When is Vintage .... Vintage?

Posted by Cherie
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All photos by Erin Leydon.


One of the things that I think surprises people the most about me, is that I don't exclusively wear vintage all of the time. In fact, during the day when I am working in the studio, I am actually very low key. After all, why would I put my beautiful vintage pieces through all that wear & tear and stress of sitting all day in front of a computer, doing photo shoots, or sorting clothing in the shop racks or archives? That being said, if I pop out for a working lunch, or when I head out for an event, or for a date with my husband or friends, I certainly do wear vintage almost exclusively. But I still do occasionally like to wear something new just to mix it up. The way that I look at it, even pieces of clothing that were just produced within the last few years, are really just the vintage of the future anyway. This line of thought from a vintage dealer does surprise people, but even though this is what I do for a living I am still, after all, a girl that loves great clothes and if I find something that suits me ...well, it's coming home with me, vintage or new. Of course I am, and always will be, completely and utterly biased towards vintage but a great closet needs to be a mix of new and old.

I tell clients all the time that they should mix and match new with vintage, and if I am going to tell people that bit of wisdom, then don't I need to follow my own advice? Just like the girl who wears only new (boring), the girl that wears only vintage can be kind of boring as well. Why? Because I just don't believe that vintage should be boxed into and thought of as this special occasion only, exclusive thing once it is a part of your closet. I guess a better way of putting it is that you should not treat it as too "precious" in terms of styling it. It should be something that is worked into your wardrobe and mixed with other pieces, like any other really fabulous item in your closet. The only "preciousness" you should associate with your vintage it is how you take care of it before, during and after you wear it. Not how often you do, or how you mix it with the rest of your clothes. Definitely wear it with the respect and care it deserves (especially if it is very rare or fragile) but don't save vintage for only special occasions either. And even if you are a vintage addict like I am; even if you are completely biased towards vintage; even if you can't imagine life without it and think most new stuff is horrid; still don't be afraid to try the occasional new designer out because some of it is good. I swear. Because as soon as you cut yourself off of either vintage or new, your style will suffer for it.

In other words, too much of anything is boring. Within the "rules" of calling something vintage, remember that a girl with great style knows just when to break the rules, when to ignore them and when to make them her own.

This little knit Balmain dress is from a couple of seasons ago and I happened upon it quite by accident and decided to buy it for my "future-vintage" archives. The boots are new as well - Isabel Marant actually -  and I was drawn to them because they were so very, very eighties. As is the dress. And together they are an eighties party waiting to happen.

This super tight fitted look, is something that the seventies loving girl in me finds a little out of her comfort zone, but what the hell, life is short and clothes are meant to have fun in. This feels fun and sexy. That eighties vibe still makes it feel like it has that vintage feel, which makes it maybe not so far out of my wheelhouse after all.

I get asked a lot about when something is old enough to be called vintage and if I was a rule kind of girl I would tell you that it has to be somewhere between 20 and 25 years old at its "youngest" and up to 100 at the other end. Over 100 years and it's an antique and under 20 and it is whatever myriad of words you want to use - retro, resell, second hand, etc etc. However, things are changing so fast and furious on that front that I have seen pieces from just a few seasons ago referred to as vintage lately. You may draw your own opinion on that one. I know there are lots of people that don't really care about a firm and fast rule and that there are some that care maybe a little too much. For me, it is not so much about how old things are, it's the impact of them, whether visually or historically. A great dress, is a great dress, is a great dress. It is timeless no matter the season or how old it is in actual years. It's about line and cut and drape. Historically speaking, a dress that was part of a marketing campaign, or that reflects a specific moment in a designer's career, or a moment that defines a change in fashion history is important and may be as valid a collectible whether it was just recently made or made in 1910. You may have a piece of vintage with the best possible vintage designer label in it and it can be both awful and worthless. Or you can happen to come across a garment just out in the shops and designed by someone unknown, and you just know instinctively that it will be a collectible piece of vintage one day in the future. That's where the fun and excitement of the game lies in doing what I do. That risk of prediction and having an eye and ability to find the pieces that girls will love time after time, year after year, no matter how many decades go by. 

P.S. Sad but true footnote - If you follow my Instagram, where I often post in my stories more personal things from my life, you know that we have had a succession of Great Danes in our life. One of our current fur babies name is Max and he just turned one year old. Never once in his young life has he eaten or destroyed anything around the house of any real value. These gorgeous little red boots I am wearing? His first real victim of the last vestiges of puppy hood. I left these out in the hall after these photos were taken and for some unknown reason he decided they looked pretty yum. Totally destroyed beyond all hope. Sigh.


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