Taking care of vintage + a giveaway

I am by no means an expert on taking care of vintage, but I have made some terrible mistakes in my time which make me want to stop others from doing the same thing. Here is a non-exhaustive non-authoritative list of tips on how to look after vintage garments and make sure you can get the best out of them:

1. Handwash pretty much everything
 I know it is a horrible chore and the washing powder makes your hands super sore, but it is really the best way to ensure your garments last for a long time and stay in good condition. The rough washing machine can cause tears, pills and fading and generally bash your clothes around in an unpleasant way.

I hand-wash almost everything. I know a lot of other vintage wearers put their cotton garments in the washing machine on delicate, but I don't trust my crappy old machine enough to do that. I wash in cold water with a tiny bit of gentle detergent dissolved into it, in the laundry tub, and gently swirl the garments through the water to ensure the detergent gets distributed through the fabric. I leave them for a wee soak as I wander off and do something else. If you haven't washed a garment before and are unsure how it will cope, do a spot test to ensure wetting the garment and exposing it to detergent won't damage the fabric. Dip an un-exposed part of the fabric into the solution and wait to see how it reacts before going ahead with a wash. 

With my hardy cotton dresses, after hand washing I run them through a spin cycle to get rid of any excess moisture. I hang things out to dry in the sun to make them all crisp and lovely, but not for too long as direct sunlight will cause fading. If there is no sun - which there pretty much never is in Wellington - I hang them carefully across a clothes airer in our room with the dehumidifier on until they're well and truly dry.

If you do need to put things in the wash, because hand-washing is time consuming, ensure they are colourfast first. Use a gentle detergent or powder and allllllways cold wash.

2. You don't need to wash everything all the time.
 Idk, I'm sure some people will think this is gross but I definitely don't wash my vintage dresses every time I wear them. Most of them get a lot of wears out of them until they actually need a wash. I am just not that dirty/sweaty a person and I don't think they need it a lot of the time. I do, however, take other measures to ensure my dresses stay nice and fresh even if they've been worn four times. Hanging them out to air can breathe a bit of new life into them. I hang them by some open windows or peg them out on the line to let the breeze do its thing. The sun is also great at killing bacteria and keeping clothes smelling fresh and lovely.

Also, it upsets me to waste good vodka on clothing but it really does the trick on freshening up clothes that have been worn once or have been in storage and smell a bit musty. A fine spritz from a spray bottle on any potentially malodorous areas will go a long way.

Some vintage nightwear and lingerie I opshopped that I am yet to soak.

3. Store carefully
Very few clothes will take kindly to being hung on a plastic hanger on a rail. Most of my clothes are on granny-ish crocheted padded hangers I've picked up from opshops, but I don't have quite enough of them so some are still on wooden hangers and a few non-delicate non-vintage things on old wire or plastic ones. Knits and delicate or heavy fabrics can become stretched and damaged through the shoulders through being hung for a long time, so feel free to keep them carefully folded instead. Also, direct sunlight will fade fabrics quickly, so keep your wardrobe door closed.

Heat and moisture will also damage garments. I had a horrible moment when I first moved into my damp Aro Valley flat where after a week I realised there was black mold all over a favourite novelty-print cotton dress that I'd left hanging against a wall. I tried everything to get it off but there are still a few faint black specks. Don't make the same mistake I did! Dehumidify as needed, or use moisture absorbing sachets and a lot of them. I also have little lavender sachets through my drawers and wardrobe, which not only make things smell lovely but keep insects pests away.

4. Repair as needed
I need to take a little more of my own advice, as my sewing pile is a great untameable beast.  However, it's definitely the best idea to get onto repairs while you are motivated and before you lose one of the big buttons to your favourite little 60s jacket and can't find another similar one anywhere and now you just can't do it up ever again wahhhh. SO YEAH, don't be like me! I find that if I buy something with the intent to alter it, I'd best do it within 24-48 hours or it will never. Get. Done. If a metal zipper is catching the surrounding fabric, replace or it get it done at a tailor before you get stuck in a dress or it rips while you're trying to pull it on or off (also something I've done. I hate myself).

