Naomi Thompson, of Vintage Secret, has published a book with exactly these quandaries in mind. I'm always keen on a how-to guide, and when I heard that Naomi was writing the book I couldn't wait to order it - in fact, I pre-ordered off Amazon where it's just £5.89. How organised. Part of the 'Style Me Vintage' series, this book ('Clothes') is a detailed text covering more than just images and styles- it comprises of three useful sections:
- Getting Started: clear, no-nonsense advice about what eras are considered vintage and how to shop wisely, develop your own style and date items;
- The Looks: the main section of the book. A selection of key 'looks' from the 1920s-1980s;
- Useful Extras: those bits and pieces everyone wants to know but is too afraid to ask! Shapewear, getting into (and out of!) vintage items, mending and cleansing. There's also a fantastic set of links (where this humble blog is mentioned alongside people of far greater wit and wisdom!);
One major strength is the variety of approaches per decade- this makes the book enjoyable for those of us who know a bit already and want to wear something outside our usual decades of favour. For example, of all the decades I have always been wary of the 20s 'flapper' look- but with ideas such as loose and low Devore coats accessorised with Edwardian looks such as tortoiseshell combs, I feel far more confident finding a 1920s look to suit my figure. I am also really pleased to see the 1970s so well represented. It's a favourite decade of mine and there is so much more, well, good taste to the decade than most people appreciate. Naomi covers it all, from Yves St Laurent and Biba for work to the key looks for disco. I adore that the word 'glitter' gets its own bullet point in the evening look shopping list.
Without a doubt, as a thrifter and collector of vintage, I appreciate the third section thoroughly. I haven't yet read through all the links and tips, but know that they are of a trustworthy calibre, collated by the expert in her field. And the tips are exactly the kind of thing I want to know: how do I get lipstick off? What's the best fabric to patch tiny holes? Some tips are wonderful for a self-taught type like me, if only to reassure me that when I pop my 60s stuff in a pillowcase on a 30 degree wash, it is OK. It's that classic balance, apparent throughout the book, between utter glamour and sensible advice which I particularly value about the Useful Extras section.
If anything, my only disappointment with this book is that it's a short one (as it's part of a series). I do hope that it is a success and leads Naomi into publishing a yet more detailed book, as there are so many more items from her collection and stylish ideas I would love to read about. In the meantime, Vintage Secret's blog has regular updates and is a great site for fashion and vintage fans.
You can buy Style Me Vintage - Clothes from Amazon.