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To wear or not to wear vintage clothes?

Diversifying your wardrobe with vintage pieces is in fashion right now, but still some people are just not willing to accept their flaws.

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Mary-Kate Olsen wearing a vintage Chanel dress and Ashley Olsen wearing a vintage Gianfranco Ferré dress at the MET Ball.

The question raised in the title of this article is actually very important because if you value perfection and crispness of unworn fabric, vintage fashion may not be the right choice for you. By definition vintage clothes come with a story and a history for our eyes to behold and our hands to feel. Even unworn garments when hidden in the closet for 30-40-50 years will show unexplainable stains, not to mention falling prey to moths. In the best case scenario, you'll be left with tiny holes on your clothing or in the worse case with the large ones. As for pre-loved vintage clothing, the damage there might be even bigger: cigarette burns, wine or perfumes stains, basically everything that happens to our clothing in everyday life

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Madame Grès retrospective at the Musée Bourdelle, France

How does one deal with all of this? Vintage dealers usually neaten the garments before selling them: sending them for dry-cleaning and trying to restore them while making a few important decisions along the way. For example, should the missing components be replaced using new materials: can you substitute fallen-out rhinestones, torn lace or abraded velure with modern analogues? Is it even OK to put this gorgeous silk Yves Saint Laurent jacket up for sale if it has an irremovable stain?

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The Laboratory for Restoration of Textiles of the State Hermitage Museum, Russia

In this case everything depends on the scale of the problem. A few missing rhinestones will not lessen the value of a vintage piece, nor will a few stains, nor small clothing moth's holes.These are small imperfections that contribute to the garment's history, and this is what makes each vintage story unique. Just as you don't paint the missing figures on the old painting, you should also try to not "over-restore" a vintage piece. You can remove the old varnish from a painting and clean it, but no one  in their right mind would add extra details to an existing masterpiece. Over-restoring a vintage piece is considered bad taste among the dealers, collectors, and the museum workers.

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"Old costumes in cinema" exhibition in GUM

As for small repairs, of course seams should be restitched, but the treatment of holes might not be as obvious. The big holes should definitely be mended but the small ones can be left as they are, as   those tiny imperfections give the garment a "not trying too hard" look, highly-valued by fashionable people. A clothing piece with a history instantly gives off a cool & chic vibe, while a polished new outfit can seem pretentious.

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The retrospective of Yves Saint Laurent's collection at the Bowes Museum, England

The best lesson in clothing restoration can be learned by visiting a fashion-exhibition in a museum. When you walk among the mannequins and dresses showing traces of mending and wine and food stains, you understand that you are living another's life through these pieces, and this is exactly the  the bonus you get by owning a vintage piece.

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Julia Roberts wearing a vintage Valentino dress at the Academy Awards

But if you're really bothered by small imperfections in your Valentino dress then you might as well buy new fabric and ask your dress-maker to make a similar one.

Sourse of the pictures: styleclicker.net, hermitagemuseum.org, wallpaper.com, yamoskva.com, glamour.co.uk, themommist.com

Author: Elena Stafyeva

24.12.2014

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To wear or not to wear vintage clothes?

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