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Past Season or Vintage: Are Past Favorites Old or Gold?

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Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

Love, Frank has returned as a weekly style advice column. Addressing a different fashion glitch each week, he tackles all the hard-hitting issues. Submit your own query here.

Julianne Moore in some gorgeous Tom Ford-designed Yves Saint Laurent—buy it on eBay now.

Dear Frank,

I think I'm a pretty fashionable person and I would say I came into my own just when Tom Ford was reigning queen at Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent. Not surprisingly, my favorites are mostly Ford-designed.

I have a heaving closet but I do love certain things from certain collections, I just have to be very selective about what I add to it from now on. Plus, I tend to still favor things from past collections.

My question is, is it not cool to wear things that are a few seasons old? For example, I still love, love, love my Balenciaga open-toe boots from Spring 2010, not to mention all that Ford. It's not old enough to be considered vintage so is it just considered old?

Signed,
Gold, Not Old

Dear Gold,

First: I'm going with Gold, definitely not old.

Second: First World Problems, am I right?

I kid—I have wrestled with this issue myself. And I have kind of decided those antiquated notions of wearing only current season clothing are, well, irrelevant in our semi-enlightened, post-recession, slowly-greening society.

People don't cycle through the good stuff as quickly but they cycle through the cheap stuff at warp speed. There's a lot more cheap stuff; and a lot of it looks really great even if you're not going to be able to pass it along to your daughter. That means the fancy stuff stays relevant longer with brands offering stores more classic or replenishment items; plus big ticket items that focus on detail, make, and innovation (in addition to, of course, trend trend trend).

Meanwhile, the concept of high/low has taken over our collection fashion conscious thanks to Marni designing for H&M and Proenza selling through Target. To say absolutely nothing of Michele Obama wearing Talbots with Moschino and paparazzi shots of A-listers wearing Toms and Warby Parker glasses with $12,000 Balmain jeans.

As for vintage—the concept of vintage clothing has gone from something slightly taboo (used clothes are for poor people) to something Julia Roberts wears when she's going to the Oscars but isn't nominated. This happened pretty quickly—thanks to luxury vintage retailers like Decades and Resurrection as well as style icons like Rachel Zoe publicly obsessing over original Halstons and, yes, Gucci (Tom Ford, post-Tom Ford, pre-Tom Ford).

That means excellent vintage couture and designer clothing is harder and harder to come by because it's more desirable and thusly even more expensive. Hence, fewer gems at thrift stores and flea markets because everything's on eBay. While that's a bummer for those of us who enjoy the hunt—it also means the trend cycle of desirability for secondhand clothing and the length of time that needs to pass before something can be officially called vintage is shrinking. Good news for anybody who already has the stuff and enjoys shopping his or her closet, right?

High-end vintage stores are definitely not not carrying anything Tom Ford did at Gucci. They'd be stupid not to—the growing market of vintage shoppers and shrinking vintage stock practically demands they push newer items (and by that I mean items even newer and less special than your old favorites).

Of course, if you're a socialite or a celebrity then sure—wearing past season dresses can be a liability. You're getting photographed. People notice these things. And you can't just wear past season here or there, once or twice; if you decide to do it you really have to make it a statement. Like, I'm that girl; I'm a real person; I get it; I've worn this before—and my shoes are J.Crew.

And perhaps you are a socialite or a celebrity if you're trading in so much Ford.

But otherwise, I think the old rules no longer apply. I think if you love something; and it looks relevant; and it's in good shape—you should be wearing it. And, frankly, the garments Mr. Ford designs and designed are more classic luxury than overtly trendy. His pieces are almost exclusively timeless. It's not even about cuts or shapes or silhouettes—it's about a lifestyle and an over-arching look along with impeccable craftsmanship and ludicrously luxurious materials. Further: He never subscribed to Logomania—god bless him—so unless a person is a real Gucci-head their not going to know you're wearing something from 2003. They're going to know you're wearing something gorgeous.

Creepy Prada creepers, too soon, via Live Journal.

Which brings me to one major Don't: If a particular item was stupid-trendy; if it was utterly a novelty item; if any person who has ever visited Style.com can identify the label and the approximate season—keep that shit on ice. A good example: Those Prada espadrille creeper wingtips that everyone and their mom (and dad) had in a rainbow of awkward color combinations. I'm not being very opaque about how I feel about these—I think they're gross. But gross or not, you can't deny that everyone bought those and everyone wore those and everybody knows when that all happened. Keep those to yourselves—not enough time has passed.

For those—it may never be enough time.

Got a style question for Frank? Leave it in the comments or email one in here. Then buckle your two-toned leather Moschino belts, folks, because it's going to be ? Something.
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