Perils of Online Vintage Shopping

Educated, independent, smart should be assets when shopping online for vintage clothes. However, all of these qualities are meaningless when faced with certain real-life practicalities. Practical actions that should typically take minimal thought and effort such as getting dressed. When certain garments challenge your independent I-can-do-anything single status and are more conducive to a non-single life. The moment you realise you cannot fasten the beautiful vintage garment you bought online, delicate profanities erupt spontaneously from your mouth into the surrounding air. Your thoughts quickly turn to a magical gene bottle or fairy wand and the promise of instantly conjuring up any imaginable wish. Even a clique wish such as a tall handsome boyfriend flits in and out of your mind as quickly as the elusive fairy who waves her magical wand before vaporising into fairy dust thin air. I’m independent and self-sufficient! Although a wish for a boyfriend seems practical enough – right? I hear men are good with their hands and fixing things – perfect for helping me physically dress.

I had these very thoughts when slipping on this stunning wool vintage Valentino dress which I bought online. I adore the dress for its style, quality and gorgeous rich deep-red colour, but also un-adore because of the frustration in being unable to finish the simple task of getting dressed. No amount of brainstorming or problem solving will help in this situation, unless a second party is involved. Someone to help do up all the buttons. Not just one or two buttons strategically placed near the nape of the neck. That’s easy done for a single girl who lives alone. No, these buttons run all the way from the nape of my neck down to my waist. So unless I can magically morph my arms into the Bendy Man toy or assume some weird uncomfortable butterfly yoga position, I either have to: (1) start a new trend by swanning around with my dress undone and casually draped off my right shoulder; (2) seriously take up yoga so my upper body and arms can contort into an awkward butterfly back-button-upperer position; (3) find a willing and able boyfriend asap; (4) wear the dress back-to-front; or (5) employ the old fashion services of a lady’s maid* like the ones in Downton Abbey. Perhaps option number three can apply for the role? Little did I realise when I bought this vintage dress the challenges I would encounter in simply getting dressed. So if you are single, live alone and love vintage online shopping, here are a few practical tips to consider.


  1. Know your EXACT measurements – garment sizes vary from decade to decade and from country to country.
  2. Read the fine print RETURN policy.
  3. Ask yourself if the garment is: (a) for your vintage collection (i.e., investment never-to-be-worn piece and I don’t care if it doesn’t fit category); or (b) for your vintage ready-to-wear collection (i.e., will wear to death piece).
  4. If the garment is for wearing and you live by yourself – make sure you check the garment FASTENERS such as hook and eyes, snap fasteners, toggles, frog closure, buttons, zips, buckles etc. And ponder the question, ‘will I struggle getting dressed?’
  5. Before clicking the shopping cart ‘purchase now’ button, make sure you have meticulously covered points 1, 2, 3 and 4.

*A lady’s maid’s specific duties included helping her mistress with her appearance, including make-up, hairdressing, clothing, jewellery, and shoes. A lady’s maid would also remove stains from clothing; sew, mend, and alter garments as needed; bring her mistress breakfast in her room; and draw her mistress’s bath.






valentino-boutiqueValentino vintage wool dress | Calvin Klein lingerie 

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