Below are some of the most common issues and concerns that Elinor and her competent staff address on a regular basis:
Q: What exactly are vintage period garments and how do they differ from antique items?
A: In the garment industry with a historic perspective, an item is generally considered vintage when it is 20-years-old or older. In contrast, an item that is 100-years-old or older is by definition called an antique.
However, often in the consignment and resale world of commerce, we soften the time range.
At Vintage Mirage, since we are responsible for downsizing estates, including customer wardrobes, we consider any item to be vintage if it has been pre-owned and meets our “Excellent Condition/Mint Condition” standard.
As such, I often tell my customers that when we find a garment, a purse, or a piece of jewelry with an original tag, its age may vary from less than a year to 100 years old. From my fashion history knowledge in buttons, accessories ,and jewelry, I am usually able to date an item within 10 to 20 years.
Q: How do I create my own personal style of dressing?
A: Our job at Vintage Mirage is to help you find the most flattering outfit with accessories to improve your lifestyle, personal comfort zone, and figure, a look often referred to as “body architecture.”
We often suggest certain styles, lengths of garments, and a range of colors for any special occasion.
After the garment is fitted, we spend time with you to help transform your look into a full outfit with clothing, purse, belt, shoes, jewelry, and hair accessories.
With several possible combinations available at the store, and the changing transformation of the whole look on the customer, this is a moment when personal style of dressing becomes a work of art for you. We firmly believe that you are unique. Therefore, with a combined new and vintage look, this marks a moment of dressing for personal style.
If you wish to inquire about how to access Personal Style at Vintage Mirage, you have several options:
- Refer to our blog to improve lifestyle changes at home.
- As a personal service, hire Vintage Mirage to do a consultation with you, in your home, and to work with you on downsizing. We call this service the “in Home Consultancy and Downsizing Service.”
Q: What are the central items from clothing designers this season or this year that are must haves for my lifestyle? What are the trends for next year?
Q: How can I expand my wardrobe with vintage items and accessories?
A: A customer’s wardrobe is comprised of a central group of garments, a range of day to day clothing, and work related clothing, usually including a specific range of colors and certain styles of garments. Outside of this main grouping is the special event and evening clothes.
I wrote a blog to help customers expand and experiment with new combinations of outfits for the summer months, which can be accessed through the blog page of this website.
If the customer has a favorite dress, for instance, a large belt will totally alter the fit and overall architecture of the look. In addition, a suit jacket or blazer, a long no-button light weight coat, or vest will transform the dress into the new trend of suit-dress and jacket. For this new suit look, the garments do not have to be of the same material, nor the same color and texture.
Mixing the eras of fashion is one of the benefits of wearing vintage clothing. So many of the garments are exquisitely tailored and have wonderful details to show. The regular pant suit can also be altered by changing the jacket, from another era for instance. The often popular 1940-50’s beaded cardigan sweater is fun with pants and a blouse or t-shirt top.
Some customers are wearing frilly lingerie/negligee, such as short bed jackets as cardigan tops. We also carry fur stoles, which can be worn over a dress or sweater for fun, not necessarily only outside on the neck of an overcoat.
Adding jewelry can also transform a day look into an evening outfit. There are unlimited possibilities with vintage era clothing. Come in to our store with your favorite garment, or hire us and our wardrobe services to assist you in expanding your wardrobe.
Q: Oh no! I just realized that my garment has lost one button! What do I do? My favorite outfit needs buttons repaired or could improve with new buttons. Where do I find such a service?
A: Do not fret. You have come to the perfect source for re-buttoning a garment. Our Re-Buttoning Service can be accessed here under the Services tab.
At Vintage Mirage we have a wide range of vintage and couture buttons that are individual or in sets for sale. We also offer the service of sewing on replacement buttons so that you will have confidence wearing your garment.
Elinor Coleman is a member of the National Button Society and has extensive knowledge of the history, various materials, preservation, cleaning requirements, appropriate style, and format for re-buttoning.
Our procedures are as follows:
- Come to the store with the garment and leave it with us. Then Elinor will locate a sample array of buttons suitable for the garment.
- Otherwise, call to make an appointment for the day and time available to come and choose which style you wish.
- If you choose to have us sew on the buttons, then we will complete the order within several days. Then we will call you to come by the store and to pick up the finished garment.
Q: What do I wear now that I am recovering from surgery/going through treatment and want to dress fashionably, but do not want tight fitting garments for comfort? I need to be able to get the clothes on and off easily with buttons or zippers, since I have limited range of movement.
A: At Vintage Mirage there is an array of easy to put on garments with buttons or zippers down the front with simple or embellished details. Many of the 1950s era dresses are shirt waist style, so the buttons or zippers are down the front of the garment, making putting on or taking off easy.
In addition, Elinor has created special garments with breast cancer or surgery patients in mind. Some of the garments are embellished and fun to wear with crystal, beads, glitzy zippers, vintage buttons, and ribbons.
