Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Quality in vintage, modern and reproductions..

One of the reasons that I love vintage is the quality.  An average vintage dress from the 1950s is head and shoulders above any modern department store frock in design, construction and fabrics used.   On the rare occasions that I venture into a mall or department store, I'm always horrified when I see the quality of the products.

Chinese cashmere is crap.  Notice how it is starting to pill, while still on the display table!  Don't buy it, it won't last the season, much less onto next.  In the past decade the Chinese have managed to make sweaters out of the cashmere that used to be thrown away, and the quality of the fiber shows.  I pass them up at thrift stores when they're marked $2.  In my opinion they're still overpriced.  I have fabulous vintage cashmere sweaters from 50+ years ago that I pull out winter after winters,  thicker, fluffier and built to last like a Sherman tank.  Shop for vintage pieces at local stores or online.  Dalton and Pringle are fabulous makers,  add "Scotland" to your search.  You'll be amazed what you can pick up for a fraction of modern prices, and be on cloud 9 when you put it on and experience what cashmere should feel like.

Women have breasts, it is one of our defining characteristics.  After having my son, mine have grown to fabulous proportions and I love them.  I wish fashion did.  Somewhere along the line stretchy fabrics have replaced darts and gathering.  I can't tell you the amount of dresses that I've seen in sizes 10 and up that could only accommodate a modest A cup at best.  All summer I watched girls with fabulous figures stroll by in sundresses with tank tops underneath.  Its not a fashion statement, its a necessity.  I like the bodice of my dress to cover more than the average pasty.

Even vintage reproductions can be just as bad.  I recently picked up a modern vintage reproduction dress from a business whose initials are QOH.  Original tags still attached and in a desirable size.  I figured it would be an easy sell on my ebay store.  Then I started to look at it.  The satin fabric is bottom of the barrel,  though the size is far into the "Plus" rage, there is no room to accommodate breasts, there isn't a hem, simply an overcast stitch, and worst of all....  The fabric wasn't cut on the grain.  You girls who so know what I mean, especially when dealing with satin.  The pieces of the bodice were cut out to economize on fabric, making the finished piece an odd mish-mash of shiny and dull.  Frankly, I'm embarrassed to list it, so it sits in storage, with its $100+ price tag still attached.  

While reading a pattern catalog I stumbled across the above drawing, used in an ad in 1942 that seemed to sum up my thoughts.  If you don't start with quality (patterns, materials, construction methods), you're not going to get quality.  It made me mentally examine my own wardrobe, what has lasted me the longest and what I buy simply to get by.  I can't think of a modern produced item that I have purchased in the last 2 years that is still going strong in my wardrobe, yet its easy to pick out a vintage piece that has been in regular rotation for 10+ years.

Obviously, there is good and bad in everything, but the good is just so darn hard to find.  I'm sticking to what I know....Vintage is worth the price, I'm off to buy more now.....