As I imagine most vintage lovers to be, I am a pack-rat. I am sentimental about objects and fascinated with their histories; I like to keep old things – especially old things that once belonged to family members or people I love – because they feel valuable and somehow sacred.
This is very impractical. I would blame it on cramped New York living quarters, but my mother’s house (a three bedroom which she added on to because she has so many treasures she can’t part with) is also bursting at the seams. But this article isn’t about tossing what you love… exactly. It’s about living with them in ways that let you appreciate them. Inspired by Monica Rich Kossan’s web site, The Fine Art of Family, and her new book Living With What You Love, here are a few ideas for incorporating less-used but sentimentally valuable vintage items into your daily life.
Think outside the (photo) box. I used to think of lockets as prim, heart-shaped things given to five year old girls. But if you look, you can find grown-up lockets to fit any style. I have a silver locket from Monica Rich Kossan’s line that holds pictures of my grandparents from the 1940s. They’re two of my favorite photos, and now instead of being tucked away somewhere, I can carry them with me wherever I go.Â
Don’t be afraid to modify. I found a blog post on FashionJenn.com about how she turned a dowdy coat that had been her grandmother’s into something adorable she’ll wear all the time (she even used the velvet collar to make a cool accessory). You can do the same thing with vintage jewelry, taking apart pieces you’ll never wear and fashioning them into something deeply personal and unique. If you’re not comfortable cutting up or disassembling things yourself, find a seamstress or jewelry designer to help.
Cross the line. Old movies like Gone with the Wind and The Sound of Music have taught us that housewares can become dresses, so why can’t dresses become housewares? If you have old clothing that has a small stain or is just not your style or size, turn it into a pillow or a chair cushion. An old silk gown you’ll never wear can become a part of a beautiful bedroom, or a funky pattern on your mom’s psychedelic 60s skirt could add some color to your kitchen chair.
1. Photos inside my locket Monica Rich Kossan
2. Locket from Monica Rich Kossan
3. Coat Before, FashionJenn.com
4. Coat After, FashionJenn.com
5. Neck Accessory, FashionJenn.com
6. Chair from GussyChairs.com