Creating true personal style means incorporating vintage pieces into your wardrobe. The vintage advantage? All it takes is a sharp eye like Austin-based vintage expert and retailer Masha Poloskova who shares her secrets on how you can make collecting vintage clothing into a way of life.
As a buyer and owner of boutiques carrying high-end vintage, I often am asked, “Why wear vintage?” My response is always a resounding, “Because there is magic in each piece.” Every article of clothing or accessory tells a story and has its own unique history. Dressing in vintage clothing is a way to connect us with the past and also gives us a chance to redefine and breathe new life into a garment.
If you already wear vintage, you will certainly never arrive at a party dressed in the same outfit as another guest. It also ensures that an overly envious friend cannot rush out and purchase your fabulous frock. In my experience, the women who wear vintage are as varied as the styles themselves, but there is one common thread between them: they view their personal style as an art form.
My personal closet contains, what I would consider, three types of vintage pieces: wearables, rescues and collectibles. Wearables are items that immediately work in my wardrobe and need little to no tailoring. When you try on a piece of clothing that fits, it is practically begging to be worn. Then there are times when shopping that I find myself on a rescue mission. Not long ago, I came across a tattered ‘20s flapper dress with an amazing beaded embellishment and my instinct was to save it from deteriorating on the hanger. Lastly, there are some items in my closet that are too precious to wear, like my delicate, silk, 1930s floral dresses or my collectible designer pieces such as my ‘70s bell-sleeve Pucci gown. They are works of art with impeccable construction and I take great pride in archiving and displaying them in my closet. Whether it is a wearable, rescue or collectible, I select clothing because a certain detail, fabric, or cut speaks to me. Vintage is personal. It is special. One-of-a-kind.
Shopping for vintage to add to your wardrobe is akin to collecting antiques for your home. Look for pieces with immediate draw. If you fall in love with an item, then you know it’s worth considering. And, if you are new to vintage, there are a few things to keep in mind. Look for cuts that flatter your body. Just as you would when shopping for contemporary pieces, go for designs that work for your shape. Try it on. The size on the label may not always reflect modern sizing charts. Consider details and fabrication. High-quality, collectible labels like YSL, Chanel, Halston, and Alaïa will stand the test of time. For inspiration, a wonderful resource to peruse an enormous collection of vintage is 1stdibs.com. The website features curated pieces from hundreds of vendors across the country and you can search by designer. It’s like shopping in a fashion history museum.
While it may be unexpected, vintage is also a great way to incorporate current trends into your wardrobe. Nearly all fashion trends are reinvented from decades past. Previous good design inevitably influences the forthcoming seasons. Take for instance the crop top that has popped up everywhere this past year. The crop top was popularized in the 1980s and was a trend that carried on, into the 1990s. Historically paired with low-rise jeans or flouncy skirts, designers have modernized the look by using fresh colors, prints and fabrications like hairpin lace or neoprene, and paired crop tops with high-waisted trousers or pencil skirts. Finding innovative ways to wear a classic vintage piece is one reason I will always love being a part of this industry.
The exceptional thing about vintage is that there is a finite amount of clothing from any given decade. Fortunately, with every decade that passes, we will be given another era of vintage fashion. With time, fashion forgets and what’s old is new again.