Welcome to the Secret Vintage.
My name is Lav and this is my little corner of the internet. Okay, maybe it’s not but I’ll work with what I have. By now you have gathered that I like (actually, love) vintage clothing. I own a wardrobe filled with vintage clothes, hats, jewellery and bags. I lived abroad for several years and had the wonderful advantage of digging through foreign cupboards and second-hand stores to find that gem of a darling. Upon my recent return to South Africa – I was slightly worried that I won’t find any vintage attire. However, after stalking the Facebook page of Time And A Few Moths, I found many many many vintage stores in South Africa. I decided to put together this website (partly for my own reference) and mostly to promote these South African vintage stores on a bigger scale. I believe that buying pre-loved/vintage clothing is an art. It is most certainly not for everyone. Being able to spot the difference between decade, design, fabric and detail is something special and that is what vintage is all about. It is indeed ‘that something special’. It is far too easy to go to a retail store, grab a mass produced dress of the rack and take it home. After a few laundry washes that mass produced dress loses colour, a stitch or two comes undone and of course it becomes passé after a few months. Vintage clothing on the other hand exudes timeless chic, the fabric holds together and women of the past took great care of their garments. Perhaps vintage clothing and accessories has something to do with the notion “less is more”.
Last but not least, thank you for reading and do stop by for more vintage news, tutorials, notices and of course style.
p.s I blog on vintageshopper.com too!
PANTS, TROUSERS, SHORTS
I was in the library looking for Nelson Mandela’s biography (actually I was sneakily snooping the magazine section for old Vogue/Elle/Marie Claire magazines) but instead I found a pile of Woolworth’s catalogues. I was flipping through the pages and noticed Candice Swanepoel’s shorts collection for Woolworths. In all honesty, those shorts look that they could have been designed for my 10 year old niece and what is so exclusive about them, again? Oh, that’s right. I forgot, it’s Woolworths. Classy.
So, I’m not dissing Woolworths or Candice Swanepoel – I just want to educate women on the history of ‘pants’. Women prior to us have fought very very very hard to liberate our bodies. There are many women who still have to fight in order to wear ‘pants’ in their societies and cultures. It’s such a shame to think we take all of this for granted. Admit it, you did not question the history of ‘pants’ as you pulled it over your legs this morning.
At the beginning of the twentieth century there were attempts to wear pantsuits by brave women. However, they were mocked, ridiculed and rejected by men and women alike.
(Above: The first woman to wear a version of “pants”, Elizabeth Smith Miller in 1851.)
During the first World War a lot of adjustments to life were made. It was not a question of fashion but rather a necessity that women had to wear pants in order to fulfil new roles/tasks in factories and work areas. These early versions of pants were long and straight (and in boring colours). Remember pants were still taboo to wear during festivals and other public occasions. After the first World War, smart tuxedo pantsuits crept it’s way into popularity for women to wear. Although, it was still seen as socially unacceptable. In 1931, the beautiful actress Marlene Dietrich was asked to leave the city of Paris as the Mayor did not like the fact that she dared to wear a man’s suit in public. (Such scandal!)
It wasn’t until 1966 that Yves Saint Laurent (heard of him?) designed the first tailored lady tuxedo. It was still seen as “distasteful” for women to wear pants and so any clientèle (no doubt these were famous bourgeois) that did wear Yves Saint Laurent’s creation were promptly barred from restaurants, hotels and other public spaces.
While the 1960’s saw rise of the mini-skirt, it was the 1970’s that sold the world ‘pants’. The 1970’s were about ‘anti-fashion’ and that’s probably why it stuck. The 1970’s placed emphasis on ease and comfort (something haute couture is not) therefore leading the path to freedom. In 1971, a man named Levi Strauss (heard of him?) won the American fashion industry’s Coty Award for his blue jeans. Denim jeans became extremely popular and everyone including their mother owned a pair. Jeans were allowed into academic institutes, certain workplaces and public spaces. In fact, jeans became a staple and the more faded, sandblasted or worn-out the garment was, the better. Unisex clothing became all the norm. Thanks to those “dirty” Hippies and the Glam Rock kids, colour was in and colourful pants, short short jeans and wide-leg trousers of different fabrics became a way of life. That gave birth to the ‘pants’ we know of today.
