Top tips for vintage shopping with Retold Vintage
“I felt strongly after working for a fast fashion company that the relationship we have with our clothes needed to change, I craved clothing that felt special and unique and I was becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impact the industry was having at the same time”
We came across Retold Vintage via Instagram last year and were blown away by founder Clare’s impeccable taste and collection of classic, tailored pieces. Buying vintage and second-hand is a really affordable way to shop more ethically, although can be intimidating if you don’t know where to start. So, we decided to get Clare’s top tips, as well as finding out what sparked her love affair with second-hand and why she set up Retold Vintage.
How did you first get into vintage?
My love of vintage clothes came from my sister and I raiding my grandmothers dressing up box when we were young. It was full of the most beautiful old dresses and beaded bags she no longer used and I was just in love with them all, they were like pieces of treasure. If we were well behaved she'd sometimes even let us try on her 1950's and 1960's party gowns which I just remember being the most beautiful and decadent things i had ever seen. Over the years I've continued to crave finding my own treasure and with vintage what you get is just that. Each piece is truly unique and has a story. When I visit vintage stores here or overseas they are like a looking glass into a city, the racks of clothes can say so much about the people and its history. It’s just magic.
When and why did you decide to set up Retold Vintage?
Retold launched in March 2018 so it’s almost a year old! Up to that point I had been working for Topshop as part of their visual and creative team. I had spent 15 amazing years with them but felt very much I wanted a new challenge and I was at a stage in my career where I was re-evaluating what was important to me.
I felt strongly after working for a fast fashion company that the relationship we have with our clothes needed to change, I craved clothing that felt special and unique and I was becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impact the industry was having at the same time. So I had the idea of using my love of vintage to offer people who especially love that modern aesthetic (me included) an alternative shopping experience and at the same time use Retold as a platform to highlight sustainable issues and benefits of second-hand shopping. If by providing beautiful garments, I can get people to buy even just one less item new then that’s a small step in the right direction.
Where do you source your pieces, and what do you look for?
I love to travel and source overseas as well as in the UK and will happily spend hours scouring charity shops, estate sales and antique markets. If you visit my website you will see I have a clear aesthetic, I love tailoring, natural fabrics such as silks, cashmere, linen and timeless shapes like the classic blazer, the high-waisted trouser and double breasted coat. I look for special details whether it be a jacquard print or a statement sleeve and my favourite piece to source is a co-ord. I just find it amazing these sets stay together after all this time! I jump between the eras and love the eclectic mix that brings, so you may find an 80’s Escada blazer on the website one day and a 1940’s Corde bag the next. I unashamedly love neutrals and I have never been one for loud prints.
Best vintage find?
My favourite personal find has to be a vintage full length coat from Max Mara. It’s in the classic max mara brown we all know and love, in a beautiful soft / furry alpaca wool and has a hood which can be rare to find. I found it on my birthday at a vintage market in Rome. It was a beautiful day all round. For Retold it was a 1980's canary yellow silk co-ord from Kenzo. A wrap style blouse with a high waisted full skirt. Such an amazing and beautiful piece. I hope one day it comes back to me.
What about the piece that got away?
A pastel pink 80's wool suit. I um'd and ahh'd about it as the shape of the skirt wasn't quite right and I left it behind! I still think about it now…
Top tips for novice thrifters or those who feel daunted by the idea of second-hand clothes?
Start off small by introducing a few pieces into your wardrobe at a time. You can’t go wrong with a beautiful silk shirt with your favourite jeans (such a classic look) or a wool blazer over a slip dress for example is a great way of mixing modern with vintage
Definitely don't miss out the men's rails. If like me you are a sucker for a slightly oversized look then they are a gold mine for knits, blazers and shirts
Have a plan. Sometimes vintage stores can feel over-whelming due to the volume of product so go in with a loose idea of what you are after whether it be a dress / jacket or even just a colour or print. This will give you somewhere to start
Avoid those Kilo sales! I find them frantic and impulsive. Everything shopping for vintage should not be
Try things on and have fun doing it! Vintage sizes and garment shapes are so different to modern day so don't be put off by the size on the original label
Check everything before you buy. Look for stains, rips, broken zips, but don’t be put off by that typical musty smell. A trip to the dry cleans does wonders for freshening up premium fabrics and I swear by soaking vintage in a water / clear vinegar solution for about 20mins, rinsing and then letting it dry naturally. It honestly works every time
Can you tell us about a few favourite pieces in your wardrobe?
A 1970's camel cashmere roll neck from Jaeger that I sourced last year. Such a wardrobe staple – it’s been on rotation for me all winter
My Martes Frisnes Marlow earrings that were a present from my fiance about 3 years ago. Vintage inspired moon and star motifs. Perfect
A vintage 90's Saks 5th Avenue linen blazer, off white, long-line and fits like a glove. I can’t wait to wear this summer
Mijeong Park white trousers. You will see these featured in A LOT of my Retold photos as they are such a great styling piece. Slouchy and super cool they are smart but make every outfit feel effortless and relaxed which I like. They were a big investment piece but already I’ve worn them to pieces
Favourite vintage haunts? In London and beyond?
House of Vintage - beautifully curated selection of classic vintage in East London
London has an abundance of fairs and markets that can satisfy all tastes and budgets like Frock Me in Clerkenwell. Time Out is a good reference for all the latest listings
Brighton is full of vintage stores and i especially love Wolf and Gypsy. Laura has curated a cool and contemporary mix of vintage and sustainable brands
Rome – visit the Monti district for an abundance of vintage Italian treats
Top tip – if you are visiting a new city, speak to the locals! They can always give you insider tips on markets and stores that may not be well advertised in guide books.
What does the future hold for Retold Vintage?
I’m a bricks and mortar retailer at heart so would love to see Retold have its own concept store which I would design and curate in a way that really challenges the current experience of vintage shopping. I want to continue to collaborate with other stores, sustainable brands and stylists and hopefully one day create Retold menswear and homewares! Watch this space!
Discover Retold Vintage here