Ah, vintage. So terribly fashionable and so terribly cheap (or at least cheaper). It makes you wonder why anyone does anything else.
It’s possible to find high quality, unique pieces for relatively little. When I was looking for a nice suit to wear to my sister’s wedding I managed to find a lovely vintage Daks tweed suit for a mere £75 and I’ve certainly got my money’s worth, regularly wearing the jacket and getting a few more wears as a suit.
Despite this, and the fact that our own wedding and my own outfit has been described as “vintage inspired” I have mixed feelings about it as an aesthetic. Firstly because maybe it’s a bit done, and also because it’s fairly easy to do it badly.
So what are the downsides? Well firstly there are no guarantees. If you’re looking for something specific, there’s a chance that it’s simply not out there. You need to be flexible and willing to take a chance on something when it comes along.
Quality can be extremely variable, but I suppose as it only has to get you through one day. The fit and cut of a suit can also vary a lot as fashions have changed over the years. You could find something that fits well, is beautifully made and in a fabric that you love but in a terribly dated cut which spoils everything. Now, to a certain extent taking it to a tailor can remedy this, but again this can be a bit of a gamble.
Also, it’s entirely possible and all too easy to overdo it, even for a vintage themed wedding. There’s a fine line between outfit and costume and it’s all too easy to cross.
A few guidelines though that might help:
- Does it fit properly? The better it fits, the better you’ll feel and the more natural you’ll look.
- Avoid dark suits with stripes unless you want to look like an extra from Bugsy Malone.
- Don’t include anything, particularly accessories, just because they’re vintage or because you think it’s cool. Every part of your outfit should work with the whole. You don’t want to end up looking like some sort of caricature. You may think that pocketwatch will look awesome, but it might just come across as if you’ve got a list of “things people wore in the 1920s” and are ticking them off. An outfit is complete not when there’s nothing else to add, but when there’s nothing that could be taken away.
- Hats. I don’t know why, but people just don’t seem to be able to carry them off the way they used to. Maybe I’m just jealous because I can never find one big enough to fit my enormous head. I’ll try not to be too negative, so I’ll say there’s every chance it can work for you, but if you do go for it, please try to observe basic hat etiquette.
So where can you find these marvellous vintage pieces? There are a few specialist places you can look. Old Hat in Fulham is one of my very favourite shops where I got that tweed suit I mentioned earlier. There’s also Tweedman’s Vintage and Savvy Row whose website are chockfull of things for me to covet.
Apart from that there’s Ebay (though there’s the usual caveats about fakes and maximising your chances of it actually fitting properly) and charity shops, though they’re very much a long shot. Finally, it may well be that someone’s father or grandfather has something suitable. Obviously it’s more likely that they have a pair of cufflinks or something that you might wear, which would be quite sweet, but it may be that there’s something a bit more. Once when visiting my parents they were clearing stuff out and came across a dinner jacket that belonged to my father which somehow fits me despite me being a good 3 inches taller. So these things can pop up.