Nothing makes me feel more like a lady then a pretty vintage dress! I'm always being asked "Scarlette where do you get your clothes?"
Although I do have some reproduction in my closet, I truly prefer to wear and buy Vintage! I have a huge collection and adore each piece as they have a story. Someone loved it before me and I hope some one will love it after as well. Of course this creates a challenge as buying a vintage dress is not as easy as ordering your size and wearing it! Part of the thrill however is the hunt, I would say I spend 90% of my free time scouring the Internet and searching the racks at thrift stores. I also am a huge supporter of our local vintage clothing stores. The ladies that own these stores spend their days searching estate sales, thrifts and such to find beautiful vintage items to put in their stores. They take the time to clean them properly and sometimes mend any issues they may have. Those of you with less free time this is my suggestion!
Before you start your hunt, either on the Internet or even in stores here are some tips on buying vintage!
Know your measurements
It's very important to go by measurements when you're ordering vintage clothing as sizing is very different from the 40s to the 50s to 60s and even 70s as to what it is now. I currently wear a modern size 4 but in a vintage dress from the 40s or 50s I'm a 12 or of 14, yes that's right ladies its a huge difference!!
How to measure yourself
I suggest having a friend help as it is hard to get a true measurement on yourself!!
To get a true bust measurement, put on and unpadded bra that fits well. Measure from around the back of the bra strap across the top of your bust, where it sticks out the furthest from your body. This will give you an accurate measurement as to how much room you need in a blouse or dress in order to be comfortable. I always try to buy things that are an inch larger than my bust size so that I have room to move and so that it doesn't pull at the seams which can be unflattering.
Waist measurements are taken at the natural waist this is the smallest portion around your midsection usually right around or right above the belly button.
To get an accurate hip measurement for wiggle dress or a pair of pants you should measure around the hips and butt at the largest portion of your bottom. This is why the friend is handy! They tend to be truthful;)
It's also nice to know your upper arm measurements as well as your neck measurement for anything that has a button back closure.
There are several local vintage dealers here in the Central Florida area to shop, it's nice to be able to try things on and get an idea for sizing of certain labels. Keep in mind that quite a bit of the vintage you come across are homemade items, so there a lot of times there are no tags this is when your dressmakers measuring tape comes in handy! I carry one in my purse so that I can measure anything I might find in the thrift store or vintage shop before even putting it on. Saves frustration and disappointment in the dressing room, also vintage dresses are fragile, shop owners will appreciate you not trying to force something that's not going to fit on your body.
Ok you found it the holy grail of vintage for your closet! And it doesn't quit fit, making your heart sink. Don't give up hope!! Most vintage items are easy to adjust a bit. Taking up or letting out to hem is always an option on the item that's too long or too short. Provided there's not a side zipper taking in the waist can be fairly simple on a dress or skirt. Most vintage skirts that I come across are 22 to a 24 inch waist, way too small for my 28 inches. However if the skirt is full, long enough and the pattern is consistent or it's solid, I have been known to buy it, take the waistband off and replace with a new larger one. Those novelty print skirts are hard to come by with out spending a small fortune so if I score a little one at a thrift store, I figure out how to make it fit!!
For more involved alterations a good seamstress may be required!!
Adding a few special vintage items to your arsenal is fun, don't be afraid and enjoy the hunt!
A few of my favorite stores!
1231 A N Orange ave
Orlando FL 32804
Deja Vu Vintage
1210 Michigan Ave
Winter Park, Fl 32789
114 Beach St
Daytona Beach Fl 32114