Thanks for all of your kind words in my last post. I’m still sniffly, but I certainly feel like I’m on the up and up and was able to take just two snaps for this post.
Over the time I’ve had this blog I have gotten a lot of questions about plus-size vintage clothing. So many people complain that vintage is all tiny. And I’m here to say it’s not. While plus size vintage may be harder to come by, it isn’t non-existent. I don’t know about you, but I can flip through plenty of old photos and see some plus size gals – not everyone was tiny back then. However, since it is harder to come by, many retro loving plus size gals turn to vintage repro to fill their closets and I then get questions on which vintage repro/vintage inspired brand is the best. But that’s a bit of a hard question to answer…until now. So buckle up and get ready for discussion of vintage repro.
The truth of the matter is I rarely buy new (vintage repro or otherwise) and this is for a combination of reasons. There are a handful of items I do buy from vintage repro sites, because I can’t find very much of certain items in the vintage world, like pants for example. In all honesty I just don’t look at vintage repro sites often because I don’t want or need to. I like the thrill of the hunt. I like giving my money to a local shop. I like having unique items. I like the quality of real vintage. And I like sewing my own clothes. So this leaves me with very little experience in the vintage repro world…until now. Recently I have been lucky enough to stumble onto some vintage repro second hand and can now give my personal opinion on it.
Stop Staring was one of the first large vintage repro companies to hit the market. Riding the Neo-Swing wave, Stop Staring was established in 1997 and offers up mostly dresses with a tiny selection of separates. All garments are designed by a female designer who wants to give women the chance to embrace their inner femme fatale by providing figure flattering and curve hugging garments.
Some Stop Staring dresses have stretch to their fabric, while others do not. This dress has an insane amount of stretch to it. Which I personally don’t care for since it often creates odd bunches (which you can see in the above image) that you’re constantly tugging it back down. But I like their styles, the fact the garments have back zippers and I also love that their garments are made in the USA.
One brand that has really picked up popularity is Trashy Diva. I was introduced to the brand by fellow blogger The Fiercest Lilliputian who has a few of their dresses and adores them. I really loved many of their patterns and the cuts were amazing! Seriously, some of their dresses could be dead ringers for the real deal. But most of their garments have side zippers (seriously, I could do a whole post on my side zipper problem). So that and the price forced me to turn away from their items. But recently I scored one of their dresses for less than half of what it cost new.
When I tried the dress on I was really pleasantly surprised by their side zipper. Unlike most side zippers that stop an inch or so before the armpit, Trashy Diva zippers go all the through to the sleeve! This makes the dress ten times easier to get on and off, and doesn’t strain the fabric like other side zipper garments. (This strain often results in the zipper being pulled loose from the garment and/or causing the fabric to sheer.)
Some of Trashy Diva’s dresses have stretch, others do not, such as this one which is 100% rayon. And some have linings, but some don’t. For me, I personally don’t care for linings with the exception of a coat. I much prefer to wear slips than deal with linings.
I do want to make note of one quality thing that I encountered. Even though I did buy my Trashy Diva dress second hand, it still had its original tags and replacement button attached. So I believe the dress was unworn. However, I noticed that the fabric on the fabric covered buckle was already beginning to show wear.
Second hand or not, I really don’t feel like this should be happening yet and it’s disappointing. But honestly I don’t care too much for the belt. Partially because it’s not all that flattering due to the fact that even on the tightest setting the belt was still loose. Also, the light fabric is applied to a black belt, which causes the whole belt to be a shade darker than the rest of the garment. I may find myself pairing this dress with a different belt or no belt at all, it looks just dandy without. With regards to manufacturing location, Trashy Diva garments are made in China.
I found both the Stop Staring and the Trashy Diva dresses to be immensely comfortable as well. Especially the Trashy Diva one, which was lightweight and soft. And the stretch in the Stop Staring made it easy to move in.
Furthermore, I find that vintage repro fills a nice, specific niche in my wardrobe – travel. When traveling you run the risk of losing or ruining your garments. It’s just a sad fact. And I would much rather lose a new garment, that may be easily replaced, as opposed to a vintage, possible one-of-a-kind garment.
Other vintage inspired companies that I have highlighted are Freddies of Pinewood, eShakti (experiences viewable here and here) Collectif and more recently Bettie Page Clothing.
There are so many more vintage repro and vintage inspired companies out there. Here is a small list for you to check out. I have noted where the garments are made for the companies that I was able to find that information.
Heyday – Made in the UK and New Zealand
Vivian of Holloway
Pin-up Girl Clothing
Boo Boo Kity Couture – Handmade in the UK
Jitterbuggin’ Clothing – Handmade in Portland, Oregon
NudeeDudee – Made in Los Angeles, California
Bernie Dexter – Made in the USA
As always, any future vintage repro/vintage inspired garments that I purchase or collaborate with I’ll share my experiences with you. But I do want to note, I am by no means a clothing quality expert. I’ve never peeked into a designer garment to look at the stitching, and I don’t go into high-end shops and turn garments inside out. But I can feel the difference between fabrics and tug at seams and give it my best, but sometimes the true quality of a garment isn’t shown until it’s worn and washed the couple of times, and that’s another reason I love real vintage – it’s been around the block a few times and holding on strong.