How To Shop Vintage Like A Pro

We got the lowdown from WilliamVintage's William Blanks-Blaney

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With fast fashion quite literally at our fingertips 24-7, it's easy to overlook vintage. In fact, it's the perfect way to inject individuality into your wardrobe - just take Kate Moss, a keen vintage hunter when it comes to evening wear, as the perfect example.

We caught up with William Blanks-Blaney, founder of Marylebone vintage store WilliamVintage, to find out everything you need to know. 

Head to williamvintage.com to snap up his expertly-sourced pieces (hint: you'll want to buy everything).

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How old does something have to be to be called vintage?

I think it's very subjective but the market is increasing in size. Previously my cut-off point has been the Seventies but over the last year/18 months, I've been falling back in love with that late-Eighties, early-Nineties period.

I think that Nineties moment is really relevant right now - that magic of early Nineties Saint Laurent or Versace, that quite hard embellishment, just as much as right now that we're seeing kind of a folk revival, we're equally seeing much more brittle glamour at the same time, which I think that really picks up on. I'm noticing that it's not just women that want those pieces, it's major collections and major museums.

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Amal Clooney wearing a 1981 Yves Saint Laurent dress from WilliamVintage

You can find vintage pretty much anywhere...

I always think it's a bit like being a treasure hunter, you never know because dresses travel very easily. It's not like a 10-foot painting or a 15-foot sideboard, women forget about dresses in the back of their wardrobes, you can give them to your best friend, you can bequeath them to a granddaughter. They can be moved in a carrier bag! So you can find the most extraordinary things in the most unlikely places.

What to buy now that will be golden vintage one day...

First and foremost, it's got to be something that you like - don't just think you can kind of play a poker game. And secondly it tends to be pieces that have a really immediate signature.

British fashion hasn't been this strong for at least 30 years. Mary Katrantzou is superb, Erdem is really, really so strong, and also Simone Rocha, her pieces have a romanticism you can spot a mile away. I've always loved the darkness Pugh too.

They have each have their own approach to clothing and that tends to be, in vintage certainly, what stands the test of time. When you see somebody who's working with a real certainty about what they're doing, that's the key.

Kate Moss wearing vintage

Vintage really is a great investment...

Good quality vintage clothing has been outperforming the wine market for the last 12 months. So when people often use that throwaway phrase of investing in your wardrobe, it's absolutely the case for vintage. It's increasing between 20 and 25 per cent per year.

People are realising the beauty and the magic of really fine clothing. Just as now when we're used to the super brands, when all manner of different companies can be owned by one much larger company, if you're buying a piece of Yves Saint Laurent, if you're buying a Chanel cocktail dress that was designed by Coco, that has a real magic to it.

For me it always reminds me that it's the heart of these super-brands, they all started with one creative voice, with one artist that had a real message to send out, so getting something from that period is really exciting.

But don't worry too much about the label...

If we get somebody who comes in and says "I need a great dress for work" I might show them a haute couture dress by Dior, the Marc Bohan period, mid-1960's chic, timeless but equally I might also present them with a shift dress that's under £200. And that might not have a label in it anymore but it's just a really fantastic dress that's still got lots of life left in it.

Kate Upton wearing a 1955 Ceil Chapman Dance dress from WilliamVintage

The most sought-after vintage pieces are...

Things I suppose that always catch the eye, that we always get request for, is 1960s Courreges, he really defined fashion as we know it, in terms of silhouettes; Geoffery Beene, again from the 60s for much the same reasons. Chanel, although we carry very little Chanel because I want to only focus on the pieces when it was Gabrielle, and so many people carry Chanel which I think they charge too much money for, so we just focus on the special pieces with that. Saint Laurent from any period and our most recent designer, I'm an enormous, enormous fan of Alexander McQueen so really good examples of McQueen are always very hotly pursued.

If you're a vintage virgin you should buy...

Don't buy something that you suddenly realise in order to make it work you have to buy a new pair of shoes, a new bag, and change your hair colour.

I often think that the best way into vintage if you haven't done it before is get something like a really great coat. Because you can put it with something like your favourite jeans at the weekend, you can put it on top of what you wear to work during the week, and it's a very hard-wearing piece of clothing.

Don't make your first ever piece of vintage a whisper thin silk chiffon dress because they're incredibly delicate, it might stick at the back of the wardrobe and you're probably terrified of it, if you haven't encountered vintage before. 

The best way to wear vintage...

Mix it. I love vintage but I love contemporary too, that's why our ethos is about how to wear vintage is to mix it with contemporary.

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