1.22.2014

Confessions of a former vintage addict {pt.1}

 photo 2_zpsc6071932.jpg

As you may have noticed I don't wear vintage the way I used to. It's still prevalent in my wardrobe but in a more modern way. This is due to a number of reasons, of course style evolves and lifestyles change, but a piece of it I'm sure a lot of you can relate to is vintage burnout.

I've been collection vintage clothing and accessories for all of my adolescent/adult life, be it shopping for it, accepting it as gifts, or saving things from the base of a rag pile or costume rack.You get into a state of mind that you have to rescue vintage, you need to take it home and wash it, repair it, love it. This leads to what many vintage girls eventually do: Sell online. As a side job or full time gig, you sell vintage to buy vintage. It's just how it is.

The problem with years of this is you become a hoarder of sorts, any spare space (or not, you kind of just live with it everywhere) is stuffed with needs-to-be-repaired/needs-to-go-to-the-dry-cleaner/unfixable-but-you-can't-possibly-throw-it-away-because-maybe-you'll-eventually-find-someone-who-wants-to-make-a-pattern-out-of-it-or-display-it-in-a-museum-of-damaged-but-beautiful-vintage...

This is real people.

It's everywhere. You have things you can't let go of because you remember the time you bought it, or someone's great grandma gave it to you, or it's super cute but too small//big so you just like to hang it on the wall and gaze at it as you slowly wake up on Sunday mornings.

So I've heard.

You wear about 30% of your wardrobe on a regular basis. Actually, make that 20%. It would be 30% but each week a button pops, a seam splits, or a hem drops, and you really mean to fix it right away but you're busy so you'll get it later, and hey maybe you'll take a Saturday and do nothing but watch movies and seriously tackle repairs all day. The pile is a bit out of control.

Shopping does not mean you just look for something specific or something for your day to day life. It means that sequin 50s leotard would be perfect for a circus themed party you're bound to be invited to at some point, and yeah those 40s heels are half a size too small but they go perfectly with that sundress you got last month to wear a garden wedding (nevermind that none of your friends are in committed relationships. Maybe someone's cats will get married.)

For me, it just became too much. It weighed me down, my creativity diminished and pieces that deserved to shine became muddled in the chaos. It was a gradual process of letting go. Incentives made it easier (I sold a lot of dresses to buy my custom made boots, and don't regret it a bit). I got rid of:

-Never worn
-Never going to wear again
-Didn't fit
-Irrepairable
-Too lazy to repair
-Would be appreciated more by someone else
-I love but it doesn't make me feel good
-I hate

Now don't get me wrong, I still have some special pieces of vintage that don't live in my closet, but I'm constantly letting go of more, and it's not a problem. It actually feels pretty great. My home feels less cluttered and my wardrobe more appealing. I'm building on a more specific style, and it's fun to see shops and people loving what was once mine. That's kind of the great thing about vintage is that it has more than one life, and I like being a part of that. But not the end of it.

49 comments:

Sara Clarke said...

Thank you for this. Much needed inspiration to weed out the too small/too big (but oh so lovely) pieces in my closet. I try to think of them as 'someone else's treasure' to ease their passing.

Lisa said...

OH. MY. GOD. It's like you read my mind! Every SINGLE thing you said in this post I agree with or can empathize with-- the feeling of "rescuing" vintage from the wild, the popping seams/buttons/zippers of something that is about forty years past its projected lifespan, the "so WHAT if I have 25 vintage nightgowns and only wear pajamas to bed, it's MY LIFE, they weren't expensive!". I, too, have been trying to let go of more to ENJOY the less that I will eventually have as the absolute best of the bunch, because you're a person wearing clothes, not a textile museum, not an archivist. It kills me to let go, but I'm working on it. I think it's healthier! So kudos to you and thanks for this post, it's great encouragement for us out here still trying to pare down! :D

hedgefairy said...

I know that "rescue it, take it home, protect it, love it" feeling, not from old clothes, but from old books. I used to live across a second hand bookshop that had sales now and then and have brough home kilos and kilos of books from there, swapping bookcases, cheap antique stores, relatives' attics and cellars, no matter the contents. I stopped buying them when I moved into my new flat, storing them in boxes under my bed because I'm not quite ready to get rid of poetry anthologies and encyclopedias I'll never read.
It's nice to see that other people get fed up with the stuff they love, too, when it starts taking up too much space in their lives. Congrats for reconquering that space!

