‘I’ve always liked things from a different era,’ says Funmi Odulate, author of Shopping for Vintage (Quadrille, £12.99). ‘Seventy-five per cent of my wardrobe is vintage, but people don’t always know it.’
In today’s world of disposable ‘fast fashion’, vintage clothing – from around 1920 up to the early 1980s – is a way of wearing a little piece of history. For the couturiers and designers of these eras, craftsmanship and attention to detail were vital. So for high-quality, beautiful clothes that won’t break the bank, vintage is the way to go.
Whether you’re a vintage virgin or an old hat at spotting flea-market finds, Funmi’s book is a handy accompaniment. It includes a minihistory detailing ‘Designers and their decades’ from the Roaring Twenties through the Swinging Sixties to the Aspirational Eighties. Her chapter on ‘The art of buying and collecting’ includes practical advice on how to distinguish – by a garment’s fabric, style, cut and stitching – between treasure and tat.
It also offers advice on how to navigate your way through the ‘organised chaos’ of most specialist vintage shops, as well as the etiquette (eg, is it acceptable to haggle?).
Vintage is everywhere. ‘If you wanted to, you could go to a car boot sale every day of the year, except Christmas,’ says Funmi. Less well known is the fact that auction houses Bonhams, Christie’s and Sotheby’s regularly hold auctions of vintage clothing collections. While these may have a reputation for being elitist, prices may be cheaper than buying from professional vintage dealers.
Included in the book’s ‘vintage directory’ are details of shops, fairs, flea markets, internet sites and other top places to shop for vintage.
Ecologist reader offer
Get Shopping for Vintage by Funmi Odulate for the special price of £10.99 (normally £12.99), with free p&p.
To order please call 01256 302699, quoting ref O67.
This article first appeared in the Ecologist June 2007