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Vintage Shopping: Shag

Yesterday I had elaborate plans to be terribly studious and do hour upon hour of study before class in the afternoon… And yet somehow I ended up in Paddington, walking absent-mindedly into a vintage store. It was a good hour before I came out again.

The store I visited was “Shag” on Oxford St. I have never really frequented Shag because it always looks a little too 80s from the outside; the window display is very kitsch, with garish accessories, crazy patterned tunics and flared pants. Now I’m cursing myself for my aversion, for even though mod dresses and corduroy pants dominate the space, there is a wonderful rack of clothes from 30s-early 60s. Fifties frocks! Old evening gowns! Vintage negligees!

I tried on 80% of the rack, and fell in love with a blue velvet fifties evening dress. The lovely sales girl went wild when I waltzed out of the fitting room, and put on the song “Blue Velvet” by Bobby Vinton for my benefit. Naturally, I took a turn about the store. Here is the evidence:

The scalloped collar still has all its original diamontes – divine!

I also bought a divine novelty skirt. I think it’s later than 50s (the zipper gives it away), probably 70s or 80s, but it has a very 50s-style novelty print with its olive oil and wine theme. The waist band is beautifully embellished with olive branches and grapes, and then on the skirt itself there are bottles of olive oil and wine glasses – fabulous! I think it’s so cute! I’m going to hem it though, as right now it sits at my ankles, and I’d rather it a little shorter. Check it out:

While in Shag I had a conversation with the sales girl about dating vintage clothing, and she was very wise. I’ve been thinking a lot about the small details that allow you to pick the era of a piece of clothing, having just read this post. So as a little tangent for this post, here is my collected wisdom on dating vintage with zippers:

  • Metal zippers were used pre-60s, so anything with a vinyl zipper is usually later – though this isn’t 100% accurate as of course some garments will have had zippers replaced
  • Back zippers weren’t instituted until the 60s, so frocks with side zippers are usually earlier (learnt this tidbit from the girl in Shag)
  • Lack of a zipper, perhaps with a hook and eye used on the side, indicates that the item of clothing could be pre-40s
I might collect more tips like these into a blog post as a sort of guide after a bit more research. If you have any words of wisdom, leave them below.

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