04/12/2012 12:12 GMT | Updated 30/01/2013 05:12 GMT

Treasure Vintage in the Age of Austerity



Photo credit: Jolie Adele

It's safe to say that the festive season has begun. The office Christmas party is booked and New Year's Eve party invitations have been RSVP'd, so now the 'What will I wear?' question looms in the air, somewhere between your wardrobe as it is now and your bank account.

If you're feeling the pinch this year (Prosecco is a perfectly good substitute for Champagne), but you feel that you really must treat yourself to something new, then consider an old classic that will take you from one cocktail party to the next with a bit of clever accessorizing. I teamed up with Toronto-based artistic consultant Jolie Adele and vintage dress specialists Sp_ace Vintage to explore the idea of vintage party-wear this season in the context of a global recession. "It's a tongue-in-cheek, high fashion way of questioning our culture's over-consumption and excessive desires." says Jolie "This is even more prominent during the holiday season".

Think of this party dress season as an opportunity to invest in a quality vintage cocktail dress that you can cherish forever. Vintage is absolutely the way to go, but I'm keen on the idea of resisting the notion that the Yuletide frock must be Santa red or the of New Year's Eve dress being a safe black. While we're on the topic of over-consumption, perhaps you could ask yourself if you really need two dresses this season? The correct answer of course, is no you do not. Use this opportunity to find that special piece that reflects who you really are in a classic sense. Are you a 1930s Marlene Dietrich or are you an early 1960s Audrey Hepburn? Perhaps you're an early 1980s Diana Ross disco diva?


Photo credit: Jolie Adele

If you're a colour-phobe, consider a soft grey. But if colour is absolutely your thing, then trade in that Christmas crimson for a cross-seasonal fuschia. The beauty of these colours is that you can layer them with the darker hued winter luxury textiles like cashmere or alpaca in the colder months. For the summer, pair them with an open toe shoe and a lightweight white or cream knit cardigan or a starched white cotton blazer to take you from the office to the dancefloor.


Photo credit: Jolie Adele

Finally, you musn't feel like you have to source the haute couture names (Valentino, Chanel, Dior, etc.) to make this work for your wardrobe. Incredibly skilled dressmakers were aplenty up until recent times and the piece you find will have been made by someone with an eye and passion for design and detail. Find a dress that suits you and if it needs to be taken in a bit, get yourself a good tailor who will fit it to your size.

When the party is over, remember to get the dress cleaned and stored in your wardrobe on a wooden hanger and covered properly in a dress cover bag to keep of the dust and away from the moths. Your perfect vintage cocktail frock is essentially a museum piece that needs the appropriate storage and care so that you can continue to wear it time and again.