She wears it well

This post started with a bit of pondering over the issue why dress in vintage?

A couple of weeks ago I read a post by The Bright Young Twins asking people’s opinions on why vintage has become so popular. The post itself is great and what is interesting is all the different responses that came back – ranging from choosing vintage because of body shape – to the wasteful nature of society today – to the way in which women want to be perceived and how this has changed. I encourage you to take a look – its fascinating reading.

Bright Young Twins, Aimee & Harriet

Ironically while flicking through one of my 1996 Vogue’s, when the vintage revival was just becoming a major trend, I spotted an article, written by  Lisa Armstrong, asking the same question.

I was 21 at the time and I think my reasons for wearing vintage have changed little to this day and perhaps those arguments still formulate my thinking.

I don’t wear vintage for a love of nostalgia, although there is an element I like about what kind of life the previous person had.

I like the idea that the clothing lived in an era long gone – but I don’t have any desire to go back in time. As Aimee points out in her post ” Do I think that it was a better era to live in? NO! Rationing? Air raids? The constricting social roles of women with 72 hours (1950s average) of house work? My feet are firmly in 2012″. Ditto.

Nor do I feel more ladylike in vintage clothing or ashamedly wear vintage for ethical reasons.

So what is it?

Firstly let’s look at some of my favourite eclectic dressers:

Anouck Lepere, Helena Christensen, Margherita Missoni, Carolina Herrera Jnr, Milla Jovovich, Vanessa Paradis, Eva Fontanelli, vintage , eclectic dressing

Inspirational aren’t they?

……And I’m sure Carrie Bradshaw (Patricia Field) has had some influence along the way. I didn’t always like her outfits but they sure packed a punch.

Carrie Bradshaw vintage fashion

But here I bow to Vogue, who argues the point rather well – take it away Lisa…….

“Every time a picture of a woman in pink or raspberry or jade or lilac or any other colour that can be described as bilge, sludge or slime appears in a magazine my heart leaps. Whenever a piece of clothing that isn’t pared down, austere and so synthetic that a medium warm radiator would ignite it arrives in the office, euphoria sets in.

Ironically, at the precise moment when the technological boffins locked away in their laboratories have perfected he ultimate in mad-made fibres, the mood turns and along comes a new designer like Matthew Williamson (remember this is 1996!) who finds a rapturous audience for ravishing hand-embroidered clothes that look 50 years old. Williamson loathes anything that looks mass-produced, “It’s important the clothes look handmade – that’s what gives them character”, he says, and you can see his point. Rubber may be modern, but applique, broderie anglaise and grosgrain are so much prettier.

Perhaps that’s why the women stealing the show at parties now, aren’t the ones in their clever, streamlined, dawn to dusk trousersuits, but the ones who’ve done something unexpected with Gucci platforms – like partnering them with Forties, Fifties, Sixties and even Seventies cocktail dresses in glowing pastels. The girls who stand out on the streets are the ones who have slipped their severe Helmut Lang jumpers over Thirties petticoats, paired perhaps with a mesh bag, or thrown a beaded, sixties style cardigan or a jumble sale peasant top over their Joseph hipsters.

“What I love is mixing all sorts of periods” says Iris Palmer. “That way you never look exactly the same as everyone else. You need to throw in some new stuff. No one should be able to tell quite where you got any of it from”.

Wearing strategic old pieces is stylish. Electic. Edgy. Knowing…….

Mark Steinberg of Steinberg and Tolkein agrees: “There isn’t a major designer who hasn’t bought from us – Dolce and Gabbana, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Karl Lagerfeld, Yves St Laurent, Galliano, Jil Sander, Anna Sui, Miuccia Prada – and I don’t see anything at all wrong with it. …….The fact that all kinds of women are responding to period pieces shows that we’ve finally broken with uniform status dressing..but in an elegant, intelligent way.”

And for me, that’s what it is, a unique way of dressing. And hey, who’s to argue with elegant, intelligent dressing?

It’s not necessarily the fact that the clothes are vintage, which makes them special, it’s the fact that they are one of a kind – and you can use them as a “tool of self-expression” (as so eloquently put by one of the BYT respondents).

Finally how could we possibly end without a few pics from the lady who spearheaded the 1996 resurgence – where do you start and where do you end with Miss Moss?

In fact, she’s been rather quiet with her vintage lately – come on Kate!

Kate Moss, Vintage

I would love to hear your favourites – in fact I think I am going to set up a new board on Pinterest called Electic Dressers – so I would love to add to it. Let me know your thoughts…..


  1. Brilliant post on vintage and eclectic dressing! I agree with alot of the eclectic dressers you picked out. In particular I’ve always been really interested by Kate Moss’s style. Her wedding dress though was definitely a piece to behold (John Galliano, but vintage styley). One of my all time favoruties though is Tina Chow a few years back i think the fashion institute in new York held an exhibition with loads of her vintage couture pieces in it. She was well known for wearing designers such as Schiaparelli and Fortuny : )

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