Since we accommodate each customer with references for tailoring, we can suggest alterations which will assist in the customer’s comfort and design requirements.
Q: With whom may I discuss the intimate business of family downsizing or liquidating family possessions before I make the decision and take action?
Since 2004, we are often referred by customers, realtors, and lawyers, due to our first class reputation, in the vintage business in Alexandria, VA.
At Vintage Mirage we have a special service which provides consultancy objective and thoughtful information through the actual pricing, packing, donating, or selling of downsizing and liquidating whole households to personal wardrobes, anywhere in the United States.
Elinor Coleman lectures to local community organizations about the importance of careful and thoughtful planning when contemplating downsizing.
Please refer to the Services web page, or call Vintage Mirage, and we will be happy to send you a copy of our information packet.
Q: How do I dress for a special occasion? What are the appropriate style requirements for evening or daytime events?
A: Well, at this point in fashion and tradition, many parties are designed to bring out the newest trends or reach into past eras and periods of clothing design. What is most important to us at Vintage Mirage is fit, comfort, and overall beauty. We are looking at the architecture of your body to be wonderfully cohesive in any time period garment or accessory, from edgy to classic, for any special occasion.
Such a process of trying on looks takes time. If you are going to have an outfit made to order for yourself, using one of our vintage designs or garments, plan nine months in advance. Since we show only the current season’s garments, plan to stop by our store at the beginning of the season, or call us and we will try to gather that season’s garments for you by special appointment.
Give yourself enough time for thoughtful shopping, trying on, and specific alterations, at minimum, two months before hand.
Why stress yourself out and shop the day before the event, when you can plan with ease?
Schedule one hour of time for each visit to our store.
So here, dear customer, are suggestions to help you find the best look for a special event or invitation to dress up.
- It is special, so putting together sundry pieces from your wardrobe such as any dress, jacket, pant, skirt, or blouse will not do, nor will the usual day type jewelry or hat work either. The only exception might be creating a wedding gown and theme, based on a family heirloom piece, which then transforms the intention of the whole event historically, the outfit, the accessories, and the overall feel of the occasion.
- Yes, it will take time, for you and for us, so please call us in advance.
- The visit, measuring, choosing possibilities, and trying on garments will take an hour. Telling us an approximate size is not relevant nor helpful.
- If we already have your measurements, we can gather several garments together in advance: that is accurate and current measurements for the bust, waist, and hips in inches.
- To prepare:
- Bring your best underwear or wear these items that may include a bra, strapless bra, merry widow bra, bustier, spanx, or stockings, along with your usual high heel or fancy shoe. All of these items are important for the look and fit of your outfit.
- If possible, pin your hair up, so that the back of the outfit can be viewed easily by you in the mirrors.
- Bring us the invitation, or mention to us all the details of the event, including the overall theme, date, time of day, location and information about the host/hostess/organization. All of these details will help you determine what look you will feel comfortable wearing.
- Since we pride ourselves in assisting customers with special occasion dressing, these thoughts will assist us in suggesting different garments and accessories which are appropriate for the event, with your body architecture, coloration, and height in heels in mind.
- Since Vintage Mirage is a vintage consignment store, all of our garments are one-of-a-kind and range from the Victorian era to the present, so have an open mind and try on garments that may be outside of your normal look.
- Remember that since this is a special occasion, a new color or pattern may add some extra excitement and expand your wardrobe in a positive way for the future.
- Since some garments look wonderful on, but not as interesting on the hanger, be willing to spend extra time.
- Also, since these garments are one of a kind, by definition, we may not have another color or pattern of the same item, unless we have downsized a wardrobe/estate of a woman who bought the same dress in several colors or patterns. Sometimes we luck out, and so you luck out as well.
- The various dresses and gowns from the 1950-1960’s sometimes seem boxy, because all women’s sizes were generically boxy in order to give the personal tailor or dressmaker fabric to make tucks and darts throughout the garment. Such was the manufacturers’ assumptions and accepted trade industry methods at that time.
- Manufacturers also added hem material and extra fabric in the seams, especially if there were sequins and beads, as extra ornamentation left in the seams for repairs.
- The “Camelot”, “Mad(WO)men” garments which were carefully fitted and that we have in stock in Vintage Mirage, are the made to order pieces for a woman customer back in the day.
- Give us time to help you also accessorize the garments, since many pieces of clothing are elegant, classic, and simple. Adding an obi belt, crystal belt, crystal necklace, and dangling earrings add glamor to the look and flatter the overall elegance of the person. It is always amazing how transforming the accessories can be for the architecture.
- The good news is that these same accessories increase your bling factor. The outfit looks as though every element was made for each other, and we know we did plan such a look especially for you. Such a visual conclusion is the goal and the wow factor.
- Remember, our goal is to make the customer beautiful, elegant, and comfortable in the unique look.
We look forward to your call and shopping visit at Vintage Mirage.