially the part about going for petite items. I would never have thought of that!

    • Shaye

      I’m not super tall, but I am plus size, and I’ll point out that even if you’re looking for “true” vintage (that is, pre-70s), there are more options for a larger body than you might think. I have well over a dozen dresses from 30s to 60s that I’ve acquired over a few years. You won’t find something that fits every time like you might if you were smaller, but it is out there to find.

      For an idea of what’s out there, search “dress XL” on Etsy and filter to vintage results. Most sellers post measurements, so it helps to know yours. The prices are higher on Etsy than in Oregon, but depending on where you’re located, may be comparable to what you’d find locally.

      • Coleen

        Good idea! I’ve been too shy to buy things off Etsy for fear that they might not fit. Then again I could always sell them back to my local consignment/vintage stores. Thanks for the tip!

  8. BamaCarol

    Gracey, thanks for this post. I want to start looking for more vintage items and know that it will take a while to figure out sizing since it seems they are so different now. I used to sew my clothing (out of need since it was so much less than buying) but it seems like there is not as much access to the nicer fashion fabrics as there used to be. You look great in this look!

  9. Anna

    As one of those who was taught to sew real clothes, back in the day, I admire vintage but cannot wear it. More than once I’ve heard it said that a woman looks silly when she wears vintage clothing from her own vintage years. Whether or not this is universally true, it’s true for me. But Gracey — and others — I’m so glad you appreciate quality construction and style. You look great!

    • Susan In Boston

      Anna, it’s true for me also. And, I find it odd that the things I threw out decades ago are now hip. I’m sewing my own clothes again, and the last thing I want to look like is my younger self. I just want some quality clothes that fit, which is the only definition of vintage that works for me.

  10. Heidi

    That red coat is killa! Vintage is one of my fashion blind spots; I really feel like I need to get better at it. (Or, you know, try to do it at all 🙂

  11. Shaye

    Hurrah for vintage! I wore one of my fave vintage dresses today, as a matter of fact.

    I admit I go for more of the “classic” vintage styles (so 40s-60s) which are hard to thrift. But even vintage-store prices, at least locally, are less than you’d pay for a comparable new garment. That said, I do love me some 80s rayon thrift store skirts, and thrifted 80s-does-50s styles can look great with a little alteration!

  12. Jennifer

    Cute! Loved your post. I have a new Vintage shop on Etsy, ServingUpFabulous, check it out! Cheers!