I have been collecting vintage for as far back as I can remember. True, in the early days, it hadn’t cemented as a true passion just yet. Hours spent in the costume closet of my high school theatre made me feel a kinship to the garments I would find there. As if they too were the misfits, where a layer of dust and circumstance had rendered them forgotten pieces of fashion past.
In later years, that kinship turned into true appreciation, which later blossomed into full-blown obsession. A huntress was born. Always on the look out for the ones that have been cast aside. A broken zipper here or a popped seam there, stories hidden in her folds, just waiting for a new awakening.
So, now that I’ve been around the vintage block a few times, it’s funny to me to find myself in virgin territory: The Trade. Truly, in all of my years of scouring flea markets and stalking Etsy and building relationships throughout the vintage community, I’d never embraced the common practice of The Vintage Trade.
If you (like me) are feeling on uncommon ground, rather than purchasing a vintage dress, many ladies in the community trade one another. Offering a beauty of their own to swap for the one they want. This becomes quite commonplace with those of us who have amassed quite the collection, and is particularly useful in a situation where you might not have a lot of dosh, but have beautiful vintage pieces in your closet that you no longer wear.
And yet, I always found myself a traditionalist. See Dress. Hand over $$. Acquire Dress. But a message came through Instagram from one of my favorite gals to follow, Rose of NotFallingButFlying, who is just as fabulous as her wardrobe is stunning. She wanted to ask after a recent purchase of mine, which turned out to be a black color way version of one of her very first vintage pieces. A stunning rose print floral dress by Loungees. And although she thought it was unlikely, she wondered if I might ever be willing to part with mine? And here’s the kicker: she had a heart-achingly beautiful Marjorie Montgomery dress she was willing to trade (and you guys know my Marjorie Montgomery obsession).
In general, I do not part with my vintage. I become very attached, and this rose-printed beauty was definitely one that would have never left my hands otherwise. But, I know the attachment that is the First. The first vintage dress. That first twirl. The first time you do up a zipper and just finally feel like yourself. And I knew that Rose would love this dress as much if not more than I do. Plus, she went and dangled the Marjorie Montgomery carrot. What’s a gal to do??
So, I lovingly packaged up my Loungees dress and Rose sent this 3D rose-bespeckled beauty on her way to me. And when she arrived, with the flick of a zip, I knew I had made the right decision. And seeing Rose in her new (to her) dress and knowing how much joy it brought her, made me realize that this is definitely not going to be my final trade.
My best advice if you’re embarking on your first vintage trade: start with someone you trust. Someone who you’ve built up a good rapport with, who has similar style and who you trust to take good measurements and follow through on the trade. This was a dream first experience for me, and opens up an entire new avenue of finding beautiful things and passing still more beautiful things on.
I’m learning that vintage is fluid. It never really belongs to one person, but is passed from hand to hand to weave together a story from the past to the present. It holds special meaning for all of us who get to dance with her for awhile. And never sad or bittersweet, because you’re simply passing her on to the next part of her story.
It’s knowing that in a weird way, I never really owned that rose-printed dress. I was just meant to help her find her way home.
Lip Color: Ruby Woo