Vintage Swap: New Life for Old Clothes

Vintage Swap: New Life for Old Clothes

No matter how amazing a piece of clothing is, sometimes it just isn’t right for you. If you’re anything like me, you probably have tons of items of clothing that don’t fit right, or aren’t quite your color, or that you bought even though you knew that they weren’t right for you because you simply couldn’t bear to leave them hanging on the rack at a thrift store, or laying on a table amongst the stained t-shirts and shapeless swimwear at a neighborhood yard sale. When you have more useful clothing than you know what to do with, and don’t have the heart to donate it or (heaven forbid!) throw it away, you are a perfect candidate for a clothing swap—where you can help someone else to look amazing in a piece that is just taking up space in your closet.

When I heard about the vintage clothing swap that Cynthia Joye would be holding in Capitol Hill on Wednesday July 30th, I knew that I simply had to attend. Not only do I have a large collection of vintage clothing that doesn’t quite suit me, I also love to meet other vintage enthusiasts and to learn what it is that they love about vintage. So, I baked up a pan of brownies, packed up a box of vintage gear and headed on over to Cynthia’s shindig—where the punch was cold, the snacks were right out of 50s era home ec manuals and many of the attendees were dressed to the nines in fabulous vintage wear.

Between eating deliciously mod mini sandwiches, digging through amazing vintage purses, and eagerly trying on vintage shoes and dresses, some of Cynthia’s guests were kind enough to share with me what appealed to them about the idea of attending a vintage clothing swap.

Denver native Laureen, who brought a portion of her exquisite vintage purses to share, explained that she has been wearing vintage “since about 1980” and that she was drawn to the social aspect of attending a swap: “It’s really fun to be around other people who appreciate the same eras that I do and kind of see what other people have and what other people’s tastes are.”

Pin-up model and vintage collector Stefane Jaspering told me that she was excited about attending the swap because she loved “the idea that people who have the same interests and the same love for this kind of thing can come together, talk, make fast friends and enjoy this. It’s rare to find people who adore this as much as we all do, I’m sure.”

Jaspering goes on to explain that what she considers to be the somewhat stale state of modern fashion causes her to turn to vintage styles instead: “Fashion now… it just seems that they’ve run out of ideas, kind of--- it’s the same thing. You watch the runway and it just seems to be so redundant and-and crazy but not innovative or exciting. And then when you go back to vintage you go back to real sexy and real classic.”

Sisters Nanna and Susan, whose shared passion for vintage clothing showed in their gleeful perusing of the vintage and retro filled racks of clothing, were especially enthusiastic about the way that vintage clothing flatters a woman’s figure. Nanna noted that “the cut of vintage clothing really accentuates, like, an hourglass figure of a woman and brings out their beauty without being slutty. A lot of modern clothes, I think, accentuate things in a way that puts it out there too much.” Susan explained that she feels “that vintage clothes come from an era when women were just more elegant. They come from a time when women were women, not that we had our role in society, but it was good to look feminine and it was considered beautiful to look feminine.”

Sarafina, who has a “costume room” in her apartment, loves vintage “because of the history of it. Just the mystery of wondering who wore it before me, where it’s been, who owned it. So, I was just really interested to meet others who have that fascination as well.”

Joye was so inspired by the response to her idea and the enthusiasm of her guests that she is considering holding more swaps very soon. We even talked about holding swaps that were just devoted to vintage accessories or housewares. Space restrictions could become an issue so Joye is on the hunt for a location where even more vintage enthusiasts can come together, share their love of vintage clothes, and enjoy some seriously hip treats. I’ll certainly let you all know when she finds a spot for her next swap. Until then, take a look in your closet, your dresser, and even your storage space. I bet you have a few fun pieces you’d like to trade in for an exquisite new gem—and I’d guess that someone out there would love to give your old clothes a new home.

-- TaRosa Jacobs

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