Friday, February 12, 2010

Bad Thrift Karma? Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Orange

Does anybody have any strong feelings about refashioning vintage? I mean vintagey vintage too, say, pre 1969?
This is why I'm asking:

I bought it the day before yesterday from a second hand store (it's actually the store that helps finance the childcare facility that my brother volunteers at, but I think that and his awesomeness might need it's own post).

I LOVE it. The colours, even though they're kind of punch-you-in-the-eyeballs bright. The cut of the dress, that is SO completely of it's era. The feel of the fabric, it has this kind of loose woven texture to it.
I love it.
BUT. I couldn't wear it, or at least, I couldn't wear it and still do fun stuff like breathing. The neck was too high and small and it was tight around the chest. I bought it anyway because the seam allowances were big enough so that I knew I could let it out and make it the few extra inches longer that I needed without irreparably damaging anything.

But the neck was the problem, I know this sounds dumb, but I didn't want to ruin the integrity of the dress. But I really wanted to be able to wear it so I hummed and hawed and squinted at it and then took a deep breath and got out the scissors and did this to it:

I gave it a slash/boat neckline. I wanted it to still be in keeping with the era, and I was pretty careful with it, and made a facing and everything. I love it so much I absolutely don't regret it now, but MAN I fretted over it.

So my question is this: Do you alter vintage? Should I have left it for someone with a thinner neck to find and take home and wear unaltered? Have I given myself Bad Thrift Karma (so I'll find nothing but size 2 tapered jeans for the next six months)?

Also, do you think it looks too costumey to wear out? I love it but I am a bit anxious about going out in public with THAT much colour. I've been weaning myself off of an all black wardrobe but this is a big step.


  1. I have been enjoying your posts on WR and just had to weigh in on this one. I love the dress/tunic and your new alteration (dont think you get bad karma for that one - you did a service to the dress!) I do have a suggestion - it seems as if the dress is asking for a belt or something? I also like the picture with your hair up. Shows off the neckline the best I think.
    Happy Refashioning!

  2. WOW!
    It looks awesome!
    You did an amazing job. I think it is perfectly within your rights to alter vintage so you can wear it. I mean, seriously, were there no women over a size 4 back then? The lack of larger vintage really bothers me.
    I am wearing purple leggings right now, was going to take them off before going out but now I won't. You've inspired me!
    Wear that out. It's perfect.

  3. You look GREAT! Love the necklace with it. Wear it!!!

  4. I think it's cute and I'd definitely wear it out. With those leggings, too.

    Vintage, shmintage, what were the odds that someone with a skinny neck was going to find it and adopt it anyway? It's not like you cut up a Valentino or something.

  5. Love it love it love it!

    I think it's perfectly cool to alter vintage. It might have been languishing for ages waiting for someone with enough courage to snip it carefully.

    I say wear it out, you look great in it!

  6. Agree! This dress needs to be worn.

  7. Hot mama!! This dress is an absolute dream on you- and if you will wear it more altered, then go for it! I save my scraps with dreams of making something with them someday. :) You look marvelous, darling- simply marvelous!!

  8. BEAUTIFUL work, and looks GREAT on you, Erin! Your new neckline is WAY better than the original! This now looks as though it were made for you - I don't think it looks too costumey to wear out. I was once a black wardrobe girl - then went to brown - and when I started wanting to wear color, although I was very drawn to it, it was a bit scary and I felt self conscious for a while. Now I'm completely a color girl :) I have a box of vintage that I have wanted to do something with, but have been afraid of ruining the original intent, as though it would dishonor the creator - but I think that's silly and we shouldn't be afraid! And Andrea - my theory on vintage clothing size availability is that all the REAL sized clothing got worn out and disintegrated with use, whereas the who-in-the-world-was-small-enough-to-wear-this stuff survived as no one fit in it long enough to wear it out, or maybe even it was never worn - much like it seems the smaller sizes are always the last to go in new stores (clearance racks are FULL of them) and abound in used stores.

  9. First, it does not look too costumey. I think it looks gorgeous on you. I understand your concerns about the integrity of the dress. But you didn't chop it into a mini skirt and crop top. You altered it to fit you. Designers and tailors have ben doing this for decades. It looks great.

  10. The neckline is beautiful with your hair up so it's visible. And that necklace continues to add to each outfit you try.

    As for altering or completely changing vintage, go for it! It's a dress, not a royal artifact from Tudor England. Besides, it was probably in the secondhand store because somebody got rid of it after saying,"Ugh this neck opening is made for a toddler, it's unwearable."

  11. It's so cool! I'm glad you "saved" it. I agree with Megan that it's calling for a belt and with everyone else, that it looks fantastic with your hair pulled up and the red beads because it accentuates the beautiful neckline.

  12. You look FABULOUS!! You did a great alteration job on the dress! Wear it out and skip down the street while you are doing it!

  13. The alteration you've done is not that drastic, worry no longer. I love it in the top picture with the beads and your hair up, to show off the neckline, and your smile is the greatest accessory. As someone above said, it's not like you cut up a designer dress to make some hodgepodge number... I've seen that done before and it was extremely cringeworthy....enough said!
    This dress is in a very simple style, which showcases beautifully a wild colourful print of that era; and your work on the piece has made wearable a beautiful, stylish retro dress/tunic that is in keeping with its own time and this one and looks fantastic!

  14. I think it is wonderful! I would certainly wear it, and I love the necklace and leggings along with it.

    There is nothing wrong with altering vintage - vintage should be worn, and if it needs to be altered to look it's best, then so be it.

  15. I agree with other posters before me - SO cute, no bad vintage karma, hair up, necklace is great, and love the leggings. :)

  16. Nope, I think it's one of the most gorgeous vintage dresses in the world now. Totally worth it. I saw this weeks ago when you first posted it, and keep thinking how fab that fabric is. So I had to come back and give you the 2 thumbs up.x

  17. I recently bought a vintage Joan Holloway number (that was actually in a decent size!) and I want to alter the neckline in almost the same way. I now have the confidence to take the plunge! The altered tunic looks gorgeous, it's so much more feminine.


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