How Can I Dress in a Vintage Style Without Ruining It? - Liberty

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

How Can I Dress in a Vintage Style Without Ruining It?

 I just purchased a vintage silk chiffon dress by an Italian designer from the 1980s, complete with a matching belt and jacket. I want to wear the item, but I also want to maintain it looking beautiful. How can I continue without destroying it after a few uses? Is it possible to recover it? may the delicate fabric be kept dry so I may wear it more frequently? Abigail, from Alameda, California.

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Liberty-CNN, One of the main difficulties in the present debate about the benefits of vintage—condition, and wearability—is one that you have pointed out. It is all well and well for us to extol the virtues of keeping clothing in circulation, the importance of the future resale market, and how wonderful it is that Gen Z (or at least a percentage of them) seems to choose used clothing over new. All of that potential will, however, remain more theory than actuality if the resellable clothing is not also rewearable.

Because of this, it's important to understand that, while vintage shopping is a commendable and occasionally extremely satisfying activity, one that is rife with the promise of special and unexpected finds — the mystery of what might be unearthed! — it is better done with knowledge of what you are getting into and the commitment that may be required. Not to mention a somewhat different perspective on the precise item you are purchasing and its function in your life.

The more authentically "vintage" a clothing is, the older it is, the more delicate it is typically. Cameron Silver, the proprietor of Los Angeles' first vintage store Decades, responded when I asked him for advice, stating that "chiffon is a particularly fragile fabric, regardless of age." A little repair, he said, "can really help with the longevity of a silk dress." And, he said, such repair is justified if the clothing is intended to be worn rather than kept as a collectable.

Shopping for vintage items that are collectibles is a whole different experience with a distinct value proposition.

Mr. Silver advised first "gently reinforcing the seams of the dress by hand." If the item is made of leather, consider bringing it to a leather repair business to freshen up the details.

The proprietor of the Manhattan Vintage Show, Amy Abrams, advised locating a dry cleaner with experience cleaning bridal gowns. "They are experts in cleaning and repairing garments for maximum wear," she said.

The next step, according to Mr. Silver, is to think about "thoughtful undergarments such as a slip dress and a natural deodorant, since if you are a sweater, aside from Botox injections in your armpits, potential perspiration will be a major liability." Additionally, Ms. Abrams suggested a natural deodorant.

Next, consider where you will be wearing the dress. Choose "standing events and not dinner parties," Mr. Silver said. Or, you may wait till colder weather, as Ms. Abrams advised.

Finally, it is possible to view the wear-and-age-related flaws in a vintage garment—along with any mending or additions—not as flaws but rather as just another form of customization and personalization. These alterations would give the garment a longer backstory and would make it a true one-of-a-kind. Do you know what we also refer to as unique clothing made only for one person? Couture.

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