There you have it. There is some vintage to collect in there.
(source: Fashion by Charlotte Seeling)
A PLACE TO SHOP
Facebook is a disease but hey, you knew that anyway. While going through my ‘feed’ I came across, A Place To Shop, a South African online store that sells hand selected goods. I know online shopping is huge abroad and I’m very happy that it’s gaining popularity in South Africa. However, what makes A Place To Shop stand above it’s competitors is
a) the delightfully selected goods ranging from vintage to modern
b) the ease of it’s website browsing/shopping (because let’s face it, Telkom does nobody favours)
c) the minimal fuss of secure payment method/s
d) reasonable prices
Besides the above, the items are a treat. Here are some of my favourite vintage picks from A Place To Shop or http://www.aplacetoshop.co.za
OH SANDRA! The Hollywood actress Sandra Bullock looked ever so elegant in her taupe palette at the 14th annual AFI Awards luncheon. A simple tan top paired with a brocade skirt. Brocade is beautiful, rich and completely vintage.
According to the Vintage Fashion Guild brocade is, “an elaborately-patterned fabric woven on a jacquard loom since the early 19th century, brocade uses colour, texture or both to emphasize its figures and ground may be of contrasting weaves such as satin on plain weave. Brocade is not considered reversible; the reverse is often distinguished by long floating threats.”
The origins of brocade lie in Asia but it took the Italian Renaissance to give brocade an exuberant reputation of ultimate luxury in the Western world. From what information I gather; the high volumes of silk being produced during the Italian Renaissance made way for more advanced weaving structures that ultimately led to the jacquard loom. From there the extravagant fabric (satin brocade) became the prime of fashion. If you have ever observed the motifs of brocade fabrics you will see the Chinese, Indian and Persian architectural influences. It’s quite a work of art and that’s what makes it so rich and stunning.
Most nobles, high society and the tier of wealthy people owned brocaded goods from clothing to wall hanging ornaments. In the modern world, brocade is hard to come by and most goods featuring ‘true brocade’ are either passed down in families or bought at high-end stores.
(Below) Lehza Vintage stocks a brocade bolero style jacket in a blood red.
(Below) Pepper Vintage stocks a brocade crop top.
DESIGNER PURCHASE – VIRGINIE PARIS
NOT MUCH is known about designer Virginie, other than the fact that she sold her boutique style clothing in Paris and that she was rather infamous for leaving her name printed on fabric. (See below)
An advanced Google search led me to believe that Virginie made most of her clothing from printed silk fabric. There are a lot of vintage sellers who say that her earlier pieces were designed for the prominent 1920’s flapper culture. Nonetheless, I purchased this authentic Virginie Paris dress from Lehza Vintage. It has a soft silky feeling to it and the colour is sensational. I never thought lemon yellow would look so good. I would love to know the history of this dress!
Has anyone looked up the history of their own vintage pieces? Let us know at the Secret Vintage.
I love lingerie. I love looking at lingerie. I love buying lingerie. I love wearing fabulous lingerie. Clearly, I like the word too. I believe that you should always look fabulous underneath (no matter what) and I also believe that good lingerie is like good make-up foundation. Remember ladies, a proper sized brassiere does your cleavage justice!
However, I love history too. When Time And A Few Moths told me that she had a beautiful vintage brassiere for sale, I nabbed the chance to buy it. Here is a picture:
A little research into the Dakapo brassiere got me all fired up. Dakapo was a brand that made brassieres in World War Two. Something tells me that the name suggests it’s a German company but according to an Ebay seller, Dakapo products were manufactured in France. Satin was the fabric of choice and the brassieres were classified as ‘Art Deco’. Also the Ebay seller was counting on a R500 – 00 sale. I got my authentic vintage brassiere piece at 1/4 of that price. Absolute winning!
