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Monday, March 18, 2013

While reading this weekend’s Wall Street Journal, I laughed a little over a story called, “The One That Got Away,” about shopping for past-season, but not-officially-vintage fashion on Yoox, eBay, and a number of recently launched pre-owned clothing sites. In particular, these two sentences amused me:

“Buying clothes in this way, however, requires a change in perspective. It’s about judging a piece solely by how much you love it, not by how current it is.”

I was like, “O RLY?” because that seems a bit obvious. Imagine! Buying things because you love them regardless of what’s in the stores right now! As if I had ever bought anything that I hadn’t loved (whether or not the item in question was deserving of that love is another story, of course). But then I got off my high horse because I realized that there’s another angle to the Wall Street Journal’s point: Not only should you buy clothes this way, but you should keep them this way too. And that’s something I learned only after I had the opportunity to start shopping previous-season sample sales and vintage and consignment stores in the early 1990s. As soon as I started buying old clothes, it dawned on me that it was foolish to get rid of any interesting, few-years-old clothes that I already owned, lest I wind up buying them back later as “vintage.” So, instead, I tossed that tedious closet-purging rule that says you should get rid of anything — no matter how fabulous — that hasn’t been worn in a mere 12 months. I wrote about this in a 2010 post called, “Grow Your Own Vintage by Breaking the Rules,” in which I said that there’s no need to banish:

“…beautifully made and still-flattering (key qualifier!) clothes that have the misfortune of being ‘last season’ — that no-woman’s land between ‘new’ and ‘vintage.’ I never think ‘last season.’ I think ‘future vintage.'”

And that’s how I ended up keeping my ruffled baseball vest from Byron Lars‘s headline-making collection after it went unworn for 12 years. It’s now back in rotation.


My Byron Lars vest was purchased at a sample sale in the early ’90s.

It took me even longer to learn to buy the most distinctive pieces from a collection. For years, I bought the basic, black version of any design, because of the theory that if you wear all black everything, no one can tell how old anything is and how often you wear it. You also end up with a very bland wardrobe that way.  My first, cautious purchase of my favorite vintage designer, Ossie Clark, was a black halter dress; now I won’t buy any Ossies without a signature Celia Birtwell print. I realized that there was no point in wearing an Ossie at all if it wasn’t the Ossie-est piece I could get.


One of my favorite Ossie dresses, seen in 2010.

Sure, I’ve got the essential LBDs and black t-shirts galore. Some basics are essential, but nothing but basics is boring. And after a couple of years, is anyone besides a Conde Nast editor going to remember which season this magazine-covering striped Prada dress is from? Why would anyone’s memory matter to me anyway?

One dress that I might have once gotten rid of for being both too distinctive and unworn too long is my leopard-print Diane von Furstenberg dress. I wore it to my sister’s pre-wedding dinner in 2002.


Click to read about my backdrop.

I put it aside for at least five years, but now it’s my go-to dress for all sorts of occasions, including the 2010 debut of my jewelry on the big screen in Sex and the City 2.


Click for original post.

Last night, I wore it again to a dinner for an non-profit organization that MrB works with.


What Wendy Wore:
Dress: DVF (2002)
Shoes: Prada (2010)
Purse: Louis Vuitton (2001)
Jewelry: All my own designs

Much more fun than a BBD (boring black dress), right?

Check out the WSJ article, which I linked to above, for a list of non-eBay sources for past-season shopping. I’ve been seeing articles like this everywhere, which I attribute to Vaunte.com. Two of the co-founders of Vaunte were part of the original Gilt Groupe team, and the press is absolutely drooling over their new venture. Wipe your mouths, press people! Your saliva is getting all over my vintage wardrobe.

UPDATED TO ADD: Linked this up to Not Dead Yet Style’s Visible Monday post. Check out all the other ladies there!

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28 Responses to “What Wendy Wore: Leopard-Print DVF From 2002”

  1. Aggie says:

    Oh Wendy, that DVF dress is gorgeous and fits you perfectly. Never get rid of it!

    I’ve never seen the logic of buying only in-season items as if it’s disgusting to wear items from past seasons. Ironically, these vultures would pay through their noses for vintage pieces.

    Since I can’t afford designer items, I just wait for must-haves from past seasons that I absolutely love to pop up on eBay. My latest acquisition is the Miu Miu clutch with the swallow prints at a steal (which I haven’t blogged about)

  2. margaret says:

    Holy Cow! I do not know what I love more – that leopard dress or the ossie clark maxi. They are both so fantastic.

  3. sulky kitten says:

    That Ossie Clark is wonderful on you. I love the DVF as well – you’re a little Hoarder! But you make it a GOOD thing! My captcha was Booze – so gratifying.

  4. I like all these pieces – you look fab in print – I interviewed Celia Birtwell not so long ago, she was absolutely lovely.

  5. Megan Mae says:

    Rawr! That DVF dress fits you perfectly. And a good fit never goes out of style. Keep rockin’ your style, Wendy.

