Green Fashionista

One woman's quest toward green fashion, green design, green work, and green living

Toward a mindful closet June 6, 2009

Filed under: fashion,vintage — Anne @ 5:35 pm

My husband and I will be moving across the country in a few weeks, and I’m getting ready to start packing.  As I surveyed my clothes and closets, I’ve noticed that there are many items that I haven’t worn in many months.  I also have some items that I’ve worn only a few times, and which are torn practically to threads.  I don’t want to move things that I don’t need with me for two reasons: (1) I don’t like having “stuff” that I don’t use; (2) the movers charge by the pound (and more pounds = higher carbon footprint).  I will be selling and donating the clothes that I haven’t been wearing, and (unfortunately) discarding those that are seriously worn out.

Thinking about the life of my clothing, I’ve realized that the move is an ideal time to pare down my wardrobe and begin to build a new wardrobe of high-quality, eco-friendly clothes.  Owning fewer, higher quality items is a concept that is familiar in Europe, where closets are much smaller and women build their wardrobes over a lifetime.  My Mother kept many of the pieces that she wore as a teenager and, because her style is relatively classic, many of the pieces came back into fashion.  I would have loved to wear some of these pieces if her move from Europe had not necessitated that she leave many of them behind.  She now regularly points out how many of my clothes are similar to those she had loved, including my simple ivory lace wedding gown (which I’m planning to recycle by either passing it on to any future daughters, shortening it into a cocktail dress, or selling it).

Back to my paring, I am planning to build my closet according to the following credo after my move:

1. I will purchase only high quality, keeping in mind that quality clothes will stay out of the dump for longer.

2. I will focus on finding classic items, which are easier to mix and match, so that I will need fewer things.

3. I will savor the process of acquiring a wardrobe that will last me for decades to come.

4. I will explore eco-friendly alternatives whenever possible (which includes vintage finds).

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What to look for when buying vintage purses and jewelry August 30, 2008

Filed under: accessories,vintage — Anne @ 4:54 am

In the reuse, reduce, and recycle mantra, reusing is one of the most energy-efficient and environmentally friendly options.  For every vintage piece of clothing you buy, one less product is manufactured and valuable resources are preserved.  Plus, vintage pieces can give you a unique flair!

Here are some expert tips to keep in mind when sifting and searching out those valuable treasures, straight from jewelry specialists Melody Rodgers and Leah Gordon, as well as handbag connoisseur and dealer, Carol Merkin of Treasures & Pleasures, all three are gallery owners at the Manhattan Art & Antique Center in NYC.  I know where I’ll be heading next time I’m in NYC ;0)

General

  • Don’t rely solely on labels to distinguish value, branding is a more modern concept and many of the top end brands from early periods did not put labels on or sign their pieces.  However, if pieces do have stamps or signatures and you aren’t familiar with the name, look it up as there are many resources available.
  • Only buy pieces that you love and will use.
  • If you are serious on becoming a collector, you should find a reputable dealer who can provide guidance and history.
  • A legitimate dealer will have pieces marked with price.
  • Vocabulary to keep in mind:
    Antique: 100+ years old
    Vintage: 50-100 years old
    Estate: previously owned, usually less than 50 years old

Handbags

  • When examining handbags inspect the leather to ensure skins aren’t dry and cracked, test suede or leather for bleeding (color runs off on finger), and be cautious when purchasing textile pieces as textiles tend to disintegrate over the years if not properly stored. If the bag looks brand new, the fabric may have been replaced diminishing its value.
  • Aside from more recent designer labels, distinguishing value points can be found by looking for ornate frames that incorporate stones and/or enamel work. Better quality leather that is soft / supple and smaller and finer beads which denotes better quality and craftsmanship.
  • You cannot repair a broken frame. The only elements that you can compromise on when looking at a worn bag are handles and interior linings. A broken handle can easily be changed to a chain or a beaded handle.
  • Be wary of odors because you can’t get rid of them.

Jewelry

  • When searching for vintage or antique jewelry, the main focus should be on looking for pieces that you love and that exude your personal style and personality. Additionally, be sure to stay within your target price range, it is easy to get swept away.
  • Check for visible defects which include broken pieces or chips, dents, gauges, cracks, 2 pieces that don’t really fit together, soldering marks (look for soft solder which is usually made out of zinc or nickel that looks dark gray or black).
  • Always store your vintage jewelry separately in soft zipped up pouch to avoid damage.