THRIFTY BUSINESS

From speaking to lots of girls whose style we love – in and out of Topshop HQ – it seems that once you're a vintage-lover, you're always a vintage lover! So for the AW11 edition of our 214 magazine, we asked New York writer and cute girl-about-town Indigo Clarke (who has a wardrobe brimming with Victoriana dresses), to explore what it is about vintage clothes that girls just don't grow out of.BLOG_280911Here are Indigo's thoughts…

Like well-worn paperbacks, my vintage favourites each have a story to tell. When I was a teenager in Sydney I thought that my ‘vintage’ look wasa phase I’d eventually grow out of. Well, maybe I just never grew up, because one of my favourite pastimes is still scouring !ea markets and charity shops. Here in NYC I love the Brooklyn Flea on Saturdays at Fort Greene, and I still jump out of cars on road-trips to ecstatically rifle through small-town thrift-stores and church sales.

I’m not alone. Most people I know love getting thrifty. In fact two of my favourite London ladies, my friends Violaine Bernard, fashion director of Velour magazine, and Jaja Hargraves AKA blogger July Stars (both fashionable and fabulous transplants from France) share this healthy obsession. Violaine says she loves vintage because it gives her the opportunity to own one-off items of unique historical importance: "that’s something that no designer, no matter how hot they are, can offer you!" Super-stylish blogger Jaja told me she loves shopping vintage online, and that she experienced a "genuine vintage revolution"when she discovered the American Archives store on eBay: :It was a key moment. And I always promised myself not to reveal its name to anyone, as I would like to keep it secret… Too late now!"

As for me, when I was a teenager in Syndey, with cropped engine red hair, I wore a uniform of doc-boots and mini-skirts. I didn’t want to look like anyone else and that translated into wearing wild-card pieces: like a 70s lime-green shearling-lined winter coat (it was a childsizecoat I found while skipping school to shop with my two best friends) and purple and pink tie-dyed slips. Sounds terrifying I know – but c’mon, this was the 90s!

Enter the early-2000’s and I was in my post-punky cyber-skater phase, also known as the "what on earth was I thinking?" period. At 24, I ditched the red do, and went au natural – and I’ve kept up the long, brunette locks and shaggy fringe ever since. With the adoption of a more normal look, came an abnormal obsession with lace and crochet Victoriana white dresses and tops – which might have origins in my love of Peter Weir’s ethereal film, Picnic at Hanging Rock – and it’s a look I’m continuing to covet.Currently in my possession are at least 10 dresses of this ilk, vintage and new, and I’m always on the lookout for more. Call it obsessive, but when it’s love, why fight it? At the same time, around 24, I began collecting dresses proper. And once I really got into dresses, there was no going back.

When I moved to London at 25, my dream of a wardrobe consisting entirely of 60s and 70s mini-dresses became a reality. Vintage shopping in London is amazing, and even new designs often have a 60s vibe in a really good way. London is, after all, the original home of the super-mini thanks to the incredible Mary Quant.

After living in London for four years, I made the move to NYC where I’ve definitely undergone a style evolution. For the first time in years, I’ve started creating actual ensembles, complete with cute handbags, even hats – rather than relying on a single item (a dress!) to make my outfit. I’m also mixing my vintage pieces more than ever with new favourites: like my Topshop croppedleather biker jacket, which goes with everything. With each city I’ve lived in – Sydney, London and now New York – has come a subtle evolution ofmy style. But, no matter how my style changes, my favourite thrifty friends are with me for the long-haul.

To help you find the perfect vintage pieces, we asked our Personal Shoppers for their thrifting tips…

1) Keep an eye out for vintage silk scarves – they make amazing headbands.

2) Thrift and charity shops are incredible troves. Look out for old costume jewellery, belts and of one-of- a-kind accessories.

3) Pick up vintage printed men’s tees, and customise by cutting o" the arms and cropping to make a vest. Don’t be scared of taking a pair of scissors to your thrift buys. Find a gorgeous dress that’s too long? You can always cut it down to a mini.

4) Weekend in the country? Don’t forget to pop into the local charity shops and jumble sales for a rummage. Deepestdarkest countryside spots have the best charity shops!

5) A few of the shops we love: Narnia – New York, Rellik – London, Kiliwatch – Paris as well as the vintage-section in our London Oxford Circus flagship of-course..

If you want to know what else is inspiring us for AW11, 214 is yours with every order from Topshop.com right now, can be picked up in selected stores, and is available on Topshop.com for you to browse and shop. 

Pictures Above: Indigo Clarke and Violaine Bernard dressed in their favourite vintage goodies over in New York.