‘Couture’, 1990s – Trends in Vintage To Keep and Say Buh Bye To

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vintage new years eve

As 2009 comes to an end, and we enter the next decade, it’s time to take inventory and make way for a fresh start. Even for those of us that live in the past, we are willing to get rid of some of the old to make way for the new.

The always entertaining and discerning fashion journalist Adam Tschorn of the LA Times Image section has written his hit list of 2009 trends he’d like to say goodbye to. So many of his pet peeves are very related to some of my observations in the vintage marketplace. I took Adam’s list and gave it a vintage spin. Here’s my list of trends in vintage fashion I would love to see go away, with some overlap on Adam’s list of related trends I think will live one more year.

Pop-up stores

These temporary shops were intended to build buzz and exclusivity. I think temporary shopping locations will evolve beyond Target and Gap. Vintage sellers and indie designers will follow retailers’ lead. With the economy tanking, storefronts and studio spaces are becoming extremely affordable. It would behoove a property manager or building owner to rent a space out for a limited, short lease to vintage sellers and indie designers. The idea of a vintage pop-up sale is not new. Market Publique recently hosted one in Brooklyn. I think they will grow in popularity amongst vintage sellers and buyers.

market publique pop up bust


Amen Adam! I don’t know if it is lack of education or sneaky marketing. Either way, touting vintage clothing or accessories as couture when they are merely designer pieces, and mid-line level at that, drives me insane. Mostly because these fraudulent pieces are priced at couture prices. If you are in the market for haute couture, ensure that the label is first of all French, has an extremely high level of construction, and to be safe, has the hand written label in the garment.


I agree with Adam on this one. Curating a collection has gone from merchandising for the ideal customer to cherry picking with no rhyme or reason in the retail world. But I have to disagree that a flea market booth, and I will include a vintage boutique or online store, cannot be curated. Successful vintage sellers must have criteria for inventory. This can include condition, age, wearability, worth, lifestyle. There is most definitely a thought process involved. Without one, you have a mountain of dime-a-dozen frocks that are destined for EBay $9.99 auctions. In fact, with so much competition, it makes sense to curate and find a niche in vintage. For the vintage world, curating is a trend that needs to be exercised more frequently.

Fashion Icon

100% in agreement with Adam. Hepburn, Denevue, Jackie O. – icons. Everyone else – admirable style but time will tell.


I don’t mind retro because it brings the curious and fashion forward to the vintage side. Give me more Mad Men style. Retro in mass media can have an influence on lifestyle as well. I’m seeing a lot more interest in mid-century home décor, a lot more “dressing” for cocktails and dinner. So what if it’s a sequined jacket or top-dressed down with skinny jeans. At least the effort is being made. Keep retro.


About a year ago, I got on this obsessive-compulsive 90210 on SOAP channel kick. Two hours a day, every weekday, of Brenda, Dylan, Kelly, Brandon, Donna, Steve, and David. Apparently so did everyone else under the age of 30. Baby doll floral dresses and short, bandage strapped dresses started hitting EBay like mad. These aren’t vintage though. Vintage should be at least 20 years old. In 2010, we are now entering the barely acceptable range for ’90s clothes to be considered vintage. I hate to be a purist here, but it’s just not vintage. Just call it retro. And let’s leave the ’90s for the young. Only they can pull it off.


Platforms haven’t gone out of style since the 1940s. Can we still call this a trend? I say kill Uggs first. Mr. Blahnik is certainly the stiletto rebel lately – declaring he’s over the platform and walking away from Sex And The City 2? I’m certain comfort and well-placed fantasy footwear will survive the rebellion.  The platform is not a trend – it’s a staple.

enoki world platforms

Spending guilt/Thinking it over

The recession has really made us fear spending. Even when I can afford something, I second guess myself, or feel wretched for having spent that much. When it comes to vintage, if you spot a treasure and you can still pay your mortgage, jump on it and deal with the guilt later. Even as a professional, I have “slept on” vintage finds and have kicked myself  9 out of 10 times for not having purchased the item because when I finally got the guts to spend, it was gone. Responsible shopping wins every time.

photos: marketpublique.com and enokiworld.com

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1 Retro Chick { 12.30.09 at 9:58 am }

Ah fabulous post!
I’m personally petrified of 90s becoming actual vintage. What a way to make me feel old!

