My idea of vintage: A flea market steal of embroidered sixties iconography, a perfectly preserved era defining design instantaneously transforming me into a unique Biba-esque beacon of supreme style and effortless cool.
My reality of vintage: An overpriced, retina scarring paisley print polyester marquee masquerading as an apparently desirable dress that smells of damp and wee.
I tried with vintage, I really did, but I struggled to find anything that was either genuine (yes the Primark t-shirt may be old but sweat stains don’t mean vintage) or didn’t smell like the inside of a mouldy old cupboard. When I did find the real thing, it was so darn expensive I couldn’t justify spending three figures on cheesecloth. My ache remained strong when I kept hearing the immortal “oh! This? It’s VINTAGE” gloats from the nudge nudge wink wink, weknowsomethingyoudon’t brigade. They’d found their havens, little nooks and crannies of chic authenticity and they weren’t telling. So imagine my surprise, joy and sheer punch-the-air satisfaction when I stumbled across Vintage Vixen.
I was wary of course, my previous experience of vintage stores hadn’t been the best but when a dash of leopard print, a smattering of ladylike leather bags and flow of printed maxi skirt caught my eye, I couldn’t resist. Immediately I was transported to an era of authentic attire, original outfits and genuine garments. I nervously looked at the price tags, a cotton shirt that wasn’t three figures? A pretty printed dress that didn’t make me or my purse wince? A re-worked patterned shirt that I had to have that wasn’t so pricey I prickled? The pieces were real and the prices were reasonable. I’d come home.
I could easily harp on about my exceptionally cute red and black day dress or my adorable hot air balloon print skirt or my pretty sleeveless shirt with little people on it or… You get the idea. My wardrobe has benefited from many a Vintage Vixen gem, I love, wear and receive compliments on them all. So when the store put on a fashion show with live music, DJ, canapés and wine, my friends and I were there with bells on. And that’s where it happened. I saw it, it saw me and my heart skipped a beat. As part of the Vintage Vixen Premier Hire Collection (oh yes) a genuine 1950’s prom dress sashayed in front of me, its net underskirt winking at me and it’s pretty blue flowers dancing in front of my eyes. I wanted it and I’m pretty sure it wanted me. Within a few days I was swirling around the shop cooing at its prettiness. I have quite a small waist (made to look all the smaller by a rather substantial hip) so when the sash hugged the curves I want and the skirt boomfed hiding the ones I don’t, it was ideal. It fit perfectly and was just what I was looking for for a friend’s wedding. Could I? Could I? Yes, yes I could, I could hire the beauty for the day.
Dry cleaned, on a silk hanger, little organza bag of lavender and wrapped in a protective cover, the dress waited for me. I picked it up, paid the hire fee and practically actually skipped home. The day of the wedding arrived and wearing such a ladylike, beautiful and classic dress was honestly as exciting as seeing the I do’s. On such a special day, being able to wear such a gorgeous design was wonderful. There was no worry about turning up in the same outfit as another guest, everyone complimented the dress, even boys and a full skirt is pretty darn impressive when spinning on the dance floor.
At the end of an amazing day, I zipped the actually-too-beautiful-for-words dress back into its cover and hung it up ready to return to the stunning Narnia of the Vintage Vixen wardrobe. It’s even bigger than mine and after all of the wonders I’ve been blessed enough to wear from there, I go to it almost as much!