Doris Raymond's Vintage Tips
FROM LEFT: Art Deco chiffon gown from the 1930s; Dior silk taffeta cocktail dress circa 1959; A 1980s Vicky Tiel jersey cocktail dress; Hervé Léger bandage dress from the 1990s
1. When collecting vintage designer or couture pieces, do your research. Make sure no alterations have been made that may diminish the value of an item. Shop in reputable establishments with knowledgeable staff, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
2. Find a good maintenance team. Inquire at the better vintage shops for tailors, dry cleaners, re-weavers and shoe-repair shops to help keep your purchases in near-perfect condition.
3. Develop a relationship with your favorite vintage store. If there is a certain designer, era or collectible you’re obsessed with, sharing that information with your favorite shop is a great way to be the first in line to see new acquisitions. How do you think top stylists get to that drop-dead-gorgeous piece first for their celebrity clients?
4. Try it on. The genius of many designers lies in how their clothing looks on the body, not the hanger. Different eras offer greatly divergent silhouettes, and there’s one for every body type. The only way to find out which one may be perfect for you is to try it on.
5. Shop with a friend. While knowledgeable staff can point you in the right direction or educate you on what’s hot, sometimes only a friend can tell you whether you should actually dare to wear something out in the real world.
6. Visit the many vintage clothing shows and flea markets Los Angeles has to offer to see the widest variety of what’s available. Consider it a treasure hunt, and be prepared to invest a little time and money in refurbishment.
7. When shopping for a gift, a safe bet is to shop for a vintage accessory. A piece of costume jewelry, an antique evening bag or a rare Hermès scarf all make to-die-for presents.
8. Peruse fashion magazines to check out the latest trends major designers areshowing that season. Note the ones that appeal to you or that you may want to try. Then hit the vintage shops and pick up some pieces today’s fashions are inspired by—which will undoubtedly be a fraction of the cost.
9. Leave the kids and men at home—unless of course they are as into vintage shopping as you are. Vintage shopping is a luxurious sensory experience that is a labor of love and requires a time commitment.
10. Finally vintage shopping should be fun, not a chore. Being in a great vintage store is like being in a museum where you are encouraged to touch and try on the exhibits. Enjoy!
BOTTOM: Doris Raymond
PHOTOGRAPHS BY KARYN R. MILLET