This afternoon I went to my local book store. I like to collect certain editions of Jane Austen works as well as collect books on heavy metal music. I saw a book on etiquette during the 1940’s and thought it would be an interesting read. At home I opened the book and it had the previous owner’s stamp on it. It reads: Molly Ewing, Glen Athol Estates, P/Bag 25, Banket, South Rhodesia.
As a lover of history, a few Google clicks got me a fair bit of information. Molly Ewing owned a farm in Banket town, Zimbabwe. Ewing was born in Southern Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) and died in 1980. And here is the best part. The book itself, “Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage” by Emily Post (seventeeth Edition 1947) is currently bidding at R1077.98 on Ebay. Even the Emily Post foundation is going strong. Oh, and I bought the book for R30.00
I don’t think a lot of you are going to like what I have to say here but seeing as this is my part of the internet – I’ll share my opinions.
Miss Marilyn Monroe, as beautiful as she was, was a very sick woman. She suffered from depression. I know Marilyn Monroe taught women a lot through her sense of style, her sensuality and her lush demeanour but she did not teach women to truly love themselves.
Loving oneself isn’t a vintage topic or a modern topic. It should not even be a topic. It should be common practice like brushing your teeth. You might not like brushing your teeth but you do it because you must and you don’t think (much) about it. I have met so many (wo)men who cannot love themselves or rather don’t think they deserve any self-love. I too struggled with the concept of self-love for years. Perhaps, it’s the media or the culture we find our lives lingering in that represent a distorted view of self-love. With all the countless number of ‘selfies’, ‘belfies’, ‘profile pictures’, ‘insta-share’ you would think everyone and their Grandmother is quite content with the way they look and with their emotions intact.
Depression, suicide rate, and eating disorders are on the rise. We see it, we read about it, we hear about it and occasionally we feel it.
Not loving yourself is a crime.
It’s far more serious than not paying your taxes. If you cannot appreciate your self-worth – who will? If you just answered *insert name here*. You are wrong and you need help NOW!
I’m no Guru, no High Priestess nor am I a Psychologist. I cannot tell you how to love yourself nor can I teach you to do so. There are many self-help books, psychologists, psychiatrists, life coaches and special seminars out there but they too cannot tell you exactly how to love yourself. Not even Dr. Phil or Oprah can do that. The only person who has all the power in this world to teach you how to truly love yourself is YOU. It all starts with YOU, the person reading this blog. Everything else is just advice on the side like vinegar on your slap chips – take it or leave it.
If you truly love yourself then you would not hurt yourself – think about it. Oh, Marilyn!
OLD vs NEW: IS IT WORTH IT?
I really liked this dress that I saw at one of the vintage online stores and was ready to purchase it. My Mom looked at the price tag and said, “Is that not expensive for second-hand clothing? You can get a brand new dress for that price.”
I hear a lot of people saying that about vintage/second-hand/pre-loved/thrift clothing. I have to admit, shopping vintage is an art and it is most certainly not for everyone.
Here, I put the commercial shopping brands to the test. Legit, Forever New, Woolworths, Foschini and Miladys against the South African vintage shops. It is old versus new…. is it worth it? I’d love to read your feedback!
Bejewelled shorts R139.00
Paris Column Maxi Dress R1499.00
Ruch Pleat black dress R550.00
Leather sleeveless biker jacket R460.00
Men long sleeve shirt R99.99
Kaftan cover-up R199.99
VINTAGE ETIQUETTE LESSON
*These are the direct words of Emily Post from her 1947 book Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage*
The Clothes of a Lady
FOLLOWING FASHION HAS LITTLE IN COMMON WITH BEAUTY
Fashion has the power to appear temporarily in the guise of beauty, though it is the antithesis of beauty as often as not. If you doubt it, look at old fashion plates. Even the woman of beautiful taste succumbs occasionally to the epidemics of fashion, but she is more immune than most. All women who have any clothes sense whatever know more or less the type of things that are their style – unless they have such an attack of “fashionitis” that they are irresponsibly delirious. There is one unchanging principle which must be followed by everyone who would be well-dressed- SUITABILITY.