Daffny AVintageNerd said...

Good for you for keeping it real chica. You are young, your style should change as you change. Its all a good thing. And as you said, the vintage finds another home. Nothing gets wasted. Bravo! xox

Stephanie Lynn said...

Good for you! It's so hard to not want to save every little piece of vintage you see, but we're not all running museums in our house. Style is allowed to change and fluctuate and evolve. I do miss some of your more traditional vintage outfits but you are still so adorable and your blog is always a delight.

Sue said...

Amen and thank you! I get exactly where you're coming from.

Bombshell Bettie said...

I've been living the past 3 years without vintage. Being pregnant twice and then breastfeeding for 2 years and counting has completely limited my wardrobe to huge ugly shirts..jeans that don't fit and that i can't replace because the kids are constantly growing out of their clothes. When I do look at or for vintage nothing matches my huge bust/small waist. I have a whole basement full but I can't wear any of it. I long to look cute again and feel pretty in a piece of vintage clothing. I def hear you on the repairs. My favorite dress popped all the buttons ( irreparable) , the next the waist needs repairing and I can't sew so I am stuck with unwearable pieces crowding my closet. I'm eventually going to purge all my vintage because its just depressing me at this point. I don't even enjoy running my shop and I think its starting to show..

Dakota said...

This describes me as well!! I actually had a small panic attack watching that show "Hoarders" the other night, because I see terrifying glimmers of myself in that inability to get rid of vintage clothing I'm just never going to wear. In addition to my two wardrobes at home and school, I currently have boxes full of antique through 1970s clothing in every storage space available in my house... it's terrible! And all I want to wear these days is simple black dresses anyway. As you said, I still adore vintage, but it's more like a collection than a wardrobe for me now, and completely overwhelming. I've opened an Etsy store, and pretty much banned myself from buying any more pieces until I do a major clear-out. I'm so glad to hear one of my favorite vintage bloggers has been through the same dilemma :)

Jennifer M. said...

This was a great post! I have been a vintage lover since I was a child and I am well into my 30s now! I have collected and purged many times!!! The best was when I sold/gave away everything I owned that did not fit in the trunk of my car. It was such a freeing thing. I do still miss one or two pieces some 15 years later but for the most part I do not. I love to collect vintage but I do not love to hold on to things. I have come across many a great find and I love it fr a while and then when I don't it is gone...for someone else to love.

Kirsty Altis said...

I agree with your view, and thanks for being so honest. I wrote about the same change about a year ago, things feel a lot clearer now. gee, I think I am now even becoming a minimalist! :)
best wishes for your next chapter, and defining who you are and what that looks like on the outside, Solanah.
http://brandnewarmour.wordpress.com/2012/07/09/clarity-and-apathy/

Madalynne said...

I try to adopt a simple lifestyle, not only with clothes, but with other items in my life. If I haven't used it or worn it in 6 months, I get rid of it. Of course there are some exceptions, but that's the general rule .

Victoria NicAnndrais said...

I've been reading a your blog for a long time, but don't think I've ever commented. I am a collector. It's very hard for me to get rid of things for many of the same reasons you mentioned, but it is something I am trying to work on, but it's oh so hard.

Nadia said...

Yes. Yes. Yes.

This.

Lauren said...

So true! I definitely am guilty of vintage-rescuing. I try and limit purchases by asking myself questions like, "Can I wear this during more than one season?" "Am I only attracted to it because it's unique?" "Is it figure-flattering without needing repairs?" I always go through my wardrobe around this time of year. I like to do clothing swaps with people so they can have a chance to wear something that might just be sitting around in a pile in my closet. I've noticed that by switching things out with the seasons, my clothes seem new to me again and I'm less tempted to buy extra stuff.

Lisa said...

This is a great post. I've spent the last year culling my vintage and pairing it down to what I love and wear. I've also started being more selective about those special pieces that catch my eye while out and about in the world - like the sequinned catsuit! Instead I've been buying vintage casual separates. They just fit my lifestyle much better than all those dresses I was hoarding.
And I love your style these days! I think its really great.

