A new spring title by Vivays Publishing, Wearable Vintage Fashion is written by the owners of Second Hand Rose, a vintage boutique in Worcester. Jo Waterhouse and Clare Bridge aim to provide readers with a visual reference point for any anyone interested in vintage fashion, focusing on easily attainable looks to suit a range of budgets.
All photography by Caitlin Sinclair, page spreads courtesy of Vivays Publishing
The book is helpfully divided up into fashion according to decades, using colour-coded sections that range from the 1920s to the 1980s. A one-page introduction to each decade gives context, discussing the impact of societal circumstances on fashion trends, and with some brief tips on recreating looks. For instance, the 1950s introduction covers the new youth culture and how it opened up a fashion market for a generation of young people with disposable income. It’s an approachable way of thinking about the socio-economic and practical considerations embedded in fashion.
Day and eveningwear pages in each section are filled with selected items of clothing and accessories, alongside descriptive text outlining the classic shapes and textiles from each era. ‘Get the Look’ pages are places where old candid and street photographs are used as inspiration for creating on-the-page outfits and to describe common trends.
The garments and accessories shown are incredible, with colourful, multi-textured and authentic pieces from each era featured alongside modern-day alternatives, for those that might not be able to access the real items. What lets the reading experience down however is the way garments are laid out in a collage format -without mannequins or models (or in some cases, ironing) the pieces can’t be displayed to full effect, which is a shame given how precious some of them are.
Later on in each chapter are ‘Icons’ pages, where the authors interpret a signature look from the decade, for example, Farrah Fawcett from the 1970s. While the intentions here are admirable – to easily recreate a look for a party or event – the styling and images aren’t of a high enough quality to appeal in a book format. It’s difficult to tread the line between a do-it-yourself guide and a higher-end coffee table book, but in this case the extraordinary subject matter warranted that closer attention be paid to the visual design.
More appealing are the look books, where double page spreads show the full breadth of a fashion decade including day and eveningwear. I adored the 1940s spreads in particular, with pale knitted cardigans, a sweet pink bakelite elephant brooch and an original Pendleton ‘49er’ tartan jacket.
The final part of the book is ‘Vintage Street Fashion’ where the authors document how various fashion bloggers and enthusiasts wear vintage clothing on a day-to-day basis. As with previous sections, the styling and quality of the images varies dramatically and appears visually inconsistent, but if you can ignore this, the insight into the lives of these women and their relationship with certain vintage pieces is worth the read.
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