Buying vintage bins in the time of Coronavirus

I am not sure where “bins” the abbreviation for glasses comes from, but considering my need for increasingly telescopic lenses it seems appropriate to refer to them as my binoculars. 

I enjoy the time when it comes to choose new glasses, well new old glasses as I always opt for vintage when it comes to opticals. If you are more conscious of buying vintage personal items during the pandemic then rest assured that many vintage specs have never been used.

For me, part of the fun usually involves visiting a shop dressed with antique cabinets, drawers and trays presenting styles for a try-on session. I had my eyes on a market, where online vintage eyewear emporium, Retro Spectacle was exhibiting but coronavirus ruled that impossible so I took the plunge and picked from pictures. Their selection of frames spans spectacles, sunglasses, designer names and desirable collectables like NHS styles, which date back to the late ‘40s.

In this day and age you can even shop reclaimed shop display cabinets online to add to the magic when looking at stock irl. These [from a selection on Salvo] soothed my craving.

Brass framed shop display cabinet c1970 from Art Furniture
Gilded Domed Display Cabinet from Edward Haes 

There is something about lockdown that heightens your screen experiences, and exchanges with Retro Spectacle’s owner Charlotte made it for me. She is an optician in practise so advised me well on frames that would work with my prescription, and shared selfies to help me choose between the seven styles I was eyeing; particularly kind as few people felt like taking selfies in lockdown. Apart from the tech between us, it felt like good old fashioned service, the kind that I dream the customers of couturier Christian Lacroix were treated to back in the day. Needless to say I chose vintage cat eye glasses by Christian Lacroix and an unapologetic ’80s pair by Christian Dior. Some people spent on earrings to jazz up video calls, but I’m wearing glasses more, so I got two vintage pairs for less than you would pay for a new pair of designer glasses.  

Picture of my mum wearing ’80s glasses, in the ’80s
My ’80s Dior frames from Retro Spectacle

Prices start from £29 at Retro Spectacle. They also do lenses but after all that screen time I had to get my eyes tested. Travelling on the tube again – just me in the carriage, I had time to take-in my new masked reflection and it confirmed that personality eyewear was a good investment right now. 

I personally love vintage glasses for their uniqueness, handmade quality and because it’s a more sustainable option, and I definitely needed to do something right by the planet given the amount of plastic PPE involved in eye examinations now. Plastic-free July fail. However, my first “normal” errand in a while did have its thrills. I left with the knowledge of the tissue trick. Listen up glasses wearers, if you place a tissue over your nose before positioning your face mask then it helps with the condensation. Handy, because I hope to be able to see in my new glasses. 

My Christian Lacroix frames from Retro Spectacle
Mid-Century Industrial Steel Vitrine Glass Display Cabinet from The Architectural Forum 

© Photographs Reclaimed Woman & courtesy of Retro Spectacle and Salvo

Divorce lawyer to dealer in rare Dior

Julia Jones put the Jones in Mary Jones Vintage, a divorce lawyer that sources and sells vintage fashion.  Based in Liverpool, stocked in Liberty of London and preparing for her first Salvo Fair in my Fair Fashion pop up, which opens in Henley tomorrow (23rd until the 25th June 2017).

I caught up with Julia before she exhibits her vintage finds for women and men, including a rare collection of Christian Dior hats.  Kind of a genius business plan… who doesn’t want Dior after a divorce???

How did you get your start in vintage fashion?

I am a divorce lawyer by trade but have always loved fashion and bought and sold designer clothing on EBAY and the like. Some years ago a friend, Mary, approached me as she had been left an estate of vintage clothes which was too much for her to manage. I fell in love with vintage and Mary Jones Vintage was born. Mary retired a few years ago and I, as the Jones, carried on.

What should we look for from Mary Jones Vintage at SALVO 2017?

Passion for vintage! I hand pick all of the items I sell and pride myself on doing them justice in my display. I want to give these items a new life.

This is a sneak peak of my favourite piece on Julia’s Salvo stand so far.  A 1970s Gina Fratini maxi dress. 

Is there a trend in the pieces you are currently sourcing?  

In Liverpool at the moment vintage Kaftans and Kimonos are big. Vintage fur is always sought after, but generally people are looking for that unique piece that no one else has.

Do you find it hard to part with things once sold?  Does a single piece stand out as the one that got away?

I am terrible for trying not to sell things. Because these items often have a history it is hard to part with them. I bought an Edwardian French crystal hair slide from a car boot sale a few years ago. It was exquisite. At that time I was doing some dressage to music on my horse and I sewed it into her tail as our music was Diamonds are a girls best friend.  We won the competition but I forgot to take the slide out of her tail and she merrily galloped off into the muddy field with it on! Panic ensued but, after hours of searching, we did find it again. I subsequently sold it  and  have regretted it ever since.

What are the dos and don’ts people should be aware of when shopping for vintage fashion?

Do buy what you like. Don’t let anyone tell you, you look like your Granny in it.

What do you think of the eco-friendly side of buying reloved pieces? 

I think this is particularly pertinent to vintage fur. I only sell vintage fur and believe very strongly that the quality of the fur and the standard of the craftsmanship was far higher. There is so much vintage fur available that there is no need to buy new.

If you buy carefully, vintage pieces can last a lifetime and cost a fraction of the price of lesser quality designer items.

How does wearing vintage fashion personally make you feel?

I am  what is commonly known as a “fuller filly” so I struggle to get into most of the dresses. However I do indulge myself with hats, bags and jewellery!

See salvofair.com for more details and join me for a dose of Fair Fashion, the antidote to fast fashion festival style. 

Follow Mary Jones Vintage on Instagram

©photographs Reclaimed Woman & courtesy of Mary Jones Vintage