I’m a firm supporter of that old adage that one person’s trash is another’s treasure. Especially when that treasure arrives in the form of vintage Maxmara.
Finding authentic vintage and retro clothing here in South Africa can at times be a task of Herculean proportions – all the proper good stuff from the Forties to the Eighties has landed up either in the hands of private collectors or gathering dust in eye-wateringly overpriced boutiques like Second Time Around in Cape Town’s Long Street. The closest one can get in the average thrift store are the musty Mickey Mouse tees, acidwashed denim and triangular pantsuits of the early Nineties. Luckily enough for me, I started out my collection of thrifted fashion with various pieces that my Mum had found in the Johannesburg suburb of Hillbrow in the 1980s. Of course that was before the quaint Victorian houses were demolished for high-rise flats and the new occupants started throwing their appliances out of the windows on New Year’s Eve – but I digress. Cue a man’s dressing gown from the 1960s – made of purest cotton in a maroon paisley print and found by Mum near on twenty-something years later and my latest and most beautiful designer find yet – an authentic Maxmara coat that dates back to the early Eighties. Made of the softest new wool and in mint condition, the coat itself is about three sizes too large for me, but I wasn’t about to be silly enough to leave behind such a rare find just because of its size. It has shoulder pads that wouldn’t look out of place in a game of American football and when I wear it I have to roll up the sleeves in order to use my hands but other than resembling a Muppet in it, I reckon it was a good investment to make.
Not that R150.00 is much of an investment. Ah, one has to seriously appreciate thrift store pricing.
Sizing aside – the thing is, when I put it on, I immediately feel a little like Sean Young’s character in 1982’s neo-noir classic Blade Runner. The juxtaposition of the overlarge shoulders with the soft wool makes me feel ultra feminine and layering it over the aforementioned men’s dressing gown gives whatever outfit I decide to team these pieces with an androgynous edge. This time around I took the theme of juxtaposition even further by coupling up a lingerie-inspired camisole in black velvet with a pair of oversized peg trousers and my trusty Gazelle sneakers. I realise that the thinking behind this outfit may appear to be a little disjointed, but since I’m currently loving anything to do with the New Wave melancholia of the early Eighties I reckon I’ll stick to the antifit appearance from that time. Thus, inspired by my favourite Spandau Ballet song – Only When You Leave – I threw together a look that’s a little bit boyish, a little bit retro and a whole lot of unexpected.
And if that’s not initiative to stop buying new clothes and thrift out for a while, then I don’t know what is.
Maxmara Coat // Vintage from Coats for Africa
Paisley Dressing Gown // Vintage
Velvet Camisole // H&M
Antifit Trousers // FORTUNE
Sneakers // adidas
Images by Cie Vos