On February 15, Loughborough Town Hall saw the return of The Vintage Fair, to which hoards of vintage hunters flocked in search of something unique. From cake stalls to jewellery to clothes, the Vintage Fair has something for everyone.

Now I’m pretty new to the vintage scene, as it is a fashion area that I have always been intrigued by but somehow hadn’t quite got the knack for. How do I get it right? What am I looking for? Unless I somehow stumble across a Chanel handbag from the 1970s for £25, how do I know I’m getting a good deal?

Luckily I met some experts who were willing to share some of their expertise with me, what I should be looking for and how to complete a vintage outfit with some beauty tips.

Sometimes there can be a stigma attached to vintage hunting that the quality isn’t going to be great, but do not be deterred by this.  Check the seam quality, was the first piece of advice I was given, and if there is a slight hole and if it’s fixable and you really like it, then buy it as seams can easily be re-stitched.  If there is a noticeable tear in the fabric, think twice, as you may be spending too much to justify fixing it yourself.

Similarly, check for any staining. Most retailers will have already done this, but always double check. As with tears, if there is a slight stain that should come out, then it is probably worth buying. Just bear in mind that these items are second-hand – so don’t expect 100% amazing quality.

Once the quality control is complete, check the detailing, this where you can have some fun with personalisation. Buttons, fastenings and zips can all easily be replaced and updated to give your newly loved item fresh revitalisation, keeping it unique and individual.

Looking at the catwalks from this season and further ahead to Autumn/Winter, there is most definitely a reminiscent feel for the 1920s-1960s, so these fairs are the perfect place for finding an item that’s bang on trend.

I spotted lots of lace in a range of pastel colours, which is perfect for the spring months, but also in darker colours such as navy and black for winter, in pieces from dresses to shirts to even headbands.

Chunky knitwear with a Fair Isle print looked super snug, and ideal for those colder days and on-trend for next season’s colder months. 

The rails were also filled with girly full skirts and dresses, which would look perfect with a thick waist belt for a Grease inspired 50’s look.

Alternatively, with the 1920s making a comeback, keep an eye out for drop-waist dresses with spaghetti straps, and complete the outfit with a cute clutch to give a vintage inspired look a modern twist. Although these clothes are old, I was also given the advice, make sure it is wearable now, so bear in mind the season’s trends before you head out.

One thing I did notice was a sea of denim shorts in a variety of shapes, colours and lengths. Joey Essex would be in his element. One customer told me they’re her favourite item to buy “because you can customise them even more […] bleach them, fray them, cut them, add an appliqué to keep them personalised”.  At a fraction of the high-street price, I am definitely sold!

Boys, don’t worry I didn’t forget about you.

There were quite a few men shopping at the fair too, not just being dragged along. Stall owner, Mike Lynam, who describes his own style as “country farmer” gave me a few tips on shopping for male vintage. The late 1950’s-mid 1960’s are big news in the vintage world, so keep an eye out for brogues and oversized tweed coats.

The 1980’s are still in for the boys, and this style seemed to dominate the fair. Adidas jackets are popular and are selling really well at the moment as is reworked denim in shirts, shorts and jackets. But if you’re looking for something that will last, a sheep skin lined coat or fur coat both remain best sellers for both male and female fashion.

Beauty trends have also been inspired by prior decades, taking over the red carpet and being emulated on the high street. Lynsey Le Keux from Le Keux events, describes her ultimate vintage idol as “Bettie Page”, the American pin-up from the 1950’s who is famed for her jet black hair, short fringe and blue eyes, and lists Dita Von Teese as another icon; “The red lip is something every woman should master, because there is a shade out there to suit every skin tone”. Fairer skin tones should look for a red with a blue undertone, whilst warmer skin tones can get away with cherry reds.

A nail trend to try is to leave the crescent of the nail free from polish and paint the rest red for a throw-back feel that Dita herself is a fan of. Hair wise, try a cute headscarf tied in a bow on top of your head or curl your hair with rollers and brush out once cool, for a softer finish then complete with a side quiff.

So, as I pottered around the town hall, somewhat naively overwhelmed by how popular vintage fashion has become, I had gained a new found understanding of what to look for and how to style it up to keep it unique, leaving me feeling satisfied with a new eye for vintage, and a £3 hermés- esque scarf in the bag too!

If you were unlucky to miss out, then pencil these dates in for the rest of the local stops for the Vintage Fair; February 26 in Nottingham, March 3 in Birmingham or March 24 in Leicester. Believe me; you will not want to miss out!


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