It never fails. You compliment someone on their clothing and when you hear them say the word vintage, there’s always that sting. It’s the fashion upset, the agony of found-treasure that can’t be replicated. Something uncommon and sparse that carries an air of the unattainable. There’s a strong attraction to style and clothing that isn’t available to the masses, things not easily possessed.
“We want that unique piece that nobody else has that will make us stand out in the crowd,” said Lily Greig, owner of the boutique Love Charles Vintage. “There’s a lot of nostalgia and romanticism involved.”
GR|Mag: Where does your love of vintage come from?
LCV: I’m drawn to vintage and it was the only way to get something different and unique back when I was 15. And I appreciated the quality.
GR|Mag: What are some of the things you do to prep pieces for sale?
LCV: There’s hours of searching and finding pieces, then I wash it, which is maybe a simple soak or stain treatment. I soak to eliminate cigarette smoke, dust and musty odors so things smell and look fresh again. There’s repairing too. Most things need a seam fixed or a button tightened or new buttons. It can be little repairs to extensive reconstruction work.
GR|Mag: What are you looking for when scouring for vintage?
LCV: I look for interesting patterns—something I’ve never seen before. I love tweed and unusual textiles. I want quality, timeless pieces. Some people want to dress modern but with a unique vintage element, so I look for things that can fit that style.
GR|Mag: What’s the most amazing, unicorn rare item you’ve found?
LCV: Unicorns change all the time, but I’d have to say my favorite was a 1940s Egyptian novelty print dress covered in hieroglyphics.
GR|Mag: What kinds of accessories do you typically carry?
LCV: Hats, a few scarves, purses and jewelry—costume jewelry, nothing too expensive but something that can spruce up an outfit or make a great gift.
GR|Mag: What are some ways to style vintage for the holidays?
LCV: It’s the perfect time to wear vintage. For the holidays, you can’t beat a ‘50s party dress. For New Year’s Eve, I love a good jumpsuit. Sequin tops or sparkly sweaters add a little splash to outfits but keep them casual. I also have beaded bags to add sparkle to outfits.
GR|Mag: Want to share any vintage styling tips?
LCV: We bundle up in coats and it makes me think of my favorite vintage item, a fashionable wool coat. It never goes out of style and elevates a modern look or a vintage look. They’re beautiful and such a great wardrobe staple, especially for Michigan winters.
GR|Mag: What’s a vintage piece you wear all year round?
LCV: I’m a big advocate of the vintage black dress. I probably have 15. You can get a simple classic one or as much flair as you want.
GR|Mag: What are some ways to work vintage into every day, current looks?
LCV: An easy way to incorporate vintage and still look modern is an interesting skirt. If you pair it with a black turtleneck it doesn’t look like you’re in a costume and it’s comfortable too. I try to always wear a vintage necklace from the ‘70s. It gets people’s attention. Again, a nice vintage coat is a statement piece.
GR|Mag: This is recycled fashion—green fashion in a sense, as you’re using what’s already been around, right?
LCV: I’ve never wanted to produce things. I was more comfortable restoring things that already existed. That’s why I sell vintage, it’s recycling stuff that’s already around and it should be appreciated. A lot of my customers are wanting to shop responsibly. That’s why I try to have a lot of basics in the shop for them. Fast fashion uses a ton of resources and energy. When we wear vintage, the planet is better off.
Check out styles of the past at Love Charles Vintage. The shop currently has a 1940s black and nude sequin dress perfect for New Year’s Eve soirees and a 1980s silver party dress—complete with a big, white collar—that screams the fun just arrived.
*Photos courtesy of Love Charles Vintage