Question for Vintage Lovers

It’s no secret on YLF that I love vintage items – clothing, handbags, and jewelry. My sister-in-law popped by last night and we got chatting about vintage and the new vintage handbag on its way to me (thanks to MIL) and she asked if I was going to use it. To me this seemed like such a silly question – well of course I’m going to use it, just like I use all my vintage items.

She then explained that in her mind, a vintage item is something you collect, display and enjoy looking at. Using it decreases its value and adds wear and tear to the item. She asked what I will do if I use it and it eventually falls apart – won’t I feel bad? I replied that I would have enjoyed the item while using it and that was the main thing.

But it got me thinking and now I’m curious what other vintage collectors/buyers do – do you use your vintage pieces or do you “save” them?

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Gaylene replied 6 years ago

    Unless you are planning to start a museum collection in your house, why wouldn't you want to use the item? And just who would you be "saving" them for?

    Of course, there are exceptions such as items with historic or cultural significance, but, unless you are buying at Christies, most of the items that we think of as vintage have intrinsic value only for the person who buys them because they love the look of the item. Many of these vintage items would end up tossed aside if we hadn't given them a new life.

    Care for it, love it, and show it off by using it-- that seems to me to be a better way to honor that handbag.

  • modgrl replied 6 years ago

    I love to Use and Wear my vintage items. What's the point of having a museum of things you don't wear?!

  • ironkurtin replied 6 years ago

    Well, I have a 1920s sterling silver purse I inherited which I've never yet rocked out, but I certainly would if I could!

    I think some things do deserve the place of honor, but "vintage" is such a broad category. If it isn't going to fall apart when you touch it, I say wear it!

  • Aziraphale replied 6 years ago

    What? She wouldn't use the handbag? Call me weird, but vintage or no, a handbag is pretty pointless if it just sits on a shelf. :-)

    If I had vintage items such as old binoculars, say, or desk accessories that have limited use today, then I would probably just put them on display. There is a beauty to certain old-fashioned practical items, especially metal or wooden ones where the craftsman has taken care with the design and manufacture, and now those items can be "art" in their own right. It doesn't seem silly to use them for decoration. But something that you wear, like a handbag, should really be used!

  • Angie replied 6 years ago

    Remember: wardrobe items are there for you - you are not there for them.

  • MsMary replied 6 years ago

    Team Use, all the way!

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Use 'em!

    I use all my other "vintage" (i.e. antique) items as well. The chairs get sat on. The cupboards and shelves get stacked with stuff. Even the dishes get used, although of course I treat them with care.

    Old things get more beautiful with use. That's one reason we love them so.

  • Thistle replied 6 years ago

    I agree with team use.. These items are meant to be used, and perhaps one day repaired if well loved. Unless it is art, I truly believe items should be cherished and used. Think how much more you will love the handbag as you use it regularly then you will love dusting it.

  • replied 6 years ago

    Oh my. I have quite a lot of experience in the antiques business, and have been a lifelong lover of vintage. I don't buy relics to sit on a shelf and look at. My house is full of vintage things that I use on a daily basis. From a resale point of view, leaving things in pristine condition, in a box, untouched for years to "maybe" increase value is how investors treat their collections. But antiques are treasures! They were lovingly used by someone long ago....I have a rolling pin from the 1940's. I imagine a mother in her apron rolling out dough to make bread for her family, I can feel the love that was behind it. Her hands touched the very rolling pin that I now use to roll out dough for my family! Your vintage bag was loved by someone who loved fashion! These special pieces are meant to be loved and used, and then passed down for others to love and use. ;)

  • Transcona Shannon replied 6 years ago

    Thank you all for your replies - glad to see I'm not the only one who can't imagine buying a much loved piece and then shoving it away somewhere.

  • replied 6 years ago

    I think just from being in archaeology so long, I am with Team Use --- things get used, consumed, fixed, curated and handed down, thrown away. It's the whole life cycle of an object.

    Things are meant to be used, and part of their beauty is the character they gain from existing and interacting with the world. I remember as a child having a set of about 100 expensive pencil crayons, and I never wanted to use them because it would "spoil" them. I would obsess about keeping them all sharpened, and not using favourite colours too much because it would use them up too quickly, etc.