A good way to keep your clothes non-smelly is for you also to be non-smelly. The really lovely Jenna at Oh Natural sent me some of the Soapwalla deodorant cream to try, and it's pretty lovely. There is something about rubbing on this mix of essential oils and natural clays that seems a lot nicer than slapping on a bit of old Dove from a plastic tube. Also the smell is amazing, although very lavender-y and I know some people are sensitive to that odour.

Jenna has also given me one to give to you guys, so leave a comment including some way to get in contact with you if you'd like to try one for yourself. This giveaway is for NZ and Aussie pals only, but I have a US-based one coming soon!


Stuff I've Been Doing

Here is some stuff I've been doing lately, all taken from my Instagram.

Got a lilac Kanken and a cute Ruby Boutique dress, went to Christchurch and opshopped a huge pile of 40s and 50s lingerie with Christie. Also visited my baby Jolly Roger who went to live with an elderly couple when my parents moved to Vietnam. 

Won the Hungry and Frozen cookbook from Laura's blog and spent my sick day reading it in bed, Christie came to Wellington and we went to the Warhol exhibition, and some drunk pals painted my nails.

 Had a sandwich party at the top of Mount Victoria, finally got a Feminist Killjoy banner from Unicorn Parade, bought some stuff on Trade Me including an awesome 1950s Egyptian-print dress. 

Went to Maddie and Rachael's house a lot (x2), bought the same vintage Swatch that my mum has from her youth so we can match. 

Wore lots of novelty prints, bought cute dresses on Trade Me, got this amazing portrait of me and my fella done for his birthday by good old Stevie.

Got an impulse nose piercing with Tash, went record shopping with Tash, looked cute but had fringe gap at brunch with Tash. Lots of Tash.

 Got these pewter Docs as a present from my mum and wore them in dancing at Mighty, bought myself this great 1950s cheerleading uniform to add to my collection, went to Arthur's for amaaazing brunch and got a great haul from another Emporium Vintage sale.


For Sale

I'm selling some super cute stuff over on my Trade Me account so please take a look! It's technically for NZ and Australian buyers only, but if you are interested in something you can email me on georgianess at gmail dot com and we can talk.


Guest frocking at Lucy Violet Vintage

The gorgeous Kylie at Lucy Violet Vintage has given me the honour of guest blogging as part of her Frocktober campaign to raise money for ovarian cancer research. You can read my post here and donate to her campaign here!



I've lusted over the Karen Walker patio dress ever since it first came out in 2011, and I am so happy that it is finally mine! I found it for a really good price on Trade Me because the auction was ending on a Sunday morning, so I was bidding on it on my phone while at the veggie market. This dress was designed for a Royal New Zealand Ballet performance, and the skirt is made of fluoro vest nylon and has EIGHT full circles of fabric in it, plus the lining, so it moves and sits incredibly well. There is more information about the dress on this Thread article.

Wearing Karen Walker Patio dress from Trade Me with 1950s black beaded cardigan from Trade Me, misc tights, opshopped belt and shoes, Fieldguided 'thunder in our hearts' tote from a blog competition and Mac Girl About Town lipstick.


My favourite five opshopped finds*

*Well, my favourite opshop finds that I still have. There are some things I've bought and eventually sold and just regret it SO much now, like this cute pink rose dress I got for $2 in Nelson and this AMAZING 60s velvet floral dress I paid $20 for at Tassie Traders and sold for the same price and could just kick myself in the face for getting rid of.

But yeah, these are my top five finds that I've scrounged from charity shops and actually hung on to. My scores do not compare to those of Camelias and Crinolines or Helga, but I'm pretty pleased with my wee collection. It was actually hard to scale it down to five, and I would've had to make it six if my absolute favourite black and white striped top wasn't in the wash.
In no particular order:
1. The copper rose border-print 1950s day dress

I know, I know. I talk about and wear this dress way too often. This dress is the opshop equivalent of that time I met Tim Shadbolt and he kissed my cheek and we walked around Wellington talking politics; a story you just tell over and over at parties and bring up all the time and all your friends know it way too well but YOU'LL NEVER STOP TELLING IT BECAUSE IT WAS THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR LIFE. This dress is my big win and my favourite thing to be like 'oh? This? Just from an opshop' about. It's getting to the stage where no1curr about how much I love this dress or how I got it, but whatever, it still makes me happy every time I put it on.

