It’s time for part two of my “Week of Fashion” blog. Last week I attended so many amazing bridal/fashion/style-related events, I just have to share them all with you! This post will be about my experience with the Boston Fashion Meetup Group – “Styling with Vintage” at the SOWA Vintage Market in Boston.
First of all, the SOWA Vintage Market is an incredible, immense space. It is the length of several city blocks, and includes over 30 vintage vendors. The exposed brick and large windows add to the charm of the space.
Stephanie Pernice is one of the owners of SOWA Vintage Market (the other owner is John Warren). “There are 30 different vendors in the SOWA Vintage Market and everyone owns all the things in each of their spaces.” The best part of SOWA Vintage Market is “you get a flavor of each ‘shop owner.’ Each nook is different from the other and every person who sells here has an identity all their own that you can see in the items they bring in to sell at the market,” says Pernice. When I arrived at the meetup event, I was immediately struck by how much vintage merchandise this market has. From coats, accessories and dresses to gorgeous furniture, this place is a dream for those of us who love shopping for vintage items.
The topic for the night was how vintage items can be used in styling for individuals, movies, photography, home and restaurants. The speakers included Bobby from Boston, Doreen Dove from The Organized Wardrobe, Stephanie Pernice (owner SOWA Vintage Market), Mike Diskin (photographer) and Erica Farthing (stylist).
Bobby from Boston has been selling vintage items since the 70’s. He is well-known in the movie industry as being the go-to-man for all vintage items. His vintage items (costumes and set-decor) have been featured in many major motion pictures, such as: Moonrise Kingdom, Shutter Island, Apollo 13, Forrest Gump, Ali, Catch Me If You Can, Aviator, as well as the hit show, Boardwalk Empire. The reason the studios love using Bobby from Boston is because none of his vintage items have been used before; he doesn’t rent them out, he sells them to the studios. This is a costume and set designers’ dream; authentic, never-been-seen-before items!
Bobby also boasts a major line-up of current designers who come in to visit and get inspired by Bobby’s vintage collection. “Many designers are inspired by vintage details. A designer from Ralph Lauren came into see our collection and fell in love with a particular smoking jacket. Next thing I know, the design-pattern from the smoking jacket ended up on the pocket of a pair of jeans in their next collection,” said Bobby. Marc Jacobs, LL Bean, and Gap are just a few other labels who visit Bobby and are “big into vintage inspiration.” So, what does Bobby from Boston say are the best reasons to shop vintage: 1. The quality of fabrics used years ago are better quality than today, so you can get a high quality item for a lot less. 2. If you know your body shape, you can most certaily flatter yourself by choosing vintage styles that look amazing and timeless. 3. In vintage shops you will get an honest opinion! Don’t be afraid to ask “how does this look?” If it isn’t for you, the person will tell you because they aren’t trying to sell, sell, sell like in the retail stores.
Next in the amazing line-up of speakers was Doreen Dove, image consultant, stylist and owner of The Organized Wardrobe. Dove has many years of experience in the fashion industry, and helps women tackle their style challenges with “skill, clarity and a sharp eye for editing,” which inevitably saves people “time, money, and wardrobe anxiety.” She has some great tips on how to “punch up your wardrobe with vintage pieces.” First, it needs to be the right fit. If you find a great vintage skirt, but it is too long, tailor it! Second, the shape of the item should flatter your body, if it doesn’t, move on, there is always another great piece waiting to be discovered. Another great tip is to start with a wardrobe basic, like a nice pair of black pants. You can add a vintage jacket or blouse. If you are afraid of buying something “pre-owned” the dry cleaner is your friend! “Fashion is supposed to be fun, we are not all supposed to look the same,” says Dove. Her best advice of the night, “shop vintage a little at a time, and be open minded. You can’t really go on the hunt for anything too specific, but you can find some great items if you are willing to pick them up along the way.”
Finally, Mike Diskin, photographer, and Erica Farthing, owner of Assembly Boston discussed how to be expert “end-users” of vintage items. As a photographer, Diskin likes to pair the modern with the vintage. He believes he would not be able to do his job as well as he does without using nostalgic pieces to help capture “that” moment. He also takes inspiration from the models he is shooting. “Some models (think Scarlett Johanson) lend themselves to a more vintage, classic look, and that works with vintage items.”
Erica Farthing started using vintage items in event-themes to make everything “feel real.” She uses SOWA as her #1 destination for sourcing vintage items for events. Whether it’s different British items, bottles from a particular time period, or a flag from 1865, Farthing knows that “it’s all in the details.” Not only is she an expert event-designer, but also restaurant stylist. Her latest work was creating a real-old-vibe for the new South Boston restaurant “Lincoln” tavern and restaurant. This new construction on West Broadway was modeled after a 1930’s restaurant with a vintage tin ceiling and lots of small details to make the restaurant look like it has been a part of the Southie landscape for many years. So, what tips can Diskin and Farthing give to photographers and wardrobe/decor stylists on using vintage items? “Less is more” and “you need to make the client picture it.” Putting too many focal points into one shot, or area of a room is just too much. Edit yourself, and give the vintage items some “alone time” with each other. If you are able to paint the picture and make the clients feel the feeling, they will be happy.
In just under an hour and a half, I learned so much amazing information on vintage styling. If you are looking to shop vintage (and if you are, you better call me!), here is a list of stores recommened by the professionals:
- SOWA Vintage Market (open Sundays 10-4pm, all-year-round)
- Bobby from Boston
- The Garment District
Remember to flatter yourself today, my loves!