… I was in my early 20s, recently graduated, navigating the brave new world of work, and generally trying to work out who I thought I was. Fashion was, as it had been since a relatively early age, my main form of expression, and the vast majority of my disposable income went on clothes. First jobs, though, are of course not normally the best paid. I paid my way through Uni with bar jobs and found myself still in that industry once I’d finished my degree. I stepped up to management pretty quickly, but hospitality isn’t exactly known as the most lucrative of careers, and it wasn’t easy to feed my desire for new, lust worthy garments on my meagre salary. At the time ‘pirate chic’ was a thing and I was absolutely desperate to own the must have of the moment – a pair of black suede OTK boots. The pair I really wanted from Topshop just didn’t come in under my budget, so I had to seek out other ways of owning my dream boots. Enter eBay… I didn’t intend to buy a vintage pair. At the time I suspect I was hoping for knock offs, because second hand shopping wasn’t really the done thing back then, but after a few weeks of searching, I found them. Pointed toe, lace up back, low block heel – they were absolutely perfect, and just over a tenner! I wore them until they quite literally fell apart and thus began a bit of an obsession. The boots never failed to draw compliments (and insults too to be fair – I’ll never forget the snarky guy on the tube who asked if I was off fishing for the day – not everyone was ready for ‘pirate chic.’…) and I got a real kick out of knowing that I was the only person that had them. So the vintage shopping continued. I bought more vintage boots. vintage dresses. A couple of vintage skirts. Vintage handbags started turning up on my doorstep on a fairly regular basis. I liked nothing more than a Saturday morning rummage at the flea market at The Custard Factory and even traveled to other UK cities to visit vintage fairs. For quite some time I felt very much like vintage clothes were a key part of my identity.
When I made the move into the corporate world in my mid twenties my style shifted. I still loved the vintage look and liked having a style that was my own, but these days I favoured repro. Now having a reason to smarten up, I had discovered a love for 50s glamour, and while I never quite had the guts to go all out pin up, nipped in waists and full skirts were my chosen look. By now fast fashion was very much a thing, and though I’m ashamed to admit it, it was just all too easy to fall in love with new exciting things rather than trawl charity shops or eBay for my next hit. That’s not to say the thrifting stopped – second hand bargains were still the main way I managed to fund my addiction (and it really was an addiction by this point) – but now we also has Primark, H&M, New Look & the like churning out new collections every week at a price point I could afford to consume, and consume I did. By the bucket load. Shopping has always been an emotional crux for me, and it was here that my wardrobe really started to sprawl (not to mention my shoe collection!) Things change though, and when I got pregnant my style took another turn. I was heavily into Instagram by now and fallen under the spell of the floaty midi. That aside, those nipped in waists just weren’t an option once my bump became more prominent, and so the vintage look slowly seemed to phase out.
Fast forward to today! Filled with guilt over the environmental impact of fast fashion I had already started to move back towards second hand shopping, intensifying once the pandemic happened and I became more aware of the shocking practices rife in the industry. As eBay once again became my go to place for a fashion fix (yes, although I have rid myself of the shackles of fast fashion, I’m yet to tackle my never ending urge to consume NEW THINGS on the regular, unfortunately…) I found myself more and more drawn to yesteryear and the lure of a dress no-one else on Instagram has, and before I knew it, vintage clothing was firmly back on my wish list. Which is basically all a really long winded way of saying…. LOOK AT MY NEW VINTAGE SKIRT!!!
Floaty midi skirts are a pretty regular feature of my wardrobe as regular readers will know, but it was the print that really drew me to this beauty. I loved everything about it – the folky pattern, the bold colour combination, the subtle metallic thread running through it – it was just stunning. But it also was a touch on the small size. Labelled a size 10, I knew there was a good chance this wouldn’t fit as vintage sizes run smaller than today’s, but I was just so besotted I decided to give it a shot. Well, I’m a little out of practice and buying vintage online is always a bit of a gamble, but I should really have listened to my gut instincts because it is indeed too small. As I suspected may be the case, there is no give in the waistband, and while I’m still carrying some extra weight around my mum tum, I can’t quite do the top button up. It was pretty gutting, let me tell you. I had a brainwave though – I looped an hair elastic around the button to extend the waistband, and voila! With a wide belt over the top you can’t tell the difference! So the skirt lives to see another day! I’m not sure whether I’ll keep it forever (it’s comfy enough, and of course I may lose the baby weight, but the constant reminder that I’m too big for it doesn’t do my fragile ego too much good) but it has inspired me to write up a guide on vintage shopping for those who are interested! So, watch this space!