Vulgar clothes are those which, no matter what the fashion of the moment may b, are always too elaborate for the occasion; they are too exaggerated in style, or have accessories out of harmony with the dress and the wearer.
A person may be stared at for any one of many reasons. A woman may be stared at because she is ill-behaved, or because she looks like a freak of the circus or because she is enchanting to behold. If you are stared at, what sort of stare do you usually meet? Is it contemptuous or curious or is it admiring? If the first, change your behaviour; if the second, wear more conventional clothes and make-up; if the third, you may be left as you are. But be sure of your diagnosis.
By Lauren Ellwood
Curious Vintage was born out of a love for all things unique and old-worldly.
When I was 14, I started noticing that almost every time I left the house in my favourite Mr Price dress I’d no doubt run into someone else wearing the same one. I’d walk through the mall and see other people wearing items I owned myself and this irked me to no end. That was when I discovered vintage and realised you could wear clothes that were almost always one of a kind and had a history all their own.
The fact that these clothes are no longer being mass produced and were manufactured before I was even born is the best part. I’ve always been a history nut and I find that my love of vintage clothes is just an extension of that. I have a large collection of purses from the 1920s to 1950s that I’ll never part with, there’s just so much history tied up in them. Then again, I also have a shelf of books detailing the life of Queen Victoria but maybe I just like to collect odd things.
After discovering vintage I collected items for the next five years without any intention of selling them, these were all pieces for me to wear personally. It wasn’t until April 2013 when I ran out of space (and money) that I decided it was time to set up a little shop. I sold things at markets for a few months and then in December of last year I started setting up my own online shop.
Vintage clothing has become huge in South Africa and I think it’s because we’re slowly moving towards the mindset that standing out is much better than fitting in and what better way to achieve that than wearing clothes that no one else around you has.
The Secret Vintage’s top 3 picks from Curious Vintage:
This Hermes inspired vintage silk scarf
Click here for more details
Stunning turquoise leading lady dress
Click here for more details
Gorgeous vintage chiffon evening jacket with lace and sequins
Click here for details
Thank you to Curious Vintage for being our guest writer this week. Remember to click on the highlighted pink links for more information about Curious Vintage.
I recently closed the final chapter of Jane Raphaely’s memoir Unedited. For those of you who don’t know, Jane Raphaely is the founder and editor behind South Africa’s first glossy magazines namely Fair Lady and risqué Cosmopolitan.
The auto-biography is splendid. It details Raphaely’s fun, brave and independent life from 1937 till current. However, it wasn’t so much the story that tipped me – it was the “acknowledgement” chapter. At the end of Unedited, Raphaely gives praise to those who have helped her finish the book. It was this that caught me “…editor and chief torturer disputed the book’s claim to be a memoir. ‘If this is what it is meant to be,’ she said, ‘why are you telling everyone else’s story and not your own?’…”
Exactly. Why are you telling everyone else’s story and not your own?
I was the odd kid at school. The weirdo. The girl who isn’t cookie cutter pretty. I had good days but mostly I had sh*t days. My goal in high school was to fit in and be a part of a crowd – any crowd – preferably the cool crowd. I desperately wanted to be like them and not who I am.
Not being who you are is detrimental. It leaves you feeling empty and uncertain. All those quirks, oddball talents and imperfections became a trademark for celebrities. Julia Roberts wouldn’t be Julia Roberts without her broad mouth. Marilyn Monroe’s infamous mole spawned a generation of sexy. Audrey Hepburn’s doe eyes became instantly recognizable. Fran Drescher’s husky voice made her bank balance grow and let me not even start on Oprah “the talker” who gave a lot of ordinary women a soapbox to stand on. From feminism to political power – they all started with innate ideas that grew from people being true to themselves and telling their stories.