Lisa.

Kelley Anne said...

I know what you mean. I only really started collecting about 10 years ago, but before our daughter arrived two years ago, I realized that my closet had become a problem and decided to weed it out. I still go through twice a year to find things to donate or sell and save some things for my daughter's dress up box (or when she's old enough to really wear them)and I still purchase vintage, but am much pickier about what I'll buy and what my lifestyle and style are now. Thanks for posting this.

Jessica Cangiano said...

Thank you for speaking so honestly straight from the heart, dear Solanah. I am a steadfast believer in the fact that one does not have wear vintage 24/7 to adore it or call themselves a vintage lover. I sense that your passion for the past will always be a part of who you are and that even if you wear yesteryear fashions less often, you are still enamored with history. I admire that you've been able to recognize that your tastes have changed and are reshaping your wardrobe to keep pace. Those vintage pieces that you have opted to hold onto (and all of your garments, new or old) will benefit greatly from this, I'm sure, as they'll get more of your love and attention now.

♥ Jessica

Sara Wood said...

Muahaha. Yep. All of it. I'm totally ok with it though, it makes me happy. But that's the important difference - you were feeling weighed down, whereas it all makes me feel super inspired. Your interests should never inhibit your creativity, in fact it should be the complete opposite. Good for you for shifting your habits/approach to STUFF to become healthier for you.

That being said, even as someone who is completely content in my clutter den of mending piles... there's a line. It's a problem with practicality & need. I used to buy anything that I though was fabulous. Know what I ended up with? A closet full of evening gowns, a billion black hats... & nothing to wear to work. That's absurd. So - rules. No more evening gowns. Not allowed. Focusing on things I actually need/ wear a lot - *comfortable shoes*, dresses that can be worn day or night, colored hats. That's it. It's insanely helpful to have parameters, even for those of us that are stuck in a happy bubble of "saving it".

Looking forward to part 2 <3

-Sara

Susie Richards said...

Since becoming a new reader of your blog this past year, I have been catching up, reading a lot of your older posts. My goodness, you just wear vintage beautifully, just beautiful!! Even though you look great in a mix of modern/vintage clothing, I just have to say I was a little dissapointed when I started seeing your wardrobe changing. I'm so glad you did this post explaining the change. I totally can relate to a change though, especially for me during the winter months. As much as I want to wear my vintage, I usualy end up in a comfy jogging suit. Sometimes I just can't bare wearing stockings a slip and a dress (or even seperates for that matter) when it's freezing outside. But that's just me. Seems summer/spring is more agreeable for me and vintage attire, and I wear it daily.
I really hope to still see a lot more of your vintage attire posts :).

strwbrryflds4evr said...

Will you be selling clothes again? I hope so:)

BaronessVonVintage said...

I agree with you on so many levels, though I've let go of my irreparables now. For some time, I've been able to wear a vintage garment to a special event and leave a positive energy "imprint" on it before sending it on its way back out on its journey to bring joy to someone else. Most days, it's most practical to enjoy vintage pieces in a restrained sort of way! I love the way you are sharing your style evolution! :)

wardrobeexperience said...

very interesting post. i agree with you on many levels ... especially 'buying vintage to rescue it' ... but i love vintage and it makes me happy to look into my wardrobe and see my treasures waiting there.

since 'forever' i buy a lot of clothes mostly on flea markets and thrift shops. and once in a while i let a lot of the stuff go. i love to sell on flea markets ... for years my friends and i even organized a fashion flea market in our home town twice a year, which was a big fun. it's a good thing to clean out your wardrobe, make room for something new ...

just like sara wood, i shop vintage with rules: no evening gowns, because you never wear them ... less dresses - more vintage skirts - , because you can mix them with modern tops that can easily washed ... just buy pieces in a good condition (still working on this one) ...

even if i already miss your inspiring vintage posts, i can't wait to see your new style growing and exploring...

Pirtee said...

Completely agree! I was the recipient of the autumn-colored 60s dress you put on Swapdom. I asked for it specifically because it was something vintage that I would be able to wear more than once.

