With wedding season in full swing for me again, outfit planning started in earnest a couple of weeks ago. Having attended an average of 4-5 weddings per year in the past few years, I have a wardrobe full of once worn dresses from the likes of Coast, Ted Baker and Reiss. Yet I still had nothing to wear! See the thing is, since buying these dresses both my style and my approach to fashion has changed. Where I would once drop €200 (and usually more!) on a Ted Baker dress then have a hat or fascinator custom made (only to be worn once) I now look for occasion wear that is a little different, more low-key and can be worn again in different ways. And probably most importantly, doesn’t break the bank in the process.
Wedding guest dressing can be difficult and finding something a little different that doesn’t involve selling a kidney to pay for it can be a challenge. For a recent wedding, I had trawled the high street and online for a suitable outfit and apart from a beautiful Realisation Par dress that was out of my price range, I came up with nothing. Enter vintage shopping. One of my favourite stores in Dublin is Om Diva Boutique who, as well as selling new clothing, also has a vintage basement filled with gems just waiting to be discovered.
I picked up this vintage dress there during their sale for €20. I instantly loved the print and the pleated skirt so I knew I couldn’t leave it behind whether I wore it to the wedding or not. As is often the case, the dress was free size so was very baggy on me on top. After speaking to the really helpful girls in Om Diva, I was assured this would be an easy alteration to make. I had the dress altered by the team in The Zip Yard who made suggestions for other changes we could make to the dress to improve it even more. In the end, I had the top taken in, the neckline lowered and modified and the sleeves turned into more of a bell shape. I was delighted with the outcome and particularly the cost; including alterations, the final cost was approx. €65!
Vintage shopping can be a daunting task though and it can be hard work trawling through rails and rails of clothing in search of that one great piece. I’ve put together my tips to help you vintage shop like a pro.
- Only buy things that are comfortable and generally fit well. Small alterations are to be expected but avoid buying pieces where extensive alterations are required. Not only is this expensive but it completely changes the garment and may not turn out the way you imagined.
- Keep your own wardrobe and style in mind. As with any new purchase bear in mind what you already own and what you will wear the piece with. You also want to avoid looking too costumey so mixing vintage with modern is a good approach.
- When you see something you love, just buy it. With vintage clothing, as they are one-off pieces, the chances are it won’t be there the next time you go in.
- Give yourself enough time. Vintage shopping is not something that can be done in a hurry. Set aside enough time so you can go through the rails of clothing properly and try each item on. Trying on is a MUST.
- Check before you buy. As these pieces have had a life before you found them, it is important to check everything from buttons and zippers to hemlines and make sure there are no irreparable rips or stains.
- Buy in bulk. Many vintage stores are now doing kilo sales where you buy your clothing at a set price per kilo. The volume of people and pieces can be overwhelming but there is great value to be had.
- Don’t be afraid to take a risk. Consider items that might be out of your usual comfort zone. The beauty of vintage shopping is that you find pieces that stand the test of time outside of the trend driven pieces on the high street.
- The devil is in the detail. When vintage shopping check for details like buttons, embroidery and embellishment.
- Think about the aftercare. If it is something that needs to be dry cleaned after each wear then this will be an added cost to be aware of.
- Have fun! Vintage clothing can be a super way of finding something a little different and injecting some personality into your look so have fun with it.
On the day of the wedding, I was lucky enough to be invited in to have full glam done with the amazing team in Valair Hair & Beauty in Galway city. It is a one stop shop spread out over three floors where you can have your hair, make-up and nails done in prep for a big occasion. If in Galway city, you should definitely check them out; I was spoiled rotten and was delighted with the outcome.