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Wearing Vintage     

These articles are protected by copyright: Simon Rademan Fashion Design Studio CC  Media request for an interview   Disclaimer:  I do not proclaim to be an authority on any of the subjects I write about.  I merely share my experiences with those who wish to learn from it, or just read about it.  Please contact us should you have additional information or information that proves otherwise.

The Style Bible is an easy to read style guide for women - by Simon Rademan - available in bookstoresFashion is all about the NEW, and the unexpected

... but we often find ourselves looking to “the old” and the known” for inspiration.



    Not so long as 30-40 years ago, wearing someone else’s clothing, belonged to the poor.  It was absolutely unheard of, neighbouring on the reprehensible or even disgraceful and pathetic.  “Hand-me-downs” were a sign of poverty, scorned like The Scarlet.

    But today, the rules have changed drastically.  Wearing items of clothing from the past no longer initiates a raised eyebrow of disapproval or pity.  It raises endorsement, maybe even a bit of envy.  Today, it is almost “posh” to wear “vintage”.


What is “vintage”?   When is it vintage?   Why wear vintage?   Down vintage lane


By definition:  “vin.tage (vin’tij)-adj. 

1. a) of a good vintage or period; choice [vintage wine]  b) representative of the best 

2.  representative or dating from a period long past [Vintage clothes].

Vintage – a voguish alias for “secondhand”, “used” or sometimes “retro” – simply refers to clothes and accessories that were made in the past.

    If you are searching for a common thread in fashion, that usually ends up pointing to a specific trend or a designer’s signature:  either full length gowns or tiny waists, lengthening or receding hemlines, military-style coats or Western-inspired pants; thin ties, baggy trousers or wide lapels, chances are that you might not find it where you expect it.

    Fashion today, is no longer about one style or one designer’s signature; it’s about hundreds of styles and thousands of designers.  It’s about a delicate blend of elegance and effortlessness, a combination of the old with the new, a little tradition mixed in with the forward-thinking.  And it’s about innovation and individualism, about panache and fun, the result of which not only works, but works well.  It’s about vintage…  


What is “vintage”?   When is it vintage?   Why wear vintage?   Down vintage lane


Setting time limits for the definition of vintage can be quite challenging, because everyone has a different opinion.

    When does something fall out of the realm of contemporary and into the vintage arena?  Is something ever too old to be considered vintage, and if so, how old is too old?  Some insist that vintage refers to clothing and accessories that are fifteen years old or more, or that were made before the 1990’s, and after the 1930’s.  Others consider vintage to be anything made between the late 1880’s and early 1950’s.  Others still are adamant that it is anything made prior to the 1960’s, when wearing old clothes became a fashion statement an not a mark of poverty.

And then there are, of course, the purists who argue that vintage is anything that is not on the department store rack today.

    Most vintage dealers and collectors agree, however, that vintage refers to the range of clothing and accessories made from the late 1920’s (anything prior to that is more akin to “costue” or “antique” than “vintage”) through the mid 70’s.  Anything made after that would simply be too newSome time needs to pass before the qualities of a piece can properly be determined andVintage inspired tailored jacket by Simon Rademan assessed; and only with distance can fabrication, style, quality and durability shine through and be appreciated.  Only then it is vintage…

    Vintage has become so popular that the millenium’s top fashion designers – from John Galliano, to Calvin Klein, and even myself - are rummaging through the recesses of time and antiquated trends to find inspiration.

    So why is fashion by definition dedicated to all that is new, different, and unexpected, turning to the past for identity?  And why are so many of today’s fashion icons engaging in the hunt for vintage?   


What is “vintage”?   When is it vintage?   Why wear vintage?   Down vintage lane

  •            The thrill of the hunt and of the unexpected.......

  •            The variety of styles and sizes.......

  •            The quality of fabrics and craftsmanship.......

  •            Knowing that what you have is authentic or that it’s an original.......

  •            The fun of recreating/rinventing old looks mixed with modern pieces.......

  •            The satisfaction of finding a bargain – getting the best for less.......       

What is “vintage”?   When is it vintage?   Why wear vintage?   Down vintage lane

When I was still a student at the International Academy of fashion, I designed and made a fully lined black pencil skirt, all fabrics included, custom-made for R27-00.  A few days ago, I received an e-mail from the client, informing me that she sold this skirt to an enthusiastic buyer for a whopping R390-00!

Soon it will also be seen as “vintage”… J

Me Julia Roberts, who won Best Actress for her role in Erin Brokovich at the OSCAR’s in 2001, wore a vintage black velvet Valentino couture column gown with a tulle train and white line accents. This changed “vintage” perceptions extraordinarily.

If you’d like your own original Simon Rademan gown made (bridal or evening), that may one day become a “vintage” investment, contact us.


“Wearing vintage” by Catherine Bardey

Eternal nothingness is fine if you happen to be dressed for it.”  - Woody Allen

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