While we think the Crawley sisters always look great, we have a hard time imagining saddling up to the bar on a Saturday night in full Edwardian regalia. Silver agrees that if you take the trend too literally, you could wind up looking like you’re going to a costume party [Ed. note: Still, that would be awesome, and we are totally anticipating Downton-themed viewing parties now]. However, he added, “I do think certain Edwardian dresses can look very fresh if worn with a modern shoe, especially if the fabric of the dress has an unusual texture.”
Janet Schwarz tells us a surprising number of her clients–she estimates 60%–are buying Edwardian to wear (as opposed to merely archive). Like Silver, she says that the women who are buying a bustle gown will wear it to a re-enactment or a costume party. But she also tells us that a lot of girls in the Asian and Southern Hemisphere markets buy a blouse or a jacket and mix it with contemporary clothes. Silver is also a fan of mixing the old with the new, adding, “Some antique bags can look very chic when worn with jeans and a tank top, and I am totally down with a hat.”
As one might expect, accessories are the most popular way to wear vintage. Much older clothing is sized incredibly small–14 inch shoulder widths and waspish waists are not uncommon–because they were meant to be worn with corsets. And, as Schwarz puts it, “How many women do you know that want to put on a corset?”
Accessories, Schwarz tells us, are an easy way to get the look: “A lot of the women think if a friend is going to have a Gatsby party, if they can approximate the bottom half but they’ve got the real deal on their head, they’ve got it.” Hats, jewelry, and bags are the easiest way to work authentic pieces into a modern wardrobe.
But also problematic to wearing a vintage garment is the shape it’s in. Ken Weber of Vintage Martini tells us, “Women don’t realize that the dress will be off their body by the end of the party because of how fragile [the dresses] are.” Vintage clothing, especially from the 1920s and 30s, were made of delicate but heavily beaded or adorned fabrics that were often stored incorrectly. So, head’s up to all you ladies planning on getting your Daisy Buchanan on to fête the Great Gatsby movie (when/if it finally comes out) – make sure that flapper dress you bought will hold up longer than the champagne flow.