2 violetville { 12.30.09 at 12:14 pm }

awesome post! very thoughtful…and, i agree completely!! plus platforms are *way* more comfortable than stilettos…

3 Market Publique { 12.30.09 at 11:35 pm }

Great post!
I’m actually glad the 90s are becoming vintage – can’t wait to fish out some bustiers and cabbage rose prints. To me, it’s all the stuff I wanted to wear but wasn’t allowed to – now mom doesn’t have a say! I’ll stay away of the cut-out shoulders for now though.
Platforms will never go out of style in my book. How else can I stand tall and walk everywhere? I never liked Blahnik shoes much anyway, I’ll take Louboutins and Miu Mius over them any day.
And I totally agree about jumping on the vintage pieces – gawwd, that last paragraph just reminded me of some amazing pieces I’ve missed out us!! arghhh

4 Sandra { 12.30.09 at 11:48 pm }

Retro Chick – I am petrified as well. I was around in the ’90s. If I try to wear it now, I think I’ll just look tragic.
Violetville – amen to platforms. But you’re so tall already. Wear your flats when we hang out.
Market Publique – I can pull off the roses, but I think I’m going to find very little for my personal wardrobe from the ’90s. Especially since I just finished wearing it. You’ve got youth on your side – you can totally pull it off.
glad you ladies liked the post. It was fun to write. I pretty much ripped off Adam, but he wasn’t mad. he thought it was fun as well.

5 Va-Voom Vintage { 01.03.10 at 4:10 pm }

Oh, I am so glad to hear someone make the platforms are still in comment aside from myself. Even though I’m 5’7, my closet is loaded with platforms that I just adore. Even if they were “out” I think I’d wear them anyway…but we’re all fashion rebels to some degree, I think!

6 Jeanne Suica { 01.05.10 at 12:46 am }

Well I’m going against the grain here! I liked the 90s so much in fact I’m even going to be incorporating some 90s related posts on my blog, stay tuned, I’m sure that I’ll be able to sway some of you.
Happy New Year, Jeanne

7 Shashi { 01.06.10 at 11:04 pm }

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8 alli { 01.08.10 at 10:12 pm }

Thank you thank you thank you! I love this post. Both the “couture” mislabeling and the “90s are vintage” are HUGE peeves of mine. The internet makes selling and buying so easy but it also makes for widespread disinformation. (I’ll stop before I get ranty – just wanted to say I agree with just about everything in this particular post).
Love the blog by the way – been following for quite some time but this is my first comment.

9 Sandra { 01.09.10 at 10:26 am }

Thanks for reading Alli! I’m so glad you commented. I checked out your blog too. Love your outfit posts.

10 Sandra { 01.09.10 at 10:30 am }

Jeanne – I like the 90s when it’s fashion that was great to begin with. I’m not looking forward to everyday grunge wear though. There’s always gems in every decade, I just find fewer and fewer past the 80s.

11 Patricia Lester { 01.16.10 at 2:32 am }

I was interested to note the comments about the descriptive ‘couture’. This word is seriously misused and applied to anything to try to emphasise quality whether it is clothes or a car! It does, in fact, mean high quality sewing with attention to detail and hand work that is not available in mass produced items. Haute couture is when it is a bespoke item made for a specific customer.
The words ‘designer collection’ has also been high-jacked by the big conglomerates and is used in reference to hugely mass produced items that have been commercially enhanced into brand names and nothing to do with individuals. So many ‘out of town’ selling markets claim to have designer collections whereas in reality these are just somewhere where people are convinced that they get a designer label for less money, when they are just getting something that is on every high street around the world.
So now what words can be used for the genuine designer who makes individual clothes, in a small studio, to a high standard including an artisan quality and individuality – a dressmaker – I wonder what Charles Frederick Worth would say about that?
As for the term vintage – my that is getting so close – I always considered vintage to be out of one’s own lifetime – goodness I am getting old!

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