Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Shopping a vintage sale: 12 tips to improve your game

Vintage sales. You either love them or hate them. But one thing is certain: the better the bargains, the more stressful they can be. I've been to my fair share of vintage shopping events, from high-end expos to crazy free-for-alls, so I thought I'd share my tips for surviving (and winning) at a vintage warehouse sale. Some of these tips also apply for flea markets, vintage fairs and of course the vendors at Viva Las Vegas!

It's about to get real in here.
1. Full skirts are your friend.
The first thing you have to think about is what you’re going to wear. Weather permitting, I always like to wear a full skirt and fitted top. You can’t rely on accessible change rooms, and you may have to try stuff on in public, so a full skirt is handy, because you can try on skirts or pants without taking anything off. (You can even wear leggings underneath if you want.) In the case of tops or dresses, you can usually throw them over your fitted top, again without having to strip off.

At the last vintage sale I attended, there were no fitting rooms, and some poor rookies were attempting to hide behind the clothing racks to try stuff on. The clothing racks did very little to hide their public nudity, and they got yelled at. Not by me though. I thought it was funny.
Plenty of room to try on things under here!

2. Take a hands-free handbag.
I usually bring a small bag with a cross-body strap, so I don’t have to worry about it sliding off my shoulder. If it’s really crowded, it’s probably a good idea to wear your bag around the front, just in case there’s any thieves lurking in the area. Another good option is a Chimayo purse with a belt loop. It’s like the classy version of a fanny pack!
My first 'fanny pack' since 1989.
3. Bring cash.
Depending on the kind of sale you attend, there may or may not be credit card facilities. Best to bring cash just in case, and it also improves your bargaining power with vendors.

4. Don’t forget your secret tape measure.
I can’t count the times I’ve wished for a tape measure, but forgotten to bring one… Not anymore! Next time you go to IKEA, take advantage of the free paper tape measures they offer. You can fold them up and put them in your purse or wallet, so you’ll never be caught without a tape measure again!

If you like polyester, you're in for a treat!
5. Separate yourself from the pack.
When you arrive at the sale, do a quick survey of the room. It’s amazing how many people like to start from the far left and work around the room. A crowd will often form at that starting point, and that’s exactly where you don’t want to be. Find the least populated area and start from there.

6. Shop like the professionals.
I once saw a segment on a current affairs show about the pickers who worked for the big fashion houses. They were responsible for going to vintage wholesalers and buying pieces to “inspire” the designers, who then got so "inspired" they copied them exactly. Anyway, that ten minutes of television changed the way I shop forever.  

The pickers explained their system for shopping an entire warehouse with ease. First, they would walk along the racks, looking for COLOUR. The colour is the first thing that catches your eye on any outfit. Once they spotted an interesting colour, they would zero in on the FABRIC. If it turned out to be 70s polyester, they would instantly dismiss it. If the fabric looked interesting, only then would they reach in to examine the dress for a closer look.

This system is much quicker than leafing through the racks piece by piece. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

A whole rack of jumpsuits? There must be at least one Ceeb here.

7. Bypass the roadblocks.
When you’re trying to shop like a professional picker, chances are you’ll be moving along the racks at a faster pace than others. That’s okay! Rather than getting annoyed at the slowpokes, just keep moving. Make a note of the rack you’ve missed and go back there later.

8. Don’t think until the end.
If you see something interesting and find yourself pondering it for longer than about ten seconds, just grab it. Pick things up, drape them over your arm and keep moving. Once you’ve finished your first pass of the racks, you can find a quiet place to examine each item and think about whether you want to buy it or put it back.

9. Dive in with dignity.
Ah, the bargain bins. For a dedicated treasure hunter, I have a surprising lack patience for digging through bins. I like to just cruise past and peer into the bins to see if anything catches my eye. If that doesn’t bear fruit, then I’ll grab a handful of stuff, and have a good look underneath. I rarely dig further than that. I like to trust that the vintage gods will help things rise to the top if I’m meant to find them.

Who likes short shorts? Apparently everyone.
10. Do the hover.
It happens to everyone. You turn around, and you see someone holding an item you really want. Nooooooooo!!!! There’s only one thing to do. Hover. I have perfected The Hover over years of thrift shopping, and it really is an art form. You want to hang around and look busy, while watching your target like a hawk. There’s always a chance they will lose interest in Your Item, and you can swoop in and grab it.

Of course, subtlety is the key here. If your target suspects you’re interested in whatever they’re holding, chances are, they’ll buy it. (If someone else wants it, it must be good!) I like to face away from my target, pretending to focus on something else entirely, while watching them intently in my peripheral vision. As soon as they put down that full skirt with starbursts on it… BAM, it’s mine!

Is that a Lilli Diamond? Nope.
11. Do a lap of honour.
If you have time, it’s always worth doing a quick second lap. Staff or customers may have been holding onto some good stuff, which has now returned to the racks. You never know what you may have missed.