Love your post so much that I'm inspired to purge my unworn vintage pieces. Others can love them enough to actually wear them (hopefully)! Down with hoarding!

Anushka said...

Wow, I am SO glad that you wrote this post! It was just what I needed to read! Thank you for sharing your thoughts behind your lifestyle change. At the end of the day, it's just stuff!

mary van note said...

Love this post! I haven't picked up any vintage I find at thrift stores to sell because I have so much waiting to be sold in an etsy shop that isn't even running right now because I don't have proper lighting/space for taking photos! My style has also shifted, maybe due to weight gain, but I seek comfort, cottons, knits. I even picked up a couple pair of pants! I find that when I do go antiquing I focus more on finding jewelry because that takes up less space. Right now I'm looking at two coats hanging behind my door that take up so much space and don't fit me, I don't want to just take them to a reseller because I know how much $ I can sell them for online, so they'll wait, hanging there until I can post them on etsy. Sigh. Love this post! Thank you for the postcard!

Kim said...

I've gotten rid of soooo many things that didn't fit me, didn't flatter me or were in poor condition (for example, I had a wool coat with a disintegrating lining... am I REALLY going to unpick the lining pieces, use them to draft a pattern, sew a new lining and hand-sew it into the coat? Uhh, probably not.)

I used to feel a sense of attachment, but now I'm just glad that these things will find an appreciative new home rather than adding to the clutter situation in my apartment!

Sydney B. said...

The absolute TRUTH. Great post Solanah :)

xx~Syd

Sparrow said...

Maybe it's different for me because I live in Australia, and vintage is so ridiculously, frustratingly, stupidly hard to find - and then once you do find it, it needs to be in good condition and wearable AND cheap because I only buy it to sell. I would love to wear it, but I'm too fat so the wardrobe is not over-flowing (far from)- and to complete the trifecta I have a dealer's ability to emotionally detach from the product, so I don't ever get the 'I must take it home and love it' thing. I guess I'll probably never burn out on vintage...even though I've spent my entire 40 years of life surrounded by it. All this time I've been so jealous of the US and it's mountain of cheap vintage and all the slim girls who can wear it...maybe in a way that's also a curse.

SassySisterVintage said...

You just spoke what has been an issue with me for a long time. We recently moved into a new home so I had to clean out my studio of the old one. I got rid of soooooo much "stuff". It was liberating!

Lainie said...

Great post. I am a longtime reader of your blog-and it seems that many many people are moving toward simplifying their lives in some way. I also have started to feel as if my vintage wear has become a burden, and more of a costume as I get older...I will always have vintage and vintage inspired pieces, but have been leaning toward a "classic" version of myself. I look forward to seeing your style evolve!

LandGirl1980 said...

Amen to THAT!!!! Great post x

Louise said...

I've never commented on your blog before, but I wanted to say I appreciated this post, and I think it also prevented me from making a purchase on something vintage that I think I would have come to regret, so thank you!
I agree with everything you said, and I would add that, for myself, the cost is a big factor. Something can be far out of my budget, but because vintage pieces are usually one of a kind, you are blinded by wanting it and so you try to deny to yourself how much you are spending, or you simply buy too much vintage, because you keep finding one thing after another that is unique. You wear the piece once or twice and then it gets added to that repair pile, and you start to feel foolish. I have been trying to find other ways to appreciate the eras I love, without always having to wear vintage clothing.
I think sellers need to lower their prices when selling vintage, because the fabric at this point in time is just getting too old and delicate, now matter how careful you are. $100 and up for cotton dresses? I'm in a vintage price burnout, and it's making me see the light I think.

Fleur McGerr said...

Yup, you described me in this post too! This last year I've been drifting more into a new, indefinable style that's part vintage, part modern and part ??? (I guess just 'me'). Unlike you though I haven't actually sucked it up and sold any of it... and I do not have the space to be saving it. I feel a spring car boot sale coming on :) I for one love your style and though still struggle to read blogs regularly, love seeing your pics on instagram... you always look totally babely x

Drea Carmen said...

