Modern fashion often draws inspiration from past eras’ styles and stories, bringing older trends to light in new textiles. While those who lived through a fad’s original inception might dread seeing it walk down the runway (and not all fashion needs to be resurrected), by doing this, designers hope to provide a sense of place and authenticity to their work. They create context in new materials by combining them with something familiar, adding comfort to what might otherwise seem foreign and strange.
Unfortunately, through doing this, manufacturers have created a “clothing identity crisis”—they pull bits and pieces from whatever decade, cobbling them together into a dress with a hemline from one era, a collar from another, all in an attempt to create something fresh. So often, this Franken-clothing falls short, creating nothing but the facade of choice.
It’s no surprise, then, that vintage clothing and fashion is making such a resurgence. While it might seem that the procurement of vintage pieces is simply a celebration of nostalgia, but not modern fashion, consider the number of growing online boutiques that cater to people who want new garments in “vintage” styles. Vintage clothing is clothing with an identity—and existing story about the time in which it was made, about the materials that were used, and the person who wore it.
Clothing designers often say that fashion is the ultimate form of expression—so what does vintage clothing express? Depending on the era, you might see pieces that evoke a feeling of change—of independence, ambition, or artistic creativity. These clothes have character.
Many fine woolen garments have not survived as well as their vivid polyester counterparts. Luckily, vintage knitting patterns themselves are not difficult to come by. And with some tweaking, it’s entirely possible to reconstruct a beauty from bygone eras in the beautiful yarns we have available to us today. But how does one go about making these vintage styles modern?
Some designers are answering the question by creating patterns with vintage flair, such as those shown in our newsletter this week. However, this blog feature by The Art of Simple provides excellent hints at how to modify any vintage piece in your wardrobe to feel current—no sewing required.
When you’re knitting from an older pattern, you could consider how the garment will change when re-created in alternative materials, or accented with modern fixtures. Choose your materials carefully. After all, you could be making something that future generations will seek out and cherish.