12. Step away from the madness.
Some people hit vintage sales like their lives depend on it. (I once saw two grown men almost come to blows over a coffee table. A coffee table! And it wasn't even a nice one.) So if you find yourself surrounded by a pack of crazy people, just move on to a quieter place. There’s probably good stuff there they haven’t even seen.

Good luck out there… And may the vintage gods smile upon you wherever you go!

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Change your look with the $8 fake fringe

I haven't had a fringe (that's bangs for my American readers!) since I was about eight years old. I've come close to cutting it so many times. (Particularly if I've been looking at pictures of Traci Lords in Cry Baby.) But I've always been put off by the prospect of The Awkward Grow Out Stage if I didn't like it. 

I started looking into the faux options, and hadn't had much luck with the stores here in Melbourne. They wanted up to $100 for synthetic hair that didn't look very good, so I decided to try my luck on ebay instead. I found this listing for clip-on bangs in real human hair for $8. I was dubious, but for eight dollars, it wasn't much of a gamble. 

My faux bangs arrived pretty quickly, and I was astonished at how well the colour matched my real hair. The hair was way too long, so I had my hairdresser cut it for me, and she too was amazed at the colour match. I like to wear a headband to disguise the join, but apart from that, I couldn't be happier with my new fake fringe... Do I look like Traci Lords yet?

Don't tell anyone it's fake!

Fake fringe: Ebay
Ponytail wrap: Lady Jayne from Priceline
Black hoop earrings: Forbidden Charm
Black turtleneck: Thrifted
Brooches: The Crave Yard

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Fun times and good outfits at Wild Porteño

Last weekend, I flew up to Sydney for Wild Porteño with Leah from L-Bomb Fitness and Michelle from Mikala Design. We flew up a couple of days early, so we could catch up with friends, do some shopping and drink lots of cups of tea. 


Retro Spec’d: We hit up Retro Spec’d pretty much as soon as we landed. Their new store looks fabulous, and I couldn’t resist picking up a few things for work. (According to the scales at the airport, I bought exactly 1kg of Retro Spec’d clothing.) I’ll have to do a full report soon!

The Hi-Boys: On Sunday night, we ventured out to the Torque Bar to see The Hi-Boys from the Sunshine Coast. There’s been a lot of buzz about these guys since they signed to Wild Records earlier in the year, and they didn’t disappoint. After the show, we left straight away and definitely did not drink shots with the band.

Avi the UBER man: The UBER app saved our hair on Monday! As we headed out to Wild Porteño, it was absolutely pouring with rain. Our UBER driver Avi could tell we weren’t looking forward to making the dash from the car to the venue, so he rushed out, got a big umbrella from the boot of the car and escorted us into the venue one by one… What a gentleman!

Luis & the Wildfires: Luis tore it up as usual and whipped the crowd into an absolute frenzy. There was beer, cigarettes, combs and body parts flying everywhere! It was like being at a gig in the early 90s, only we hadn’t been driven there by our parents.

Gizzelle: She’s been to Australia twice this year, and we’re so lucky to have seen her both times. What a voice!

Etsy ladies: Michelle, Leah and I all got to meet some of our fabulous Sydney customers… I think I counted eight different ladies wearing Forbidden Charm over the weekend, so I couldn’t be happier. Looking good ladies!


Harlequin outfit: Swellegant vintage / White hoop earrings: Forbidden Charm / Shoes: Django & Juliette

Brown & turquoise Mexican dress: Mikala Design / Gold hoop earrings: Forbidden Charm
Vintage Mexican dress: Ebay / Yellow Fiesta earrings: Forbidden Charm

Black velveteen top: Mikala Design / White capri outfit: Swellegant vintage 
White hoop earrings: Forbidden Charm / 
Zebra corduroy top: Ebay

Zebra capris: Mikala Design / Pom pom capris: Ebay / White capri outfit: Swellegant vintage 

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Outfit of the day: Miss Hussy Sophia dress

It’s the party dress code all vintage lovers dread: Smart casual. Cocktail? No problem. Black tie? Even better. Hillbilly jamboree? Yessiree!

When faced with a smart casual wardrobe challenge, I usually go for one of my favourite Australian repro labels like Wheels and Dollbaby, Mikala Design, Powderpuff Boutique, or in this case, the (now closed) Miss Hussy.

I love the Sophia dress so much, I have it in two colours. The simple, yet elegant styling is definitely smart casual, and the rhinestone buckle on the shoulder adds a snazzy touch without seeming too over the top.

I teamed the Sophia dress with a black vintage clutch purse, Weiss hoop earrings and modern pewter mules by Callisto of California. These shoes are my secret weapon! They are so unbelievably comfortable, I always wear them if I know I’m going to be standing up all night. They’re not as cute as vintage, so I added the rhinestones myself. 

The dress didn't come with a matching belt, so I wore this one I found in my drawer. I have a lot of belts.

Outfit details:
Dress: Miss Hussy
Belt: Thrifted
Clutch purse: Stylecraft Miami from The Vintage Shed, Tyabb
Earrings: Vintage Weiss from ebay
Shoes: Callisto of California from Macy's