Like much of America I am totally in love with A&E’s Mad Men. The writing is sharp, the characters are captivating and above all the costuming is out of this world. As a lover of classic clothing this show is an absolute drool-fest for me. I’m pretty luck in that my mom and grandmother both held on to lots of their classic pieces, so I’m able to wear a number of vintage pieces passed down from the women in my family. There are, however lots of great opportunities to flesh out my retro inspired wardrobe right here in Columbia! Are you craving that vampy Joan Holloway look? Do you swoon over Betty Draper’s classic look? Or are you more in line with Peggy Olson’s prim working girl style? Here are some of my tricks to get that great retro look on the cheap.
You can easily take a classic black sheath and transform it from 1950s to 2000s with the addition of great accessories. Raid your grandmother’s costume jewelry and add a circle pen with a pair of peep toe wedges. Tie on a splashy graphic neck kerchief and you will be a blast from the past. I recently attended an art event at 701 Whaley and, feeling daring, wore an birdcage veil with a feathered hairpiece. My sister, costuming guru that she is whipped it up for me and I can’t WAIT to have another event to wear it*. Women in the Mad Men era embraced the power of simple accessories like gloves, hats, and scarves. Incorporating them into your wardrobe can really make you a standout in a sea of kaki. Do remember, however, that the idea is to be fashionable, not costumed, so unless you are planning on performing in a retro burlesque show, don’t overload. Hat OR gloves OR scarf, not all three.
Fall in love with Resale
Columbia has an absolute wealth of consignment shops loaded to the gills with quality products. In some of these stores however, there may be 100 less-than-ideal pieces for every OMG NO WAY find. Approach these stores with that in mind. It’s a hunt, not a shopping trip. If you keep that attitude, you can quickly become addicted to the thrill of the find. Also, don’t judge the resale shop by its exterior. I regularly peruse “Curious Closet” on St. Andrews Road (near Zorbas). They have a great selection of gently loved designer pieces beautifully presented and color-coded. Just this week I found an amazing vintage jacket (circa 1965) for less than ten dollars. As posh as “Curious Closet” is, another one of my personal favorites is “The Sunshine Store” on Two Notch Road. It looks like a total dive, but give it a chance. I have found some beautiful vintage things there most of them less than 5 bucks. Also, with Halloween right around the corner it’s a wonderful place to look for costume pieces.
Go For Quality
When looking at vintage or vintage style pieces don’t jump on the first retro peice you see. Some of the jackets and suits I’ve found in my hunting are beautiful but fragile. What’s the use of a great tweed suit if you can’t sit down in it? Look carefully for things like dry rotting, moth damage, or age stains. They can be the death of a vintage piece. If the piece is a modern take on a vintage style quality is the key. I’ve purchased some inexpensive vintage inspired pieces that disintegrated after one wash. Be sure you are allocating your fashion dollars to pieces that will last. You don’t really save money if your wardrobe is one-time-wear disposable.
Remember, Classics are Classics for A Reason
I can hear my mom saying this in my ear right now as I type. Her elegant wardrobe is fashionable today, but she just as easily could have stepped out of a 1960s. If you go for quality classic pieces, whether you pay $10.00 or $1,00.00, you can look like a million bucks.
Enjoy the holiday weekend Readers and check out those Labor Day Sales!
*If you are interested in beautiful retro hairpieces, keep your eyes open around town for pieces on consignment in various boutiques. If you have a custom request let me know and I’ll send you my sister’s way!