If the autumn/winter 2011 catwalks have shown us anything this season, it’s that there’s definitely a resurgence of ’50s-style glamour in the air. Men’s bow-ties have taken over as the new suspenders and
Mad Men-style womenswear is more ladylike than sexy, featuring A-line dresses and pillowy blouses. New takes on old fashion can hardly be called vintage, so what does define it? We asked vintage expert Maha Abdul Rasheed, owner of vintage boutique Bambah on Jumeirah Beach Road, to give us the lowdown on all things old-school.
How would you define vintage?
Vintage means previously loved garments that are 25 to 30 years or older and totally unique in nature. Most people consider clothing produced between 1920 and 1970 to be vintage, but some will extend this cut-off date to the mid ’80s.
What’s your advice for someone who’s shopping for vintage for the first time?
It’s very important that you research your product well and take your time in finding a credible supplier. You should always inspect the piece thoroughly, studying the labels, leather, and any unique product details to make sure you are purchasing a unique piece. When it comes to designer labels, it’s also worth checking with the brand’s flagship store for extra assurance [that it’s genuine] before investing in a luxury product.
How will people know if they have vintage clothing sitting in their closet?
If it’s at least 25 years or older and has been passed down from previous generations, you could possibly consider it as vintage. Of course, you also need to do some research and trace back the fashion and trends to see which era it was part of. Fashion from the ’50s is big this season.
What were the key trends during that era?
Flowers, stripes, polka dots and fur all became a part of ’50s fashion, and it’s also one of the most impactful and expensive eras in the history of fashion. Clothing followed a more elegant appeal.
Are there any designer brands that were prominent during the ’50s that are now more affordable?
Morton Myles and Bill Blass are two great designers. Morton Myles gained almost instant celebrity in 1961 when Jackie Kennedy wore his blue sleeveless linen dress on the cover of US Look magazine for a family photo with President Kennedy.
Do you have any tips on how to work vintage or vintage-style trends?
I’m a believer that you should take a vintage piece and integrate it into your wardrobe to make it a focal point. If you want to pull off a ’50s skirt, make it the focus of attention: wear it with a white T-shirt and flats.
What’s your advice for people who think they may have a vintage piece in their closet?
If you really like it, keep it, because you have nothing to lose. Take care of it – even if you don’t wear it, you can pass it on to future generations or sell it.
Buy original vintage clothing at Bambah, Jumeirah Beach Road (050 674 1754).