It took many years, several workshops, faith and a full length mirror to learn how to work with my quirks and imperfections just so I can tell my story.
Have you told your story? Are you living your life? Are you being yourself?
If not, here is a friendly reminder to do it.
TIME AND A FEW MOTHS
Lisa Zaaiman is the Lady behind Time And A Few Moths, a Cape Town based vintage business. I first came across Lisa a few months back when I was searching for one of a kind vintage items. Not only does Time And A few Moths sell amazing goods but Lisa is always a pleasure to deal with. Her warm positive character wraps around you every time even in an email. Here at Secret Vintage, I do believe that supporting a local business is important but I also believe in supporting the business owners and welcoming their philosophies about life. So, take a few words from Lisa’s pages of wisdom.
Hi Lisa! Please do share some background about your vintage store Time And A Few Moths.
I started selling my own vintage collection on Bidorbuy in 2007 and it grew from there. I started out with 4 regular customers and I now have over 1000. I sell from home, online and at a store in the Cape Town CBD.
Time And A Few Moths is a growing name both locally and internationally. How do you feel about this vintage journey so far?
I’m very grateful and thankful. A lot of it has to do with the fact that I am so active on social media and that I am responsible for all the marketing and advertising campaigns so I make sure that the business grows every single month, even if it’s with a small percent.
Time And A Few Moths recently hosted a “Strictly Vintage Swop” party. Tell us, how did it go?
It was our first one and we kept it small and intimate but those who attended all suggested another one. Although there were only a few people, we all had one thing in common – our love and appreciation for vintage
What is your favourite personal vintage piece and why?
My grandmother’s marcasite filigree brooch. It’s the only thing I have of hers and I have never met her. My mom gave it to me when I was little.
What has been the strangest vintage piece that you have come across?
I sourced a garment once which was from the 70’s but we couldn’t make out whether it was a dress or a pants. It looked like both and it had straps and we couldn’t figure out where they went or how they were supposed to be tied.
Vintage and thrift stores have exploded all over in South Africa even the name ‘vintage’ is being thrown around more so than usual. Do you think this is a good or bad thing and why?
I suppose it’s a bit of both. The bad part is that anyone and everyone thinks that they can post a few pics of secondhand items on Facebook and viola!- they now have a store. They think it’s an easy way to make cash. The good thing is that more and more people are becoming aware of the importance of wearing recycled clothing and are keen to buy one-of-a-kind pieces.
Time And A Few Moths, mostly on your behalf, is involved in a lot of charitable organizations. Why do you think it is so important to give back or pay-it-forward especially in South Africa?
I think a lot of people don’t see whats happening around them because they are so busy with their own lives. Until you actually take a step back and really open your eyes in your community, then you will see how many people are in a crisis. Help those in your own neighbourhood. Find something that will really benefit them. For example – a toothbrush, facecloth, soap and toothpaste, can change a person’s life. Its important to try and uplift people because one day you might be in the same boat. That is exactly what happened to me.
Apart from being obsessed with your dogs, you also mention that you have Fibromyalgia. Tell us more about this condition and how do you find the strength to overcome it?
Fibromyalgia is an auto immune disease that affects your muscles and various other parts of your body. It is mostly associated with chronic, widespread pain and fatigue. There is no cure and it is not recognised as an illness in South Africa. I have had it for 8 years now. I can only plan my day when I wake up in the morning. So depending on how tired or sore I am, I might need to cancel appointments. On days where I feel great, I will play catch up and work till late at night. My strength comes from God. My faith is very strong.
I admire your strength of empowerment and I believe that women should feel empowered. What advice would you give to women when it comes to self-love?
It’s not easy, trust me but one thing I believe is that you must never give your power away to someone else, a man or anyone else. Be your own person and live your life the way YOU want to. Fulfil your own dreams. That in turn makes you powerful.
Would you like to add anything?
Thank you for interviewing me. I hope that I can inspire someone through this article.
Thank you so much for doing this interview, Lisa.