The Hunt for the Vintage Gem

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There is nothing like going out for a tasty breakfast and then making your way into a local vintage shop to search for the perfect vintage dress or that special piece of jewelry that lights you up when you put it on.

In the fashion world, things change quickly.

But in my world, there is one thing that will never change, like a fine-aged wine, my love for a piece made with style and class, the vintage find. Like a true treasure, it comes out for the most special occasions and makes you feel amazing when you see it, hold it or wear it. When finding something special that is vintage, I find delight in knowing that beyond feeling classy and sophisticated, I am also less likely to see someone else wearing the exact same thing. Vintage fashion is the forefront of fashion, the key to independence in your style and may even dictate what is coming next in popular trends. Yes, vintage is trendy!

Vintage is clothing, jewelry, housewares and furniture, generally made before 1980. Anything post 1980 is retro, and anything older than 100 years, is considered antique. So vintage is then the items made between 1920 and 1980. If you like this period of style, then you, like me, are into vintage. My love began in highschool, when I raided my grandmother’s closet for a prom dress and found a full length 1930’s red dress that made me feel like the lady in “The Lady in Red” song (by Chris deBurgh). After wearing this stylish piece that no one else was rocking, I was hooked. 

Wearing vintage can transport you to another time, a different era in fashion.

I imagine my grandma wearing the red dress she bought before she was married and going out on the town with her lady friends. And she had incredible style! I wish I could go back in time to save her whole closet! Fashion has changed, and yet it is remarkable to find items that have stood the test of time. Wearing vintage is not only cool, it is also eco-friendly as you are supporting the re-wearing of clothing instead of buying the quick to pass trends. If you find a vintage piece that is not quite how you like it, you can play with altering, or by adding your current favorites along with the vintage. I do not play by the rules of fashion and believe in mixing color, pattern, style, season and time period as a refreshing and rebellious way to play with your personal expression. Are you a misfit, rebel or troublemaker? Good, push that envelope! All rules are illusions, smash the ones that do not serve you or limit your expression. Change the world with that light that shines from within you. Wear it and ROCK IT!

Now, not all vintage will be your cup of tea, and that is fine.

I tend to like items made in the 1960’s and 1970’s best. I think of a one piece denim jumpsuit. That’s so hot! But, I do also love a sweet 1950’s dress too. I have a tradition of wearing a 50’s style dress and going out for mother’s day brunch with my kids. In my mind, wearing 1950’s dresses just say, “you are a great mom”! 

Finding your personal vintage style is a fun process,

and yet, it is in the shopping itself where the real adventure lies to find those hidden gems that light you up. Combing and searching the racks of your favorite thrift store, flea market, vintage shop, estate sale, online store or garage sale to find those special, vintage treasures is nothing short of thrilling!  Liberating that piece from its old life and into yours is truly the most exciting part! But, shopping for vintage pieces is not always so easy and straightforward. There are specifics to choosing that perfect piece that you know you will really wear and use is key. When vintage shopping there are a number of important factors to consider. 

Buy vintage items after asking yourself a few questions:

-Does it fit or can you alter it easily? If you can’t breathe or sit down, this piece is not going to serve you well. If it’s too big, it could still be a go-ahead with some sewing involved. 

-Will you wear the piece or will it stay hanging in your closet? Never, ever buy something because the person who works there or anyone who sees you wearing it says you should. It’s about how you feel wearing it, and trust that. And buy things that you know you will wear and stand the test of time, (like a vintage flower skirt or hawaiian shirt, that will never go out of style)

-Is it priced fairly? (based on the garment’s era, material, trend, quality, availability, designer and season). 

-Is it vintage? Check the tag (yes, vintage should have a tag) and learn more here: https://vintagefashionguild.org/

-Check the fabric, do you like it? Will it make you itch, sweat or feel uncomfortable? Or maybe you are willing to itch a little for an amazing piece!

-Is the item broken, torn, eaten by moths, stained or missing buttons/ zippers? Unless you are a magician, some repairs will not be possible.

-Does it please your senses? Does it smell good and feel good?

– Are you going to keep it? If you are looking to sell it, make sure you can actually make a profit on it.

– Will the fabric require special attention? Fabrics like wool, silk, satin, tweed and cashmere, will require special attention. Buy these fine fabrics if you will care for them, because they are worth their value. 

-One last piece to consider is that vintage pieces have been used and worn before. There may be energy on the piece and you need to feel into that if you can clear the garment or not. 

I didn’t tap into other vintage shopping, but have you ever gone on a hunt for vintage records? There are so many gems out there to be found and no doubt, you will savor them forever. I remember finding the soundtrack record from the movie “The Graduate” and giggling like a schoolgirl with delight. It features music by Simon and Garfunkel.  We are time travelers on a mission to find the items that bring us back in time to a memory that touches us. Sometimes there is also a joy in discovering an item loved by your parents or grandparents and finding it for the first time for yourself. My grandma partied listening to Benny Goodman. I found myself making dinner one night and playing the Best of Benny Goodman and dancing alone with a memory of my grandma and how she loved to put on his records and teach us dance moves from her day. I switched to play the clarinet in 6th grade, likely because when this man’s record played, it soothed my soul and made my feet tap to the beat. 

My other grandma collected vintage jewelry and she would let me try things on in her mirror. I fell in love with her 1960-70’s Avon owl necklaces, which I still treasure and have gifted them to close friends as I inherited some of her collection. They went big with jewelry at this time and at the same time, made very delicate pieces, if you have ever stepped into a vintage jewelry store, the engagement rings are the most elegant and desirable rings I have ever laid my eyes on.  

My wish is that you find your delight in the process of finding your vintage gems. Like an exciting hunt for a rare treasure, the delight is in the process and then to fully claim it as yours and share it and wear it. Find those pieces that make you feel authentically you! May they light you up to shine your inner beauty and joy!!

Keesha Bowers

Keesha Bowers is a sustainable interior designer, space clearer and organizer.
She loves to design interiors, interior decor, feng shui, color therapy and space organization.
She is an enthusiastic and energetic person who loves to help her clients by helping them create an inspiring home or work space that reflects their highest goals. She lives in Nevada County , loves to cook, dance, be in nature, and is a loving mother to two children.
Keesha is a community connector and loves to share her endless radiant light with those she meets.

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