A Beginner’s Guide To Vintage Shopping
Vintage can be tricky to master. Lay it on too heavy and you risk resembling something a time-machine vomited out after an unfortunate spot of food poisoning, but ignore it completely and your wardrobe becomes duller than a bowl of Weetabix. Yes, I know, Weetabix is a lovely way to start the day, but wouldn’t you prefer to be like a stack of syrupy waffles with a side of bacon? No? Perhaps breakfast similes aren’t the way forward at this particular moment in time. Let’s hurry back to the point, starting with what you should wear when you embark on your secondhand shopping spree.
Popular vintage shopping areas tend to attract eccentrically dressed individuals. Next to them, your clothes will realize how average they truly are. If clothes have feelings (which has not yet been disproved) they may gain an inferiority complex. To avoid this, you should pin obscure things that you find in your kitchen onto your outfit before leaving the house. If your kitchen is as dull as your wardrobe, then fasten a coat hanger onto a headband to create a fascinator that lives up to its name. Finish the look with red lipstick. No, not for your lips, you big old conformist! Use it to write a Nietzsche quote across your forehead. “God is dead” is a good one, as it is short and to the point. This is will ensure that the owners of vintage shops take you seriously.
Now you look the part, it’s time to get shopping! Grab an obscure pile of stuff and head to the changing rooms. Once you’re there, the idea of trying on a dead person’s clothes might make you feel a bit uncomfortable. This feeling isn’t as irrational as you think. After all, it’s entirely possible that you might try something on that still has the previous owner’s spirit trapped inside, leading to a Freaky Friday kind of scenario. But, if we are to believe Hollywood, this would be nothing to worry about. You’d just have to endure several hilarious misunderstandings, which would eventually result in bagging a really attractive boyfriend.
Now I’ve calmed your nerves, it’s time to decide what you want to buy. If the whole ghost thing is still making you feel anxious, just go for a nice pair of shoes. Vintage shoes tend to be bargains, and, if you have small feet, you’ll be delighted by the wide variety. If you’re not quite ready for vintage shoes, (which I must say I find surprising, considering the coat-hanger on your head) then make your way to the jewelry section. Here you should pick out the heaviest, most obnoxious earrings you can find, which, with everyday wearage, should lead to Buddha-like earlobes. This enables you to emulate wisdom without shaving your head or shoving a pillow up your t-shirt.
Once you’ve mastered accessories, it’s time to buy some actual clothes. If you’re unsure of what to pick, try taking inspiration from the current trends. White is the official color for spring/summer (and don’t you start that ‘white isn’t a color’ crap) so consider investing in an ivory petticoat. In the good old days, when S and M stood for sausage and mash, petticoats were about as naughty as you could get in terms of underwear. But in this modern day, in which young girl’s bottoms hang proudly from their itty-bitty shorts, you’ll look positively virginal in your granny undergarments. If your petticoat is oversized in the bust, then consider wearing it with a pointy bra, a la Madonna in the 90s. I’d usually draw the line at second-hand knickers, but if you can find the kind that go down to your knees snap them up, as they can be very snug in the winter months.
If all this underwear talk isn’t floating your boat, then tap into the recent dressing-like-a-farmer trend. This can easily be done through charming tweeds and denim overalls. Finish the look off with a hand-crafted pipe.
Each era is very distinct in its mood, so go for one that best suits you. If you yearn for the times when leg hair was long and love was free, get down and dirty in florals from the 70s. If you hanker after a sexiness that doesn’t compromise your modesty, go for streamlined dresses from the 40s.
I’ve now taken you as far as I can. I’ve watched you go from wax on-wax off, to kitten heel on, kitten heel off. My bones are weary, but I can just about manage to squeeze out a final piece of advice. Do not get vintage stuff that just looks like it comes from the high street. This is the kind of thing that only a real imbecile would do, and nobody wants to be an imbecile. If you’re going to do retro, then do it properly. Now scamper off, you little hipster!
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Written by Phoebe Eccles