Vintage Advantage

Valued as a timeless classic, shunned for being passé, or embraced as a tribute to the classic styles of yesteryear, vintage is always a talking point. Contemporary and street fashion houses from Fred Perry and Chanel to Adidas and Dior have hemmed up collections based on styles from generations past. Whether inspired by factory shirt-dresses in the 50s, short skirted pieces from the swinging 60s or the English Mod squads from the 70s, the vintage look continues to shape today’s style. But what is authentically vintage? And how can one tell between vintage and vintage-inspired?
The Age of Vintage
Fashion trends have always been reflective of the prevailing economic, social and political climate. The Great Depression in the 20s and then World War II in the early and mid 40s gave birth to loose draped dresses and the likes of bulky overcoats (how depressing). After the war, fashion was given a boost with advances in engineering and the women’s liberation movement. In came petticoats from the likes of Marks and Spencer; Dior’s H-line; and pinafore dresses. And who can forget the revolutionary 70s and 80s where music and popular culture led to infinite sub-genres of fashion? From the disco fever of tight shimmering shirts, bellbottom pants and shoulder padded jackets; to the rock and rolling hippies’ loose floral shirts and baggy pants; and ultimately punk’s anti-fashion, of leather jackets, torn T-shirts and steel-toed boots.
Learn how to maintain your vintage threads

The Real McCoy
Finding authentic vintage wear from any of these eras, however, is not all that easy as there are quite a number of rip-off vintage brands which refashion old designs and sell them off as real vintage clothes to the uninitiated. “Price is probably not a very good indicator of the age or authenticity of a vintage garment, unless you’re talking about a piece that has been worn by someone famous or a dress that is iconic in itself,” says the manager (who prefers to remain anonymous) of new vintage store By My Old School which imports vintage fashion and homeware from Japan. “Most true vintage T-shirts, for example, are made with cotton, unlike the polyester ones you tend to find. The good quality cotton remains strong and durable and is extremely comfortable, too, as cotton becomes softer over time,” she adds. Lovie Wong from retail store Dulcetfig, which stocks limited quantities of vintage dresses and accessories handpicked from around the world, agrees. “Things to look out for in a truly authentic vintage piece are its metal zippers; lined dress, skirt and blouse; original tags or engraving; style, cut, stitching and fabric that fits past eras,” she says.
Get your vintage gear at these places
Never bought vintage before? Here are some tips

Why Buy Vintage
The appeal of vintage undoubtedly has something to do with transcending time; with standing out from evolving trends. “Women were a lot dressier in the past, and took a lot of pride in their performance,” explains Kelly Yeo from the notable retail store Déjà vu Vintage, which stocks vintage dresses and accessories. “These days, people are looking for something different from what everyone else is wearing and vintage garments are one-of-a-kind pieces that no one else has—a way to show off one’s own personality,” she elaborates. Lovie agrees, “People today want to stand out, and what better way than to dress up. With vintage pieces, you’re sure to be the only one with that outfit or accessory.” Our friend at By My Old School sums up why everyone should buy into the trend: “Vintage clothes are not meant to be costumes. A whole new generation is discovering the beauty of vintage clothes; not just their style but also for their substance.”

  • Hand wash cotton garments gently. Dry clean if more delicate.
  • Air-dry after wash to prevent color fading.
  • Store the garments on a thick hanger in a dry cupboard.
  • Wipe handbags and accessories with a slightly damp cloth, air it and store in zip bloc bags.
  • Use leather cleaners for leather goods for longer shell-life.
  • Keep all items away from direct sunlight and humidity. [TOP]

Where To Buy
By My Old School
#01-169F, Blk 16 Normanton Park, 9879-2088. Open Tue-Fri (appointment only), Sat noon-8pm.
Déjà Vu Vintage
#01-70 Millenia Walk, 9 Raffles Blvd., 6338-8013. Open daily 11am-9pm.
41 Haji Lane, 6396-5648. Open Mon-Sat 1-9pm, Sun 2-8pm.
Granny’s Day Out
#03-25 Peninsula Shopping Centre,
3 Coleman St., 6336-9774. Open Mon-Sat 1-8:30pm, Sun 1:30-6:30pm.
Loft & Public
16A Haji Lane, 6297-0169. Open Sun-Thu 1-8pm, Fri-Sat 1-9pm.
Soon Lee
#03-08 Orchard Cineleisure, 8 Grange Rd, 6836-8201. Open Mon-Thu noon-10pm, Fri-Sat noon-12am, Sun noon-10pm. [TOP]
Never bought vintage before? Here are some tips to make sure that you are on top of your game.

  1. One size does not fit all. Try on your vintage picks before you make a purchase.
  2. High-end couture gowns were worn probably only once or twice, so they should be clean enough. Check for pulled threads, especially on embroidery, and stains.
  3. If you buy secondhand casual wear, hand wash or dry clean before wearing—it might have been marinating in mold or dust for decades.
  4. If you’re hardcore, check whether there’s historical value in a piece. Some garments are collectable, such as rare designs or even those with a fault that makes the item unique.
  5. And since some items are collectables, there may be monetary value attached. Make a knowledgeable investment in your purchase if you are looking to profit from it.[TOP]