Vintage Designs – Always in Style

Remnants from Fabulous Wardrobe Collections

In 1970’s San Francisco and New York, in the era of the love children, amazing Victorian and Edwardian era clothing could easily be found at thrift stores. Remnants of the fabulous wardrobe collections of elegant society ladies were graced by black laces, silk chiffons, and heavy beading. These lovely old vintage apparel pieces were treasured by the bohemian girls, who added them to their joyful ensembles like snippets of red ribbon in a robin’s nest.

At the same time, clothing manufacturing were transitioning to synthetic materials, and polyester was the fabric of choice for the mass market consumer. Those who loved the natural fibers, the cottons, linens, woolens and silks of a previous generation were hard pressed to find their fabrics of choice in the current fashion and turned to these older pieces for their beauty in design and comfort.

Lost in Time

1918 look recreated using contemporary pieces

But of those wonderful vintage apparel pieces, though many are held preciously in private collections, so many have been lost to time, dampness and neglect. Even silk, which can last for hundreds of years with loving care, decayed in the moisture of wooden trunks. Also, much of the silk used in vintage apparel in the early 1900’s was weighted with lead to make bulk sale more profitable. Over time, the lead broke down the silk fibers, and strands often disintegrated during storage. Nothing breaks the heart of a vintage apparel clothing collector than a hand worked beautiful silk gown fraying into oblivion.

Vintage stores today still carry some items from the 1950’s and 60’s, before the polyester era, but pieces from the earlier part of the 20th century are rare finds. Most of the offerings in vintage stores are of the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s.

The Inspiration for Modern Design Trends

But fashion is cyclical, as “there is nothing new under the sun”, and designers through the decades referred to past pieces for inspiration. So, styles and design motifs from the early 1900’s Art Nouveau and Belle Epoque periods reappeared in couture collections during the 70’s, the 1920’s dropwaist and back bow was renewed in the 80’s, followed by the 1940’s padded shoulders and peplum reappeared in the early 1990’s.

Using “vintage inspired” pieces from these later eras, wonderful ensembles can be created, if one has an idea of the basic design elements to look for.