  6. Veshoevius says:

    Grow your own vintage! Hah! Love it! I’m sure I have quite a few things passing into vintage now, I hang on to things for that long!
    Loved this post – buy things because you love it – some of us have always shopped like that! And coincidentally I just posted on how I like hunting out collections I loved in sample sales because of just that – who really cares if it is current or not if it is something beautiful and makes you feel great time and time again wearing it.
    You have a drool worthy vintage wardrobe. That DVF shift is awesome and looks as fabulous today as in 2002! Love the Celia Birtwell/Ossie Clark number too.

  7. Lynn says:

    Two things: First, that gorgeous OC maxi is an extra-long puffy shirt! You should have included it with your puffy shirt post–it shows how deep and ancient your puffy-shirt love runs!

    Second, this interests me: “…after I had the opportunity to start shopping previous-season sample sales and vintage and consignment stores in the early 1990s.” This reader would like to know more about what opened up that opportunity for you.


    • WendyB says:

      Ha ha! You’re right about the puffy Ossie.

      I got my first post-college job in 1989 and in the early ’90s had some spending money for the first time. And I guess I was just always looking for a bargain, so educated myself about the sample sales and the stores. Money + access = good shopping 🙂

  8. Sheila says:

    Yes! I’m experiencing this right now, with a gorgeous pirate-y frock coat! I only wear it maybe once a year, but there’s no way I’m ever getting rid of it!

    You look smashing in that leopard, Wendy! I’m itching to break out my leopard dress again! Hmmm…maybe it’s time for another Leopard Week??

    • WendyB says:

      YES! Time for a Leopard Week!

      And never get rid of anything pirate-y. Who knows when you’ll want to dress up as Adam Ant? It could happen!

  9. Val Sparkle says:

    What a fabulous dress! You look stunning! It’s funny how leopard print is just everywhere now, but has it ever really gone out of style?

  10. I love that dress, and you wear it so well. I don’t care what anyone says, Leopard is a neutral, it goes with every colour, and always looks hot! Like you, I keep what I absolutely love regardless of how long ago its been worn. And I do find myself pulling out things that having been worn in decades! Suddenly they’re fresh to me again. (Although I will admit my figure has changed in the past 10 years with the appearance of breasts! I tried taking a picture of myself in one of my old designs — it will never see the light of day, its practically obscene with these gazangas! It was leopard too, boohoo!) I do have some regrets from when I sold vintage. I wish I had kept a snakeskin coat (I think I asked you about it, maybe it was an Ossie?), I loved it so and now it would fit perfect! You live and learn. XXX

    • WendyB says:

      Yes, I do remember talking about that snakeskin coat. Wasn’t it an Ossie you picked up for a song at some sale because the seller didn’t know who he was???

      • Yes that’s the one. Still have regrets about selling it, I didn’t really want to at the time so put a crazy price on it (for the time period) and had a taker first day it was out. I was crushed. I should’ve known better! Oh well… I’ve found so many other treasures since that, so can’t look back and regret! XXX

      • WendyB says:

        Someone wanted to buy my snakeskin Ossie and I decided no amount of money would make me part with it!

        That said, no use crying over sold Ossies. 🙂

      • Don’t you dare sell it EVER! I will know you’ve gone off the deep end if I ever hear that you are even considering it! (;

  11. Olivia says:

    Am relatively new to your blog but I want to say that I love your style, and you’ve already been a big influence on the way I shop. I used to buy current season only, but found myself getting bored with the same trends, as well as unable to afford many of the pieces I wanted, at full retail price.
    I am now dipping my toes into the Ebay vintage world…and it has really been a revelation. Not just in the variety and affordability, but also in the idea that “it’s okay” if my aesthetic does not conform strictly to current fashion standards! Don’t know why it took me so long to realize this, but thank you. 🙂

  12. Damn, you look amazing in that dress, then and now!

    And I am so jealous that you have that Byron Lars vest from his early years. He is so amazingly talented.

    By the way, thanks for visiting my blog. You commented that you would give an eyetooth for a vintage Krizia sweater. If you do that, will you please use it to make one of your amazing pieces of jewelry for me? 😉

  13. Miss Cavendish says:

    I so regret giving away pieces from the 1980s when I thought I was done with them. But somehow I kept one: a JP Gaultier silk wrap vest–pale Chinoiserie on the front, men’s wear stripes on the back. And I still have an image of Phoebe Cates wearing it in Vogue!

  14. Tina says:

    Love the DVF dress on you. So far the extent of my leopard print purchases have been limited to a belt and a small clutch. Baby steps…

  15. stacy says:

    You look GREAT in leopard, but OMG that Byron Lars vest is genius.

  16. Bella Q says:

    Good lord woman, do you just keep looking hotter and hotter as each year passes? NOT FAIR. But I do love that you hang on to good stuffs and re-wear them, and let me just say you make a great posterchild for the “shop secondhand first” pledge because on of the first places we should shop, is our own closets!

  17. Great dress! You’re looking so pretty!