One reason why elegance seems so terribly unobtainable is the sheer expense of new clothes, new furniture, pretty lingerie and gracious housewares. The stuff an elegant woman would like to have is simply beyond her means. While she can certainly work and have her husband take a second job, somehow that is not quite the elegant solution. Plus, the elegant woman is looking for quality and timelessness – she has her own style and is interested in fashion only for inspiration.
The solution? Vintage. From underpinnings (yes, 50’s girdles are fabulous, much more comfortable than Spanx and they come with the hardware to hold up your hose) to china, vintage is chic, well made and your dollar goes ten times as far. Plus, and this is simply a bonus – you can’t buy vintage at the mall. Which means there is no reason to ever go to the mall.
Imagine a days shopping: six lovely crystal burgundy glasses, two silk scarves, a couple of kids coats and two Ports wool, lined, skirts – retail $500-700; vintage, $50.00. With a 10:1 price advantage, the lady of the house is able to buy pretty things without a second’s hesitation.
Just as importantly, vintage means quality. The seams are finished, the metal is thick, the crystal and china are thin and perfectly turned. One rule at our house is that there is not a piece of particle board anywhere. Why bother when solid wood is, literally, given away on Craigslist. Another rule, not quite so absolute, is buy American, Canadian, English, French – not Chinese. Which, in the nature of things, means very little in our house is post 1980.
For the lady of the house the focus on vintage means she can have a wardrobe in depth. When you are paying $5-10 a skirt, you can afford to own 30+. You can collect 100 year old Limoges china and actually use it.
If you are in the process of recreating a bygone era, with a few interesting twists, it makes a lot of sense to be surrounded with the fashion, housewares and style of that era. Beautiful, well made objects are as timeless as they are elegant.