It can be hard to deny that I love vintage things; by my very nature I'm an old soul. I listen to Diana Dors as I sip my first morning coffee, sweep on lipstick as cherry red as Marilyn Monroe and pick out a comfy outfit Audrey Hepburn would be happy with. This love of mid-century glamour does have it's drawbacks though - vintage treasures are hard to come by and can tear with over wear. I have a particular dress which came to me falling apart at the waist and I dare not wear her until she's fixed. Same goes with a Victorian silk skirt who's floor length hem loves to snag in a modern home!
The solution? Make them all again in brand new fabrics and archive the originals? Possible, if not wasteful!
Why? New fabric is harmfully plentiful, contributing to fashion's massive carbon footprint and there seems to be no slowing down. Mills overproduce cloth using plastics and natural fibres, using up finite resources such as water, land, human labour and petrol. Not to mention the environmental impact of using fossil fuels at every stage from growing, harvesting, drilling, transportation, extracting, weaving, knitting, dyeing, finishing, pressing...
This is the main reason I buy second hand, vintage and thrifted clothing in the first place so that I am not personally part of the wastefulness. But we're then back at our original problem; vintage fashion is in itself a finite resource, especially clothes from earlier eras, larger sizes and excellent quality items.
So what is a femme presenting fatale to do?
I have made up in my mind a spectrum of solutions which may prove useful to you too:
Use up your fabric stash and use 2nd hand commercial patterns
- If you're a seamstress like me, you have a stash of fabrics accumulated over the years which just need the right excuse to use. Consider finding vintage dressmaking patterns online and using them to de-stash. The items you make will be utterly unique and fabulously retro!
Make copies of your favourite vintage items in vintage fabrics
- By gently taking a pattern from a precious garment you can remake it time and time again, potentially improving the fit and preserving the original - By making them out of vintage, good-condition fabrics you also have the joy of your old dress becoming new and historically accurate!
Mix up your eras
- Instead of exclusively making up outfits from the 50s, consider supplementing an original circle skirt with a thrifted top or matching 80s-does-40s with post WW2 accessories. Mixing and matching your vintage makes it absolutely your style and prolongs the life of your beloved clothes.
When buying and using new fabric, only use deadstock or sustainable fibres
- Try researching fabric shops that import the majority of their stock directly from designer mills, selling their deadstock and roll ends.
- Not only is it cheaper, it will be of much higher quality than direct to consumer fabrics. Buying ex-designer will make your designs really sing.
- Sustainable fibres include bamboo, peace silk, organic cotton, organic linen, organic hemp, recycled polyester and even wool and leather, depending on its source. It's just a matter of research and not being tempted by glittery plastic novelty fabrics.
Buy from small, independent, slow paced fashion brands for pieces you'll treasure and to give your antiques a rest.
- Buying from independent designers, (like Mal Amora!) means your garments will be made at a higher quality, will fit better and last much longer. Some even offer bespoke design touches to make your wardrobe truly special.
I hope these tips help you on your journey to becoming Fabulously, Sustainably Retro and don't forget to underpin your look with Mal Amora's eco-friendly ultra-pin-up lingerie. Available in the Boutique...
Got any tips for going Green and Retro? Comment them down below x