10 May 2010

Recommended Reading

The Little Guide to Vintage Shopping: Insider Tips, Helpful Hints, Hip Shops by Melody Fortier
Melody Fortier is proprietor of Tangerine Boutique, a vintage clothing emporium located in Gardner, MA, as well as online at tangerineboutique.com (taken from book cover).

This book is aimed to educate and guide consumers about the process of buying vintage and how to get the most (and best) for your money. It is meant to be an "on the go" reference that you can carry with you in your handbag while shopping (brilliant!).

It begins with an introduction to vintage and what the author believes to be the difference between "vintage" "retro" and "antique."

"Vintage is not just about age. It has evolved to become a fashion term. It is about essence and style. There is a lot of clothing on the secondary market that is more than two decades old but that I do not include in my personal definition of vintage fashion...be they old or not so old, vintage fashions are about styles that are pioneering, classic, or iconic as well as reflective of their era. And although their day may have come and gone, there is renewed interest in wearing them. That, for me, qualifies them as vintage."

She then goes on to define the different levels of vintage fashion available in the marketplace and their characteristics, which is what most dealers use to price merchandise. Clothing categories and their attributes are also examined and are divided into coats, dresses, separates, and lingerie. The various arenas where vintage can be purchased are also outlined (such as flea markets, shops, shows, and online) and what to expect from each.

There is a brief but detailed synopsis of the different fashion periods in the last two centuries, describing major trends and silhouettes (she even includes a silhouette diagram for easy comparison while shopping).

I found Chapter 4 - The Dating Game the most helpful and informative. This is where the author details the features dealers examine to determine a garment's date and value. Covered are: silhouettes, tags, buttons, zippers, general construction (sub categories seams and linings), and fabrics (with a list and description of the most common synthetics). Also included is a chart for DIY fabric content tests.

Other chapters of the book cover sizing considerations for different eras and how to take your own measurements and those of the garment; labels and pricing (with a general retail pricing guide); determining the garment condition and how to care for it; accessories and embellishments; and how to alter your own finds into something new. At the very end is a small listing of vintage shops but it is mostly limited to major cities in the US, so while it is a good starting point it is not incredibly helpful.

The book is peppered with expert tips on subjects ranging from Finding the Perfect Vintage Dress to Craftsmanship of Vintage Shoes, and also tips from the author about testing for various button plastics, cleaning, and step-by-step spot removal.

I think this is a great book for anyone interested in vintage shopping, especially if you are a beginner and want to get good quality and value but aren't sure what demands the higher prices and when you should pay it. I have already noticed how differently I shop after reading this..things will pop out at me that I normally would have looked over and I have a much better understanding of comparing price and quality (it also has given me confidence while shopping and more bargaining leverage). It is the perfect size to put in my bag so now I always carry it with me while out shopping in case I stumble upon something amazing!

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