Vintage fairs are amongst my favourite things. As well as great fun, they’re an opportunity to score a bargain and get a glimpse into the past. A thrifty lolita will know how to make the best out of her local vintage fair, but for those going to your first, here are some things to look out for when you go. Disclaimer: as vintage fashion is essentially used clothing, be sure to carefully inspect items. You are buying them in as-is condition and must be comfortable with any damage there may be.
Blouses and tops are amongst the most common loliable thing you can find at vintage fairs. As long as the fair is predominantly about clothing rather than furniture, there will be plenty of sellers with blouses in all price brackets. Styles suitable for lolita fashion will feature all the way up to the 1980s! High collar blouses are one of the most common, as they were popular in the 1970s, which is recent enough for most clothing to survive. But also look for Peter Pan collar and even some pussybow blouses that might work. Check for details like frills, ruffles, pintucks and embroidery. These details make vintage blouses work with the elaborate fashion that is lolita. After this all you need is to find something within your size, price and style range.
Without a doubt the easiest thing to pick up – and that’s anywhere selling vintage and antique fashion. Whether you’re after a ring, a necklace, a brooch, some earrings or bracelets, you’re bound to find something. Vintage tends to fit better with classic and gothic styles, but don’t give up if you mainly wear sweet! Many vintage pieces, especially from around the 1960s, come in colourful, quirky shapes that could work with sweet. Also vintage fairs tend to attract other alternative fashions and indie designers catering to a wider range of styles. There may be vendors selling handmade pastel pieces or cutesy cupcake jewellery. With this variety, whether your budget is true pocket money or full-time executive director, there’s definitely something there for you!
While you may have to dig through these a little bit, the finds are usually more than worth it. The 1980s jumpers tend to flood the knitwear sections, but dig deeper. You may find a cute 1950s or 1940s bolero or shrug that will complement your outfit. Those tend to be crop length, hitting your natural waist or slightly above it, which works well with lolita fashion. The downside is that the original 1940s-1950s pieces may cost more, due to their age and desirability. To the rescue come vintage reproduction companies, such as Hell Bunny, who also attend at vintage fairs. At roughly £30 per cardigan they’re still not the cheapest option, but you are getting a brand new unworn item. They often offer colours that are less common in lolita (teal or orange anyone?) and cater to plus size beauties too.
From bags and shoes to hats, gloves and hairpins, there are some fantastic accessories at vintage fairs. Be clear about what is it you’re after and what would work best with your particular style of lolita. Not every accessory will work with your dress and indeed not everything there will be loliable. Sometimes you may need a bit of imagination. For example, an unattractive hat may turn into a Rococo beauty with some craft skills and decoration. Not everything you get at vintage fairs has to be ready to wear, so keep that in mind when browsing. Other things, like bags or shoes, are easy to incorporate as long as they’re the right colour and have enough detail.
This one is particularly for the lifestylers out there, but anyone can add some vintage glam and finesse to their life. You don’t have to buy furniture to add aesthetic to your everyday space. There will be vendors selling both original vintage pieces and unique repurposed ones. If a desk lamp made out of saucers and a teacup isn’t fit for a lolita aesthetic, then I don’t know what is! You can also pick up more practical bits, like compact mirrors, to spritz up the contents of your handbag without breaking the budget. This might also be a great time to look at tableware if you’re planning on hosting a tea party. And if you’re very crafty, simply go there for inspiration and then get things to recreate some items yourself!
If you’re really not after anything at all or can’t find anything that you would like in your price range – there’s bound to be a stall selling tea and cake. Because what is a vintage fair without a chance to sit down and indulge in a Victoria sponge or lemon drizzle after you’ve knackered yourself out shopping? If your vintage fair doesn’t have a cake stall, then I’m sorry to inform you that your vintage fair is terrible.
Have you been to any vintage fairs? Scored any great finds at one or in an antique shop? What do you look out for when shopping at places like this? Or do you not even look at loliable things and just enjoy a moment of vintage life?