Vintage style comeback

Fashion fades, only style remains the same.” — Coco Chanel

Fashion trends are as fickle as Michigan’s four seasons — which is partly why I’m weary of women’s magazines that make me feel old, outdated, or uncool if I’m not wearing what they’re promoting.

IMG_2431But I love clothing and accessories, and have always appreciated beautifully crafted or unusual pieces, new and old.

For years I’ve haunted thrift shops in search of one-of-a-kind treasures to mix with my own wardrobe basics. What I enjoy most about vintage pieces is how they make an outfit totally personal — especially when combined with something new.

Among my favorites: a vintage Christian Dior tux jacket; a 1970s double-breasted blazer with huge tortoise-shell buttons; and a statement necklace refashioned from 1950s costume jewelry. I also own several vintage scarves, belts, and evening bags — always handy for jazzing up the ubiquitous little black dress. While some of my evening dresses from the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s are collectibles and not entirely suitable for wearing out, I wear most of my vintage clothing and jewelry.

If you’re as interested in this topic as I am, you’ll want to check out the the September 2013 issue of Traditional Home, which includes a fascinating piece on vintage couture and jewelry collectors. Detroit’s own Sandy Schreier, whose museum-quality clothing collection is respected by world-class curators and fashion designers, is featured in the article.

My own collection of isn’t nearly as chic or noteworthy, of course, but it brings me endless pleasure and often comes in handy when I work as a background extra in films.

Whether I’m shopping for a costume or my personal wardrobe, I carefully examine thrift-shop clothing for damage before I make a purchase. I’m not an accomplished seamstress, but I’m handy with minor repairs and stain removal — and always willing to change buttons. If a piece isn’t hand- or machine washable, that’s usually a deal-breaker for me, unless we’re talking about a couture piece offered at an exceptional price.

An added bonus: Some of the best thrift shops in my community support local charities, or are run by charitable organizations. It feels good to know that my purchases support others in need. Fashion is fleeting, after all, and I’m glad I don’t have to break the bank for it.