Me and my Vintage

Vintage has always been an interesting concept to me. I don’t think its ever dominated my life but it is certainly interwoven. Having parents like mine always meant that I would end up being of  the Rock n Roll persuasion. Growing up on a diet of The Who, The Rolling Stones and David Bowie meant inevitably I would choose a similar path. With my teenage years being firmly in the 90s I was exposed to, what we would call now I guess, a Mod Revival. With Ocean Colour Scene, Pulp and Suede dominating the charts it was difficult to escape the Parkas, ill fitting suits and desert boots. Coupled with a few local indie discos I was a smitten kitten. Quadrophenia became my favourite film, I got excited whenever that Lucozade ad came on the telly (coincidentally my now future husband is in it!), I wore my boyfriends parka during the hot summer days, I started a scooter fund and sold anything I could at car boot sales, my favourite T-Shirt had a picture of a Lambretta SX 200 on it, I cut out and collected ANYthing Mod related from newspapers and magazines and put them in my “Mod Folder”. I still have that and I’m convinced it will be my retirement fund. I would gaze longingly at all the scooters coming through on their way to the IOW Scooter Rally.  Aged 14 I would hang out of my best boy friend’s window watching the house opposite because the guy who lived there always had loads of scooters coming and going, we nicknamed him, ironically, Scooter Man. I met Scooter Man later in my 20s where he worked as a delivery guy, I was very excited but also let down that he wasn’t exactly Jimmy, he was more Jimmy’s nerdier uncle, I would have been mortified if anyone knew what a hero he was to me…but I digress…

In the 90s it was very difficult to find clothes that suited how I wanted to look. My parents rarely indulged in any shopping trips so I had to make do with what I already had – which wasn’t easy since I rebelled at 13 and decided to be a raver, but that’s another story –  and of course the obligatory charity shops. My Grandma is the charity shop queen, and would quite happily spend money on me in these smelly, stuffy rooms with old people. I didn’t hate it but I certainly didn’t love it either. But it taught me a valuable lesson when buying clothes, especially Vintage. The only shop in my home town that sold Vintage was very expensive. I remember getting my GCSE results and running down there with £50 in my hot little hand, only to emerge with a pair of beige corduroy flares and a brown Vintage shirt with square buttons (I’m pretty sure it was a boys one too), and that was all I could afford, baring in mind this was 1996 and £50 could buy you a whole new wardrobe in Pilot. And that always stayed with me throughout my formative years. Vintage was always ridiculously expensive so charity shops were the only choice. However I never really put the two together. Vintage doesn’t come from charity shops, that was just second hand, if you wanted Vintage you had to pay through the nose for it. So I guess I started to stray away from it. I still loved everything about the 60s but it was difficult and expensive to source.  But then as I got into my mid 20s I got back into it again. I found an amazing League of Friends in the hospital where I was working, which was totally untouched by outsiders. The old dears who worked on it loved me as I always left with piles of great stuff, all for around a fiver, which they thought was overpriced. I still have a Vintage Jaeger Camel Hair coat from there that I paid three pounds for. I would take select people and swore them to secrecy, I never wanted the local Vintage shop scavengers to find my treasure trove of precious things. Its not there anymore, but I used to return frequently after I moved on and quite often think if I knew then what I know now, I would have bought everything, not just the obvious stuff.

I then moved to London and everything changed again. I got back into it and nowadays its much easier to buy repros to get the look. My fave Peter Pan dress is from Primark. And with the advent of eBay and Etsy, Vintage has never been so accessible. I went through a phase of buying anything, whether it fitted me or not and then making the pilgrimage to the dressmakers to have it all altered to my own Vintage bespoke. I had also discovered an unseen before love for dresses, I had never been girly, but now I loved it. My cousin Naomi, of the infamous Vintage Secret can be thanked for that, she scoffed at my jeans and shelltops wearing and forced me into frocks. I have never looked back. I have achieved everything that the 14 year old me would have died for, I own a Vespa 150 Super called Stanley, I have a future husband who is a Mod, owns more shoes than I do and has a faster scooter. I’m an extra in Brighton Rock(defining moment was when wardrobe asked if my clothes belonged to them, I said no!) I have fallen in love with the Vintage scene once again. Now I’m older and wiser I can appreciate the cut of a dress and the feel of the fabric, but its taken me a while to get there. I have also calmed down the spending, I have a few beautiful pieces that have been far more carefully selected, mostly all the great East Londoner Frank Russell for Mansfield. And I also wear more and more Vintage things during the day too, something unheard of a few years ago, I would always save them for best, and of course they would never get worn, which is an absolute travesty for something that has survived for so long.  And its always a case of being your turn to wear something for a few years before someone else snaps it up as their fave piece. You never really own Vintage clothes do you, you just borrow them for a time.

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Comments ( 3 )

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Fleur de Guerre, Dawn Witt, Vintage, Naomi Thompson, Naomi Thompson and others. Naomi Thompson said: Second installment of 'Me and My Vintage' from Laura Firman, lover of all things '60s (and a bit of Primarni)… […]

Tweets that mention Vintage Secret : Me and my Vintage -- commented on Feb 23 11 at 2:38 pm

What a fascinating tale, thanks for the telling!

Strangely my 60s & 70s love started and flourished in the 90s, I lived in an area of charity-shop-gold in Norf London and went to Uni in Norwich, which had amazing/cheap 60s-70s ‘retro’ (it wasn’t called vintage then, cute) shops and charity shops in Magdalen St. I loved the 60s and 70s and realised that I could get faux fur jackets for a fiver or mad floral shirts for two quid. My most expensive buy were some handpainted suede flares for £35. They han’t been well kept and were very stiff, so I couldn’t really move in them!

Perdita commented on Feb 22 11 at 2:51 pm

Hi Perdita,
Ha, yes vintage shops were called retro werent they! Even though retro is ‘looking back’ and Vintage is antique! Very confusing times the 90s. And the charity shops were relatively untouched by bargain hunters. I do remember seeing a Mary Quant cape (see through plastic) in a charity during the 90s for £25 and getting very cross that they were trying to make as money as possible. Which in fairness, should be the way!
Do you still have the suede flares?!!

Laura commented on Feb 24 11 at 1:11 pm

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