Here are the most common myths about vintage clothes that I hear as a vintage dealer:
1. I don’t want to wear pre-owned clothes.
Why not? That is what laundry detergent and dry cleaners are for. Wouldn’t you rather wear something that is sustainable and environmentally friendly than something that took massive amounts of oil to produce and ship to you? There is no stigma in wearing pre-owned clothes. Also, when was the last time you borrowed a garment from your sister/friend/mother? That item was also pre-owned.
2. I need to have a 24 inch waist to wear vintage. Women were smaller in the past. I cant fit into vintage.
Women have always been made in a variety of shapes and sizes. Vintage clothing was often created to fit a specific individual so each garment is a different size. You need to measure and try on to find your proper fit. Also, I am a modern size 14 and can find clothes in my size. Oh yes, I just published that number. Don’t believe me? There are plenty of examples all over the web of women in vintage in different shapes and sizes.
3. Vintage isn't stylish/trendy.
While vintage may not be “trendy,” vintage is timeless. Many designers shop vintage stores in hopes of finding inspiration for their new designs. Ralph Lauren is famous for this. Don’t believe me, ask any bricks and mortar vintage clothing store owner – many have design teams coming through on a regular basis.
4. Vintage won’t last. Vintage is delicate.
Vintage clothes are quality made. They have already lasted at least 20 years, if not longer. Many items were sewn by hand and were made in a time where women didn’t perceive clothing as disposable. Women would often only have a handful of dresses for all occasions and made repairs/alterations for fit when needed. The need for alterations was considered when each garment was manufactured, often leaving room in the seams to let out or take the garment in as needed. Today clothes are mass produced with cost as the number one consideration. Remember that really cute Target blouse you picked off the sale rack? How many washes did it last? While some vintage may be more delicate than other pieces, learn how to properly care for your clothes and handwash/dry-clean whenever appropriate. Some modern clothes also need these treatments. Refer to this handy guide for cleaning directions.
5. Vintage is full of moth holes/stains.
Make sure to check over garments prior to purchasing for holes/stains; however, you should also be aware that any reputable vintage dealer has already looked over a garment before it ever hits the sales floor. There are also some simple fixes for patching holes/removing stains. Ask your vintage seller their opinions and for recommendations for local seamstresses if needed.
6. Vintage clothes are full of bedbugs.
This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Most reputable vintage stores clean and steam clothes before putting them on the sales floor/online. Steam kills off any chance of bugs. Also, most do not accept returns which further minimizes the risk.
7. Vintage needs to be flawless in order to buy it.
Even modern garments have flaws. If you wait for flawless, you will not find much for your wardrobe. Every vintage garment has a story to tell. And think of all the new stories you will create while wearing it. So it has a small hole in the pocket? Patch it. Raise or lower hems depending on your style. Many garments can be altered to fit you and be given a new life.
8. Vintage comes from old ladies who wore too much perfume.
Vintage clothing comes from all types of women. Perhaps the item you are holding was worn on a first date? To a wedding? For a baby shower? Or perhaps it was a church dress. All vintage has a story but not all vintage was worn in the later years of life. Do you really think your grandma is still wearing that 1950s ball gown from her debutante ball? It was probably preserved and stored for memories.
9. Vintage is too expensive.
As with modern clothes, vintage comes at different price points, but make sure to compare apples to apples. What is the quality of the piece? Is it a designer vintage piece? Compare it to modern designer pieces. Often the vintage item will be half the cost of a modern designer piece. Is the vintage item a homemade item? If so, compare it to a mall store? You are probably looking at a similar price point but knowing that your vintage item was handmade for a specific woman for a special purpose, rather than made in an assembly line in China.
10. I don't want to look like I am wearing a costume.
Vintage can be incorporated into any sort of wardrobe. I am a strong proponent of mixing and matching vintage and modern to create your own unique look. For inspiration on how to style vintage without looking like you are wearing a costume you should:
Dress around one dramatic piece
Mix vintage with modern
Separate matching pieces to get two new looks
Use a tailor to update old styles
Choose shapes that fit your body
To keep a modern look, mix vintage from different eras
Accessorize with Bold Statement Pieces
Most importantly, Own Your Look! Confidence is sexy.