What seems like many moons ago, I started my first company, Charm Ecole (a collection of vintage couture). Of course at 25 I wasn’t so sure as to how to do this. But, I was determined to teach myself along the way and failures became great lessons that I would use and implement in my future projects. Blessed to have the opportunity to study at amazing schools like Istituto Marangoni, FIDM, and Parsons, I had a pretty extensive knowledge of designers, past and present. Having such knowledge and understanding fabrics and draping helped me navigate through endless Estate Sales, Goodwills, Benefit Shops; you name it, I searched for designer, vintage pieces there.
I am still frequently asked how I find these coveted pieces and while patience is a large part of it, there are a few tips and tricks when it comes to shopping for vintage:
1. Know Your “Vintage Size”: Throughout the years, we have seen sizing change; essentially making us women feel like we’ve grown and sizes haven’t gotten smaller. A vintage size 10 can easily fit a size 6 in today’s sizing. Also don’t forget that anything can be altered so check for seam allowance if the piece is too small.
2. Do A Detailed Inspection: This to me is obvious, but it is imperative to look at your piece specifically looking for stains and holes that can not be fixed. There is nothing worst than coming home with something you can not wear.
3. Know Labels To Look For: If you don’t know too many past designers, I suggest giving yourself a quick history lessons. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve purchased a vintage Correges for example, not in my size, but to sell on eBay for a pretty nice profit.
4. Check The Label: If you are specifically looking for designer pieces, check the label to make sure the label has not been resewn on. For bags, every designer bag will have some sort of ID number.
5. Know your Era: Once you have found your pieces and are looking for ways to style them, try not to wear too many pieces from the same era. Unless you intend on looking like you are stepping out of a movie set. Mixing and matching of eras will actually give you an updated, current look. I found this white 1920’s slip at a vintage show in San Francisco. I love using vintage slips as a cover up during the summer. Belted and accessorized with bohemian jewelry, I paired my dress with a vest from the 70’s giving me an updated festival look for a day at the beach yesterday. Of course today, the fog is back. I am hoping for warm weather in Sausalito the next couple days for my shoot with Klozet.