It’s not very often that people make television programmes about things I’m really interested in, like yoga, or cats. And I definitely never imagined that someone would make one about vintage clothing!
But with the rise and rise of the craft movement, Kirstie Allsop making do and mending all over our TV screens, and the popularity of The Great British Sewing Bee, it shouldn’t really have come as much of a surprise that upcycling clothes was next on the cards.
Step forward Dawn O’Porter, TV presenter and vintage clothing lover, whose new show This Old Thing: The Vintage Clothes Show debuted on Channel 4 last night (25th June).
Dawn is a gal after my own heart. Dressed impeccably in vintage with her 60s bump ’do, she wants to show the world how repairing, reinventing and revamping your clothes is a viable alternative to shopping on the highstreet. She wants us to buy less but value what we wear more by investing in a few key, unique items. And learning handmade skills to fix up our old threads along the way which, I have to say, ticks all the right boxes for me.
For the main part of the show, Dawn tried to convert a couple of vintage-phobic shoppers, who looked like they’d rather walk down the road naked than wear something someone else has worn before them.
“Old is not good” one of them exclaimed. “They might have diseases on” said another. But both wanted to look unique. And despite spending all their money on current trends, they (quel surprise) didn’t feel like it reflected their individual sense of style… especially when they walked down the street seeing someone else wearing the same outfit as them.
This was a handy segue into some vintage shopping tips – to step outside your comfort zone and just get stuck in, look for patterns and details you love, try everything on you like. And if you love it, buy it, there’s a chance you’ll never see it again (though word of warning, this is the reason I have 50+ vintage dresses!!)
It was great to see their transformation into vintage vixens, especially when one girl was presented with a reworked dress that used to belong to her nan; I actually had to reach for the tissues. But I’m interested to see if this concept has legs over its 6-week run without getting a bit samey. Though if anyone can do it, you get the impression Dawn can.
As well as convincing fast fashion addicts that vintage clothes don’t smell of dead people, the show also focuses on a particular fashion ‘moment’ – this time the 60s shift dress and mini.
I liked how they did actually show how such trends can be worn and styled without straying into fancy dress territory, which I know is a big fear for vintage newbies.
But, unsurprisingly, perhaps my favourite bit of the show was the bit where clothes actually got reinvented.
Of course, Dawn and her crack team of tailors, dressmakers and costumiers have the benefit of working in a lovely, light, well-stocked workshop that any seamstress would dream of, where they run a sort of walk-in clinic for the kind of eBay purchases you only make when tipsy (no? only me then).
Laura, who bought her red leather dress for a few quid on the internet is a prime example of what can happen when you get a bit eBay happy. But with a few cuts and a bit of ribbon and a zip it was turned into a snazzy little jacket and a matching clutch.
All in all I really enjoyed the show and I’m looking to see how it progresses. There’s also a book to go with the series that I can’t wait to get my mitts on, and a page over on the Channel 4 website where you can learn lots of handy sewing and dressmaking skills as well as styling tips.
Did you watch the show? What did you think?