And it was free. FREE. Someone actually looked in their wardrobe, examined this dress, and was like 'nah actually this isn't the most beautiful garment on earth, I'm going to throw it out'. And although that person is of questionable taste, I would like to thank them for bringing this into my life. Actually, Wellington is so small that one day I will be wearing this dress and someone will stop me on the street and tell me it used to belong to them and they donated it to the Aro Street Vinnies. I have seen people around Wellington tonnes of times wearing stuff I donated to the opshop or sold through consignment or on Trade Me. One girl had taken this great 80s fruit and veg print dress I sold and given it a mullet hem, which hurt me a lot to see.

Anyway, love this dress, number one dress, etc.

2. The sheer chiffon 1950s party dress

I got this dress from the same reliable Aro Street Vinnies that I got the former at, except I actually had to pay for this one ($4, I think) because I bought it before I volunteered there. As you can see in the last photo it has some unfortunate brownish spills on the skirt, but whenever I wear it people are usually so busy making thinly-veiled insults and being shocked at the site of 21-year-old woman dressed like a four-year-old from 1955 that they don't notice the stains. But seriously, this must be one of those great dresses that was made for a chubby child (I did find it in the kids' section), so the fit is really good on me as a wide and short vintage lover.  

I love the little diamante buttons and the sickeningly twee peter pan collar. I usually wear it with something black and sexy underneath so I don't look too much like an infant, but it also looks amazing with a plain slip and a knitted jumper with that great collar peeking out. 

3. The gray peter pan collar coat

 I got this amazing gray woolen coat, also from the kids' section of an opshop, at the Anglicare Depot in Summer Hill in Sydney in 2010. It was $8. The depot is this big, gross warehouse full of huge bins of clothing to be picked through. You cram your finds into this big burlap sack that you are provided with and weigh it at the end and pay $8 per kilo, or thereabouts. It also has a more curated opshop where the prices can be quite high, but I was happy to pay the price of an airport sandwich for this coat. This is sort of disgusting, but I've worn this so much that the lining has shredded through the arms and body and I have to be careful when I put it on that I don't shove my hand into the no man's land between lining and shell. The piping is velvet and navy blue, if this needed any more cute details. And the pink pin is from the Warhol exhibit.

4. Minnie Cooper red mary janes

 I got these shoes from a little church opshop in rural Taranaki where the old ladies manning the store were super, super cute. They let me go through their stock in the back room and I found SO much good stuff that Jack's parents had to courier a huge bag of clothes down to us because we couldn't fit it all in our luggage for the flight home. I got these for either $3 or $4, and one of the ladies was like 'back in the day we used to call those Mary Quant shoes and wore them with white tights and short dresses', and every time I style them like that I think of her. 

When I got them I thought they were real 60s mary janes, but I later found out the logo on the sole was for Minnie Cooper, an NZ shoemaker whose footwear is renowned for being excellent quality and super comfy. They took a couple of breaking-in wears but now they are by far the comfiest shoes I own and I am constantly stalking Trade Me for more of her shoes in my size. I have tiny feet so they don't often come up, but I honestly think they'd be worth the $400 they are new because of their craftsmanship and durability. I've worn these a lot since I got them and they look amazing still. I've got my eye on these.

5. The leather backpack

I found this one Christchurch day opshopping with my brother. It was $4 and I ran over to him and was like 'Will, you NEED this backpack'. He thought it was ugly and I wasn't actually that sold on it, but I bought it anyway and the next day I realised it was THE MOST PERFECT BACKPACK EVER. I haven't had an ill thought about it since. Not long after I bought it, one of my stylish friends said he loved it and asked what I paid for it. I held up four fingers and he was like 'four hundred? That's not bad' haha. Score. Several people have offered to buy it off me since then.

One of my biggest fears in life - this is telling about how chill my life is - is stuffing too many tomatoes in it at the veggie market one week and overloading it breaking it somehow and having to life the rest of my days without the style and convenience of a leather backpack.

Honourable mentions to ballerina dress I got for free when I bought a couch, 1950s chiffon ball gown with a print of flocked bows, the blue velvet cape (not cheap but worth it), 1950s wedding dress also from the Anglicare Depot, and peach pleated skirt that I still wear way too often plus BONUS the black and white striped top I mentioned earlier. Man, this post makes me so bummed to have to work all the time so I can't go opshopping during the week now. Saturday opshopping sucks :(
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