    Then one summer I was on a visit to my grandmother, and saw her little corner of a spare room that was her painting studio, and how everything was well used, and a bit worn, brushes that were almost threadbare, paint tubes all crinkled, an old butter knife with the tip broken off was repurposed as a palette knife etc. When I got home I started using those pencil crayons right away, and the more uneven and rough they looked, the more beautiful they became to my eyes.

    I always feel a little sad for cache blades and the like - they were created and then buried forever without getting to be used.

  • Jjsloane replied 6 years ago

    I love vintage and buy it to use and admire it in action as intended. I do treat certain items with more care because they need it and I know I cannot so easily replace them. I don't believe in collecting just to stash away for future potential worth.

  • Sylvie replied 6 years ago

    I'm all about using and abusing my things. You can't keep items in a hermetically sealed box to prevent decay and there's no point in doing so. You don't get more "points" if you collect things. There's a place for sentimental and display items but that place is *SMALL*.

  • DonnaF replied 6 years ago

    Use but treat with respect. Don't lend to anyone (like my teen!) who will throw it in a corner, step on it, and otherwise abuse it. I believe in a curated wardrobe, but the curator doesn't need to be the head of a museum!

  • Krista replied 6 years ago

    I don't mean this in a bragging kind of way, but part of the appeal of vintage items for me is the "Oooooh!" factor you get from others when you wear your vintage items in a stylish way. And vintage items not only have a wow factor, they have a story factor - I like to think about the stories that the item holds - what could it tell me if it could speak? And then I add my own story to it by wearing it and showing off it's beauty.

  • lyn* replied 6 years ago

    I use and wear all of my vintage things! If they fall apart, oh well, I'll look for another vintage treasure!

    PS: IT takes FOREVER for them to fall apart!

  • LeahJanes replied 6 years ago

    I wear my vintage without fail, but I do have a few dresses that I love so much, and that are *very* old and *very* delicate and truly one of a kind. I make a point of not wearing these as often as I'd like to keep them for as long as possible. I keep them for more occasions where I know I'm not going to get them stained or torn.

  • Deborah replied 6 years ago

    Definitely wear and enjoy your vintage pieces. I am very attracted to vintage items. Only some work in with my style so I am very selective about what I do buy and part of my criteria is that I am absolutely able to wear it. For me wearing and using these items is a must.

  • christieanne replied 6 years ago

    Team Use even if rarely. I do have some bags that rarely get an occasion out (mostly evening bags) but I try to sport my vintage jewelry and coats often.

    I recently took on the storage and possible restoration of my great grandmothers wedding dress and accessories. That won't be Team Wear any time soon as she must have been a size zero and under 5 foot tall - she married in 1890's. Fun to take it out and look at it but not sure what to do with it.

  • Echo replied 6 years ago

    The vast majority of vintage pieces - especially when it comes to clothing, shoes and handbags - have little or no collector's value. They are simply older items in a distinct style from another time. Unless they are highly coveted as collector's pieces or highly valued due to who they belonged to or who they were designed or made by, then there is absolutely no reason not to use them. And even if they ARE collector's items, they still belong to you and you can do as you please with them. I see little point in buying vintage and stashing it away. Most of it simply gets older, not more valuable, so enjoy it!

  • Mama Susie replied 6 years ago

    Oooh wear all the way. I love vintage. Wish I owned more so that I could wear more!

  • cheryle (Dianthus) replied 6 years ago

    Absolutely wear. For items that are normally considered disposable, I see no value in having them unless they are used. I also don't have furniture that isn't used or dishes that only come out on special occasions though.

  • crutcher replied 6 years ago

    I had been trolling forever to find a vintage rhinestone choker necklace...Found one at an estate sale and was fortunate enough to bid and win...I wear this beauty everyday...and get tons of compliments on it...The necklace is beautiful and unique and adds a statement piece to me...
    Not wear "Miss Zelda" necklace has a name...would just be not true to me...
    By all means wear it, to not do so would be an insult to your dear MIL..

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