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Dressing Up Vintage Hardcover – June 10, 2000
Covering 50 years of fashion history, Dressing Up Vintage examines times past and what women wore in response to them. Starting with the '40s and the somber mannish suits worn during WWII, Dressing Up Vintage takes us through the beaded cardigans of the '50s, the mod explosion of the '60s, the '70s disco and wrap-dress rage, the broad-shouldered power suits of the '80s, and ends up with an understandably short chapter on the '90s and the popularity of the grunge look and retromania.
Spying and collecting vintage wear takes the same skill and competitive edge as does collecting fine art or antiques. Author Tracy Tolkien, owner of a very successful vintage shop in London, has been honing her hunting skills for many years and shares them with us in this thoroughly researched, entertaining book. She explains why certain fashions came into being and why they are now collectible. Did you know corsets came back into style because of Dior's wasp-waisted dresses? Tolkien also gives hints on where to find the best vintage wear (there's a long list of shops in the back of the book, both American and British) and what to look for (labels, tears, staining). "One of the best, often overlooked, sources though is probably out there in your own backyard," she says, "tucked away in the darkest corners of your friends' and relatives' wardrobes." Each section is filled with examples of vintage fashions, including hats, gloves, shoes, and costume jewelry.
An interesting journey into our fashion past--great finds and faux pas all--Dressing Up Vintage could be helpful to the beginning collector and just plain fun for those who like to browse, shop, and heed the words of mini-making mogul Mary Quant: "Fashion allows you to be what you want. You can dress the part and--my God, it happens!" --Dana Van Nest
About the Author
TRACY TOLKIEN is the owner of Steinberg & Tolkien, a vintage clothing sotre in London which holds the largest collection of couture in the world and has attracted the attention of fashion designers John Galliano and Jean Paul Gaulthier, among others.
Top customer reviews
The writing is witty and wise: intelligent & informative without being patronising & it is infectious in its enthusiasm. For someone like me, with alot more interest than knowledge in vintage clothing, what I really loved about it was its accessibility and how helpful it was with information- there are handy tips on the where's and how's of vintage shopping and dressing nestling in every corner. Because of the way that it integrates socio-economic and historical detail, it even makes for good reading if you're not that interested in the clothes themselves, as it offers a rich visual history, through clothing, of the century that was. It often seems that every other book is "the definitive guide to..." but this one is the genuine article. No cheap imitation this, it offers an assured overview of vintage style and an indispensible source list of web-sites and stores that sell vintage clothing. And it is so much fun to read.
However, this book is more of the coffe table variety than a volume to be used for serious or even casual research or reference, as its text describes trends of the decades rather than a lot of sartorial details, and the photographs are more reminiscent of a fashion magazine glossy than a review of stylistic changes, decade-by-decade.
Fairly enjoyable for its visual appeal, but not very edcational, with an ineptly-researched index of vintage clothing Web sites.
By far, the index of online purveyors of vintage clothing was terrible. It substitutes sheer volume for a considered guide to vintage on the Web. The author or editor(s) seem to have just gone to a search engine like Yahoo and just listed the first matches for "vintage clothing" found.
So many of the sites listed are among the first ones on the Web, but unfortunately have hardly been updated since their inceptions. This index frequently lists third-string vintage clothing sites while omitting some really great ones that have popped up in the past couple of years. Any one putting in a couple of hours of honest searching on the Web can come up with a better list than this.
The introduction, where she states that "Basing a collection around thrift-store bargins is not only unrealistic, it can take days, weeks, literally years of your time." is the your first clue. The rest of the book is then devoted to extolling the virutes of couture and its designers. Fine for a small amount of those who can afford it, but unrealistic for the rest of the population.
Tolkien has a mere two pages to fashions of the 1940's (which she calls "simple" and "utilitarian" before moving on to the rest of the 20th century. She divides the various decades into the trends that defined them, but then lets the pictures do the work for her. Tolkien also devotes a part of the book to 90's fashion--a decade which most vintage wearers would not even consider to be "vintage" in the first place.
If you are looking for a very brief overview of late 20th century designer fashion, you might enjoy this book. If not, Amazon has plenty of other books on the subject that do a much better job.