If the glossy fashion mags and Sunday supplements are anything to go by, a mania for dressing in vintage or vintage-inspired clothing has swept the nation.
But what exactly constitutes ‘vintage’? After trawling through numerous websites and blogs devoted to the subject, the consensus seems to be that any item from the 1920s to the 1980s can be considered ‘vintage’. Anything pre-1920s is ‘antique’ and anything post-1980s is just plain ‘old’.
Obviously, there’s an awful lot of tat lurking out there in the markets and charity shops. However, one of the great things about bona fide vintage clothing is that it is often extremely well-made (bespoke, even), with exquisite detailing. That’s why celebs love to swan down the red carpet in vintage pieces—no one else will be wearing the exact same frock. As far as the high street is concerned, however, we live in a disposable age with pile ’em high, sell ’em cheap clothes prevailing. Can you imagine anyone coveting (or even tracking down) vintage ‘Primani’ in 50 years’ time?
I’m lucky enough to possess a smattering of genuinely vintage items, all gifted by my gran. One piece in particular stands out: a midnight blue Chinese silk jacket with a bird pattern that she had made while living the colonial life out in Malaya (now Malaysia). I reckon it hails from sometime between the late-1940s and mid-1950s. There’s a matching pencil skirt floating around somewhere.
I wore both to my 18th birthday party; it was the height of the New Romantics era and I looked absolutely amazing.