The last couple of years have seen an upsurge in the popularity of vintage fashion in Ireland. The retro look has reclaimed its spot in the trendy charts thanks to a celeb following including (but not limited to ) Alexa Chung and the Olsen twins. But we need to clarify something here. Just because it is old or second hand, does not make it vintage. In a lot of ways it’s an abused term. Whether it is clothing or jewellery, we are unofficially allowed to bestow the term on pieces which are of high quality and are covetable i.e., I own several vintage scarves which I have been collecting over many years from Hermés, Chanel and Gucci (pictured, Gucci scarf from my collection ). And no they are not for sale.
The rule book
There are a couple of things to look out for when shopping for vintage that I have gathered along the way. Firstly, check the seams. I believe the seams and stitching can tell a lot about a piece and its history, such as how well/not well it was cared for. And the same rule applies to all fabric, particularly leather. Leather jackets are a vintage shop favourite and most often this is where the highest quality fabrics can be found. Most vintage leather from my experience has a worn look anyway and will tend to have some imperfections but run your hands along the hardest wearing parts of the leather, on a jacket those are the sleeves, cuffs and collar and check for any scuffing or marks. If you are making an investment or buying something of a higher value, these are good quality check points. And that is just for clothing. Accessories are slightly trickier.
It ain’t about the
Yep Jessie J got it right. Vintage jewellery falls into two categories in my eyes. Number one - Antiques operate in a whole world of their own and if you are thinking of splurging, it is best to get some professional advice on the quality of the stones and metal, if it is something precious you are looking for. The second category and the most popular is costume jewellery. The stones and metal are of a lower quality which dictates a lower price but this is the way to go for everyday wear if you like to make regular purchases. I am a bit of a magpie and my eyes gravitate to all things sparkly so costume pieces are my thing. Last summer I picked up some gorgeous rings and earrings from Shutterbug in Kilkenny, a street style vintage shop which has seen phenomenal success recently (www.shutterbug.ie ). Owner Blanaid Hennessy has a great eye for vintage and a visit to the Patrick Street shop is a must.
But if you are not the rummaging type and like to stick to the high street, inspiration from the past can be seen everywhere. Lace made a huge comeback this season and will stick around for another one. It is a fabric that is feminine and fresh, and one thing I look for with lace is a “little bit of give”. Lace can be inflexible and risks not sitting in the right places, so check for some stretch for added comfort in skirts and dresses especially (Lace Dress, Heatons, €28 ). Another cute trend is gloves. These can always be found in vintage shops, but brands like Accessorize tend to always keep gloves in stock; they make a nice addition to a wedding outfit or match up with your cosy winter coat for an extra level of chic (pictured, my vintage white leather gloves from Dirty Fabulous, Dublin ).
For the fans of online shopping, take a look at www.vintageclothing.ie which stocks everything from accessories to wedding dresse. You can also pop into its shop, Enchanted Vintage Clothing in Galway city. Also check out Kwilla in Kilkenny for retro (and contemporary ) inspired pieces and Turquoise Flamingo in Cork.
Lorna Claire Weightman
— Twitter: @styleisleIRL