The struggle is so real! I can't even go into all of the unnecessary, unworn clothes I have piled up in "my" bedroom (that's a secondary dressing room, completely separate from my actual bedroom - so there's a clue for you)- at best, it could only be described as obscene. I know how it happened - as a larger size I knew that I wasn't going to be able to find the genuine vintage as easily as other gals, and since I conveniently worked at a thrift store I should snatch up the goods at every available opportunity. Well, eight years later and an overflowing second bedroom have told me otherwise. What's more is I know I don't even wear what I have half the time, as five days out of the week I'm work rummaging around in dirt, dust, mildew, and trying to do it as fast as possible. Not the ideal environment for delicate and sometimes restrictive vintage. A more modern and casual outfit is what you'll find me in 9 times out of 10. I completely understand where you're coming from - I still struggle to let go (I struggle a lot!), but it's immensely comforting to know that I can work my way through it, too!

Cindy said...

I did almost the exact same thing as SassySisterVintage. We were moving to a new home and the thought of packing up all my "stock" was stressing me out. I decided to call a wonderful vintage shop in Asheville, NC and arrange for them to buy it all. The only items I kept were ones I actually wear. Thrifting has definitely become a more enjoyable experience now that I only shop for myself. I don't feel the pressure to bring home every piece I find. Like SassySisterVintage said... it was very liberating.

Andi B. Goode said...

Oh, just like so many others, I can definitely relate to this post! I don't know what it is but I started drifting away from the vintage look I used to have, as well. I've sorted out what I don't want (and what doesn't fit) but I haven't yet got the motivation to sell it. However, now that I'm determined to make my study a nice space, maybe I'll finally get around to selling it all!
Anway, I love this post! It's inspired me to sort even *more* out of my wardrobe.

Emily said...

I know exactly what you mean, and this is what led me to start selling on Etsy - to assuage my "vintage guilt" for the pieces that I wasn't wearing, wasn't caring for properly, etc. I have found it immensely liberating to be able to buy things with the express purpose of selling them. It lets me off the hook, in a way. And if I do find the occasional piece that I simply fall in love with, I have room in my wardrobe for it because I'm not burdened with all these other "almosts," like you described (needs repair, doesn't quite fit, etc.)

thejefferyvintage said...

Dear Solanah, I really wonder what we will say about our styles ten years from now. In highschool, me and my friends were all hippies and the 70s flower power was cool. The younger generation now fancies the 80s and 90s - who would have thought anyone would ever appreciate a style we now laugh at while feeling a bit ashamed about what we wore back then (at least I do when I see old pictures). Vintage ahs become so widespread popular, that maybe it has reached its peak. And maybe it is time to look for something new. I'm curious what comes next.
Best, j e f

Lauren said...

I really enjoyed reading your post.
I have been noticing several bloggers I know from since many of us started have had style evolving recently. I think it's just a sign of the cycles we go through in life.
I've never dressed vintage every day. I am not dedicated enough, and I actually love clothes from many eras, including modern times. Although I admire people who are dedicated to doing the style daily, I personally am just too interested in many different time periods to be able to confine my personal style to one "look", let alone one decade or two.
I love vintage from the historical perspective, as "dress up" time. It's almost more like a costume for me, because I love doing the head to toe vintage look- but only for special occasions, or the occasional whim. In everyday, I tend to mix and match vintage elements in with modern clothing- something I see you doing many times. In fact, your posts are giving me more confidence and desire to share my "everyday" style, since I really don't do that!
And I actually am feeling the "de-stash" bug, too. I actually realized a few weeks ago that I wouldn't miss most of my vintage wardrobe- other than my hats ;)
Keep up the great work! You're awesome!
<3

Jennifer said...

I don't wear vintage quite as much as I used to, mainly due swing dancing 3-4 nights a week. 3 dresses have already suffered popped seams from big turns -.- I enjoy wearing repro; don't have to worry about "accidents" on the dance floor!

Tam Francis said...

Hahahahaha, laughing out loud. Brilliant and right on the money. I've been collecting from High School and although I sold a lot online during one of my purges, I still have a lot I'm holding on to. Not to mention the vintage sewing, but that's another topic. I'm writing the sequel to my The Girl in the Jitterbug Dress (www.girlinthejitterbugdress.com) and it might be fun to have one of the characters have this dilemma :) Thanks, and happy vintaging.

