By Derek Blasberg
Admit it: There is nothing quite like the sensation of climbing into pure 1970s polyester after a long and lazy shower. Or the bliss of finding that old dress shirt or untouched suit in your father's closet that is just so...now. These are just a few of the joys of the vintage, a look and style that in the past few decades has become as acceptable (and encouraged!) as a sundress from Banana Republic or a Brooks Brother Suit.
Not surprising then that this year's recipient of the Council of Fashion Designers of America International Influence Award was the virtual catalyst of the modern retro movement—Kate Moss, long heralded as the heroine of vintage chic. Sure, it's fun wondering who else has worn those jeans or where these boots have walked in a past life, but for us non-Kate Moss mortals, it's not always easy.
That's why we turn to two New York shops, Amarcord, on East 7th Street, and Peggy Pardon, on the Lower East Side, and their lovely shop assistants for a little advice. Katie Hubbard at Amarcord, a vintage buyer since she was in high school, and Sasha Huetc from Peggy Pardon, who calls herself a "vintage couturier," offer Refinery29 readers their Five Points to vintage shopping.
1. CHOOSE YOUR ERA.
In the 1980s, if you didn't like blue eye shadow or look good in shoulder pads, well, you were screwed. The best thing about vintage is that with so many different decades to choose from, it's easy to find an era that fits. Thus, even though Hubbard cites the '70s as a hot decade right now and Huetc is watching Edwardian things fly out of her store, if prints or high collars don't work for you, try another period. Hubbard offers a rule of thumb for vintage rookies: "For slim and square, go '20s. For curvier girls, look to '40s and '50s."
Like that guy that treats his 1964 Ford Mustang like an actual member of the family, a dedicated vintage collector will be sure to take care of their pieces. "An avid shopper must have a good tailor," Hubbard advises, before warning of the dangers of dry cleaning certain fabrics and smoking in polyester.
3. THRIFT VS. VINTAGE.
There is a major difference between thrifting and vintage shopping. Whereas the former is typically a free-for-all of disorganized garments, vintage shops contain an edited collection of the same clothing, neatly cleaned, merchandised, and stylishly coordinated for the consumers' enjoyment. Be warned: Thrift stores are not for the easily bored. It takes patience and hard work, but as Huetc will attest, "Never underestimate a thrift store. Sometimes after a good hunt and when cleaned up, treasures can be unearthed."
4. VINTAGE, INCORPORATED.
"It's important to know how to mix vintage into your wardrobe," Hubbard advises. "So get what you like, what matches your style, then you can coordinate new-old pieces with things you already have." It can be tricky, Huetc warns, with the biggest pitfall being you wind up looking like a refugee from the circus. "It can be quite easy to look costume'y when people start over-accessorizing or taking a look or period too literally"
5. ACT NOW, OR FOREVER HOLD YOUR PEACE.
Huetc's last rule of thumb, regarding vintage hunting is an simple one: "Don't wait. If you like it, buy it." One of the best parts of vintage is that it's unique—see it once, you probably won't see it again. So, remember, if something looks good, it's a risk to leave without it. Hubbard's farewell rule is even stricter: "If you're new to vintage, or any style of clothing for that matter, you have to wear it the next day. Buy it today, figure out how it works that night, and wear it the next day." Make it work immediately, or be careful. "If you don't, it'll most likely become just another relic in the back of the closet." Destined, no doubt, to become someone else's treasure someday.
Two New York experts in vintage show us how all things old can look spankin' new (and ever appropriate) with just five crucial guidelines.