The Excitement Of The Hunt For Vintage Women’s Clothing
As a child, visiting my grandparents in East Sussex, one of the highlights of the weekend would be when my grandmother would whisper in my ear “there’s a jumble sale on in the village hall later”. We would set off, five and ten pence pieces aplenty in our pockets, filled with excitement and the anticipation of what treasures we might find, buried underneath the piles of other people’s cast-offs. The village hall would be a seething mass of people, pushing and jostling to get to the front of the long trestle tables, loaded with crumpled clothes, the odd shoe poking out here and there. My grandmother was quite the expert and one tiny corner of fabric would be triumphantly pulled out to reveal an almost brand new men’s shirt, perhaps. We would return home exultantly, bags bulging and then would begin the ceremony of displaying our ‘finds’ to the rest of the family, almost as if we had returned from the hunt with our ‘kill’.
My grandmother’s needs were more governed by the necessity of saving a few bob, back in the seventies, when I was a young girl, there were no thoughts of designer labels or of discovering a priceless limited edition handbag in those days. Vintage was not a word bandied about on people’s lips and had not then acquired the kudos that it holds today.
Needless to say, an upbringing as described above was to influence how I felt about secondhand clothes and ensured that I associated them with a feeling of excitement rather than disdain.
Jumping forward thirty or forty years and village jumble sales are almost non-existent but charity shops are doing a roaring trade. Secondhand clothes rebranded as vintage clothing have become highly fashionable and sought after. Large bags are left outside charity shops, bulging with goodies to be revealed to the world within the next day or so, after they have been sorted out by the volunteers. Any vintage aficionado worth their salt will have to visit regularly to make sure that they do not miss out on the day’s finds. This could be the very day that a 1960s vintage kaftan makes its appearance, swinging jauntily in the window, just waiting to be discovered by someone ‘in the know’.
It’s easy to understand why it makes us feel so good when we do ‘get lucky’ and find ourselves holding an actual original vintage piece. It’s not just about the label, it’s also about the quality. Clothes were often made to highly exacting standards in the thirties to the fifties, particularly. Methods such as silk linings and double stitching ensured that a garment would quite likely last well beyond its owner’s lifetime. This, coupled with the rarity factor, makes a ‘vintage find’ something to be celebrated.
These days vintage women’s clothing is almost a style trend in its own right, often favoured by celebrities who want to stand out from the crowd. It’s a style, though, that’s available to every one of us, we don’t have to be rich to wear vintage.
We are fortunate to be able to conduct our search for vintage women’s clothing online, as well as in shops in the high streets. We can rummage ‘virtually’ and still experience the thrill of coming across an item that we just have a feeling about – and then one day it happens – that slight increase in our heartbeat, our temperature rising a little, butterflies in our stomach. That wonderful feeling of excitement grows within us as we realise that we’ve found it! Now to just check the label…