Wise Brunette said...

Wow. I can completely relate. I'm a vintage seller, a vintage wearer, a blogger who writes a segment about vintage, and a designer. The vintage repair pile in my studio is enormous! Because I know how to alter, fix, and remake just about anything, I buy beautiful pieces that need rescuing. Unfortunately, there's always a line of vintage alterations in progress and only so many hours in a day. My shop is a one woman show and it's impossible to tackle everything at once. I find it difficult to turn down tattered pieces because I can use them for a pattern. The question is when will I have time? I keep my own small collection, as well. Some pieces are my size, some pieces I hope to squeeze into, and some pieces I just can't part with. They are art. Considering I don't live in a historic mansion (a girl can dream right?) I'm running out of space for my fashionable art. I love the stories that come with vintage clothing and I love that I have the ability to pass on these restored treasuries to someone who will take them on a new adventure.

Darlene Yuris said...

This is the best blogger entry I've read in a long time. Thank you for sharing your personal evolution. I feel so connected to your philosophy here. And yet, whenever I stray too far into repro land, I usually regret the purchase. Soooo, dunno, maybe I'm forever a vintie. Anyway, best to you, Solanah.

Brianna Jones said...

I've always loved your blog, never commented (I'm shy), and I must say, this definitely clears up a lot of confusion. I was wondering for the longest time why I was seeing fewer and fewer outfit posts. I figured that maybe you were busy or just didn't have any special occasions to wear vintage to.

I absolutely love your style and have for quite some time. (Your Superman sweater inspired me to learn to knit.) The thing is, you have a sense of style that I haven't really seen on any other vintage blog. Although other vintage blogs have a really put-together, super-realistic look that I like a lot, your look was always more appealing. It's eclectic, and slightly mismatched, but in a VERY good way. I mean, you can wear a 50s sweater, a 30s skirt and lace-up boots from the 90s and STILL look good (when I try I look like the lights were off at my house when I got dressed that morning.)

Although it saddens me to know that your style is changing, I can understand what you mean by feeling like you have to buy vintage things just for the sake of doing so. (Although I can't really afford vintage and don't have many pieces other than a few dresses that were given to me, I totally can see myself doing that.) And you know what? Good for you for being able to do this. For that you are a stronger women than I.

Even though I will definitely miss the type of outfits I swooned over in the past, I'll still frequent your blog. It's the only one I know of that combines, vintage, boots, kitties, and comic books all in one place. :)

chic vic said...

I can TOTALLY relate! I am guilty of hoarding and thinking that my sewing/repair skills are better than they really are. As a result, I have piles of clothes that are need of some TLC. Le sigh.

I commend you for overcoming this "problem" - it really isn't easy to do. Keep it up!

Victoria

Susie S. said...

I, too, have struggled with that "I must save it all!" mentality. The truth is I'd still be a vintage hoarder if it weren't for moving to a far more expensive city. With less expendable income, I slowly started seeing my "hoarding" tendencies decrease. Now I'm constantly looking for things I can sell from my closet, and not feeling at all sad for it. Good for you for recognizing the problem and being able to let go of some of the clutter!

EyeForVintage said...

Best blog post I've ever read. Nailed it!

Thea said...

Dear Solanah

Thank you for this post and thank you for making my "vintage guilt" fell less oppressive. After collecting vintage for 15 years and people telling me for 10 of them that I am a hoarder, I have in the last year or so slowly started to release myself from the obsessive need to buy all the vintage that comes my way. In this transition I have for some bizarre reason felt guilty- like I was betraying something or someone. Therefore I must applaud you for your confessions and for letting me think this process perhaps is not such a bad thing. I will still buy and love vintage, but it feels good to know that the days of manic buying and delusions about what can be fixed or worn are over.

I have read your blog for a few years now and this post will keep me coming back for many more.

With the kindest regards,
Thea

Anniina said...

I haven't been wearing vintage in a long time. I never was a girl to wear only vintage, my wardrobe is full of modern and self-made clothes as well, but I think it would be a very good idea to get rid of all the clothes I never wear!