Don't miss this cool vintage fair in Norwich at the weekend
PUBLISHED: 19:30 21 January 2020 | UPDATED: 14:48 23 January 2020
As Lou Lou's Vintage Fair returns to St Andrew's Hall in Norwich on January 25, vintage clothing specialist Susie Pritchard shares some tips for what to look out for.
"Shopping for vintage and pre-loved clothing is becoming more popular than ever as lots of people are falling in love with the style, quality and uniqueness of wearing vintage, and are increasingly looking for more sustainable ways to shop," says Susie Pritchard, vintage collector and owner of Wake Up Little Susie.
"We're very lucky in Norwich to have lots of fantastic charity shops, antique centres and vintage clothes shops like the newly created Vintage Hub on St Benedict's Street."
And this weekend sees the return of Lou Lou's Vintage Fair, at St Andrew's Hall on Saturday January 25 from 11am to 5pm.
Lou Lou's is an established award-winning brand, which holds events all over the country - and as well as shopping, there is plenty of entertainment and food too.
"The Norwich fairs are a fabulous experience with a vintage tea party, live singers, a vintage beauty salon and an eclectic mix of traders from all over the country, as well as our local favourites, with a wonderful cross section of clothing, accessories and ephemera," says Susie. "You just don't know what treasures you might find."
If you're new to shopping for vintage and are not sure where to start, Susie has some advice.
1. Rule number one...
Is that there are no rules! "Shop vintage to create your own unique style, if you like it and feel good in it, then wear it," says Susie.
2. Watch out for sizing
If there's a size label in a vintage item, don't trust it. "Dress sizes have changed over the years, so a 1950s Size 12, a 1980s Size 12 and a current day Size 12 will not be the same," says Susie. "Lots of older clothing will be hand-made too, so fitted to an individual rather a standard size. I would always recommend trying things on where possible, Lou Lou's traders always have plenty of mirrors, and clean, warm changing areas, and it's not a bad idea to carry a tape measure with you if you're on a shopping spree.
"It's harder when buying online, but online sellers will give you lots of measurements, and don't be afraid to ask for more details if you're not sure, and it's always best to try to compare with a similar garment in your wardrobe that you know is a good fit."
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3. Check the condition
Remember that the items you're looking at are quite old - unbelievably clothes from the 1990s are now heading towards 30 years old, and would still be considered relatively 'new' in vintage circles - and while some may be hardly worn, some will have had previous lives and adventures, which is all part of the fun. "A good trader won't sell anything with huge amounts of damage, but do look out for fading, marks, tiny holes, missing buttons, loose seams etc and decide what you can live with," says Susie. "A seasoned vintage collector will relish the challenge of sourcing some matching buttons or a replacement for a missing belt, but some buyers may prefer something a little more low maintenance, so do check."
4. Collecting one era
You may decide to collect items from a specific decade that you're particularly interested in and have fallen in love with, or maybe you're working on a project and need to stick to a specific era. "There's nothing wrong with a bit of research before you shop - we have the history of fashion at our finger tips on the internet," says Susie. "But I would recommend some more old fashioned methods; watch some films from your chosen period - a session of black and white classics will soon give you a 1940s vibe - and collect some paper ephemera. Old magazines have glorious adverts and illustrations which highlight the clothing shapes of the time, as well as hair and make-up styles.
5. You'll soon pick it up
"After years of collecting and wearing period clothing, I can practically sense the presence of a 1950s dress when I walk into a shop, but we all start out as beginners," says Susie. "When thinking about how old something might be look at patterns, types of fabric (natural or synthetic?), look at the style of the graphics on labels, check out fastenings (what do the buttons look like and is the zip plastic or metal?), think about the length, style and shape of the item and if there's a label look for things like washing instructions (the presence of washing instructions will usually indicate the garment is late 1960s or later). You'll soon become a vintage fashion detective as you get the feel for what you're looking for," she says.
6. Mix and match
Don't feel that you have to be pedantic about matching everything you buy to the same era. "Try a 1950s dress with a 1980s belt and 1970s coat. If you like it, then it works," says Susie. "It's really fun to mix and match to create your own individual look. All decades harked back to previous eras too, so it's easy to find '1970s does 1940s' or '1980s does 1950s'. Experiment and have fun with outfits and accessories and see rule one!"
"Often a tricky one, and the price of something will depend on lots of factors like age, condition, brand, quality, rarity, desirability of style, etc so you will no doubt see a wide cross section of prices, but there are absolutely always bargains to be had if you have a good rummage (never be afraid to rummage!) and ultimately, it's about what something is worth to you," says Susie.