Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Little Guide To Vintage Shopping

If you think vintage amounts to a 1990s prom dress or immediately think wine, you might need a friend to guide you. The fascinating way of vintage will change the way you see the world.

The guide I found is The Little Guide to Vintage Shopping. It is a compact, elegant little book filled with helpful tips and information. It is not a coffee table book nor is it meant to be (it can, in fact, fit in just about any purse). And that’s what makes this book such a gem.

About The Guide Who Wrote The Book.

Author Melody Fortier (MissTangerine on Twitter) has some vintage credibility. She's been in the vintage business for more than 20 years. She owns her own vintage clothing/accessories store, Tangerine Boutique in Gardner, Mass. The Website is not as hip as the store or the book, but it is enough to discover that she has a passion for all things vintage.

And that’s what she shares in this book. Even for people like me who love vintage, we generally know about what we like but never give much thought to the true tenets of vintage. The biggest mistake made? Not all "antique" items are "vintage."

joieThis is how Fortier starts her story, explaining that the terms “antique” and “vintage” are often incorrectly used interchangeably. The worst abuses tend to be on eBay. There, you'll find items made five years ago described as vintage. The 1980s prom dress might be described as antique. Not even close.

What Makes An Antique Anyway?

Antique clothing and textiles usually date back to the 1920s and are more suited to being collector’s items. That means you wouldn't want to wear them.

Vintage clothing, on the other hand, covers that last 100 years or so (starting in the 1930s). It includes both high-end and low-end clothing, and everything that falls somewhere in the middle. This includes haute couture as well as the budget designer. Fortier does a fine job covering these details in her book, of course.

But better than a broad brush of vintage, Fortier also covers topics that aren't on the "what you like" menu. She details what you might find in the marketplace, what might be a good value, and when to walk away from the sale.

She also provides real insight that only a store owner would know: labels and pricing, spot removal, sizing (which is critical since a size 6 in 1960 isn’t a size 6 in 2010). She also covers shoes and accessories, and provides a glossary for anyone hoping to make better decisions when you want to make a purchase.

Take a long look at these pink leather slide slippers (circa 1960s) that are nice enough to wear as shoes (available at Fortier's store). Fortier covers all the details in her description, right down to the pale pink grossgrain ribbon. If you always wanted some assurance that nobody could possibly own a pair of shoes like this, these All-abouts are it.

And that's what it is all about, isn't it? Smart shopping so we shop some more and find something no one else can possibly own.

The Little Guide to Vintage Shopping Scores An 8.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

No, this little book might not be hip on its own. But the knowledge you gain can help you discover the unseen side of vintage shopping. Mostly, it helps makes those of use who are curious about fiction become a bit more knowledgeable so we're not as dangerous.

The choice is yours. I'm a passionate participant in the world vintage. And from that perspective, it seems to me that someone hoping to become a serious collector needs to start somewhere. This book is one of the places I started. Other people seem to agree. The Little Guide to Vintage Shopping: Insider Tips, Helpful Hints, Hip Shops retains a solid four stars on Amazon.

Why not five-star ratings elsewhere? Some people fancy themselves smarter than the insiders. And a few people hoped for more pictures, never realizing a "little" guide isn't for the coffee table.