Shopping From Your Closet

Buying into the vintage craze? Well, there are ways you can join the craze without the buying part. Start by looking in your own closet. That's right, Ms. (or Mr.) I-Have-Nothing-To-Wear: you may have cool-again old clothes buried somewhere in your closet, in a suit case, in storage, or many cases, at your parents' house. Another source of vintage is your parents' closet. As hard as it may be to believe, your parents were young and hip once. They followed trends, some of which have been revived. However, in my opinion, trends come and go for a reason--some trends vanish more quickly than others because they were bad ideas in the first place. Hence, you may need some creativity to rework old pieces to give them a modern twist. You can see how these two principles operate in the following anecdote:

My roommate recently started wearing some cool clothes that I haven't seen her wear before; as it turns out, they used to be her mom's. That inspired me to dig for my old clothes at my parents' house. I wasn't at all fashionable back in the day, but there were a few key pieces that got lots of compliments on; those were the pieces I was looking for. I didn't have time to dig very deep, but I found a long black vest I haven't worn since high school. Vests are back nowadays, so I decided to take advantage of the situation. I was never into vests that much--just wore them because my mom said they looked good on me--and after I buttoned up the vest in the present day, I came to realize that I still don't like them. However, I found a way to rework it into a fitted long tunic using a brooch. Now, that's an outfit I approve of.

When you dig through your closet, you should perform a concomitant function: permanent purging. If you've rediscovered something you love right away, run with it--wash it, create new outfits with it, put it on a hanger for easy access. However, while some old clothes can be saved, others should go gently into the night. How do you tell when to give that old pair of pants the ax? Think about why you kept the piece hidden in the first place. Is it because you never liked it in the first place? Take a look at it now--if you still don't like it, chances are you never will. That should go into the donation bin. If things are really tattered, don't throw it into the trash just yet. If it's cotton (e.g., socks and shirts), save it--it's always good to have a bag of rags hanging around, especially for routine cleaning and plumbing disasters. Old t-shirts and pants are also great as prototypes for DIY projects (such as stenciling; I'll write about it sometime in the future). If there are interesting prints or appliques on clothes that are declared unwearable, you might also want to cut those out prior to disposal; they may be good for simple DIY projects in the future. If you're lukewarm about it, put it aside but in a visible place; if you put it back in the location from whence they came, they'll continue to be ignored and, worse yet, take up valuable space. Think about ways you can update the piece with layering and accessories, like the way I handled my vest, or maybe even a trip to your tailor. If you can rework an old piece to your liking, great; if not, it's time to let it go.

If you need help reworking old pieces, get some ideas from fashion magazines/websites/blogs. One of my favorites is StyleDiary. The editorial articles are great, but my favorite feature is the massive collection of personal fashion diaries posted by ordinary people, demonstrating how they wear their clothes to go about their everyday business. I'm always amazed by different styles from around the world. So many people got their clothes from thrift/vintage stores (or their moms, sisters, and friends) and whipped up incredibly stylish outfits. I even get inspired by outfits that I personally would never wear. Once you take a look, you'll understand why looking fashionable doesn't necessitate spending.


Stacie said...

I read your post about being lazy about dry cleaning. I am the same way. Have you ever tried one of those dryel kits? I bought one when they came out five years ago or so and never used it because our washer and dryer were in the basement. Now that we moved they are upstairs near us for easy access. I thought I would try some sweaters this weekend. You can use one bag over 20 times and buy replacement cloths as you need one for each use. Just wondering if you had tried since you have a lot of good advice.

Sales Rack Raider said...

Sorry Stacie, I've heard about the Dryel kits but never used it myself. Have you tried googling for other people's reviews?

BrownEyedGirl said...

I read your post and I was really glad to see you mention style diary. I'm a member (browneyedgirl)and I really love that website. Also I'd like to say love your blog!

pink said...

When the web seems fashioned out, I always go to StyleDiary. Seeing what other people are doing with their looks inevitably spawns a couple dozen more fashion-related sites for me to visit. Super procrastination tool. :)