Yesterday we spoke about the pros of buying vintage and in the interest of fairness, today I’m sharing my con side. Please feel free to share your cons at the end of the post (there were some interesting comments on yesterday’s pro post.)
The Con List
Con – You can’t always find what you want. You might fancy a red dress to go with your new shoes or a Cornishware flour dredge to sit on your Welsh dresser but it could take months or even years before a red dress or flour dredger crops up in your regular vintage haunts. Vintage shopping is about keeping an open mind and whilst you might have ‘dream finds’ don’t be afraid to give new styles and colours a try. Con – Bargains are few and far between. Genuine vintage is hard to find since the craze was popularised. Prices have gone up, beautiful items snatched up by fashion houses and expensive boutiques.
1970’s cowboy shirt – £10 – Vintage shop
Con – If the item has been neglected (by either the original owner, someone inbetween or the seller) it may be unusable. If it is a fabric item it may have visible mould, stains or hole that are impossible to mend. Furniture wise it may have woodworm, cracks or rips that make using the item impractical. Con – You need to invest time in developing your eye. If you’ve ever typed the word ‘vintage’ in to an eBay search box you’ll find over half a million items pop up (and that is in UK listings alone) a huge chunk of these items are about as vintage as last season’s Man Utd foodball shirt but popping the word ‘vintage’ into a description seems to be the norm for eBayers when selling anything older than 6 months old.Vintage AA batteries from October 2010 anyone?
Vintage mirror – £5 – Vintage fair
Con – Signs of age can put some people off buying vintage clothing, textiles and home furnishings. To me the signs of age or minor wear and tear add charm but to people who are in search of a pristine look this is obviously off putting. It is rare that you will find a vintage item in original packaging and unused. It can happen but it is rare. I found some 1960’s pillow cases in their original packaging just last week. Con – The smell. You just have to deal with it. Many vintage, second hand and charity shops (especially in the UK) have a certain scent to them. Usually when you get an item home this can be rectified with a good wash or air but the smell can stop people from even crossing the threshold of a vintage store, charity shop or flea market.
Vintage hat – £10 – Lady, Behave!
Con – It can be very hard to find plus sized vintage clothing (or even clothes that will just cover up a cup size any bigger than a C) and when you do, prepare to fight! Bidding wars for plus sized vintage dresses on eBay can be very tightly fought. Con – You’re not getting a full picture of an era just by slipping your leg into a pair of well designed trousers as some might think. Vintage can be a very rose tinted look at an era, which is I suppose why we buy into it. As it tends to be the well designed/well made items that last, the clothes of the poorer people of that era tend not to be preserved.
This is fine for most people but social historians beware!
Con – A lot of vintage items are very delicate and can’t be cared for in the same way as modern day items. Some vintage clothes just won’t enjoy being bashed around in your washing machine. Hand washing can be a bit of a faff. I’m one of those rare people who actually enjoys stopping the world, stepping off and indulging in an hour or so of soothing lemon scented hand washing but I’m aware I’m a lunatic and I’m in a minority. Con – The funny looks from the public can be quite something. Just this past weekend (a hot weekend) I was walking through York wearing a vintage dress and protecting my pale skin with a vintage parasol, not only did people stop and stare but I was called by a bunch of teenage girl, (and I quote) “a friggin’ freak” for my style choices. (Ahem, losers.)