I only occasionally wear vintage these days, but I love looking at it. Above are a few snapshots I took at the Vintage Fashion Expo this past weekend. Leather jackets, Aloha shirts, and vintage tweed were everywhere. It was an orgy of old clothes, and I loved it.

The next expo is in San Francisco, November 1st and 2nd. In February, the show returns to Los Angeles, where it will run in the same building and at the same time as Inspiration LA, which I visited a couple of years ago.

Among the many pieces at the Vintage Fashion Expo in Los Angeles this past weekend were some truly spectacular Western shirts. The bottom one was the true prize - custom-made and hand embroidered for a rodeo star whose name is now lost to time. It dates to roughly the late 1940s.

I attended the Vintage Fashion Expo this past weekend here in Los Angeles. It’s a semi-annual affair that brings together dozens of vintage dealers from around the country.

Like many of these affairs, most of the dealers were women and most of the clothes were for women, but there were some men (and men’s clothes) in evidence as well. Above are a few of the dealers who travel the nation buying and selling vintage menswear.

Repeat Performance Vintage

Lately I’ve been indulging my love of vintage menswear by paging through the mid-century vintage section of eBay, looking for stuff to link to in our eBay roundups and Inside Track. Yesterday, I came upon a dealer with some really remarkable stuff: Repeat Performance Vintage, out of Los Angeles.

The owner doesn’t do shows or have a store, and sells only through eBay and a website. The stock isn’t huge, and the prices are, well, full retail, but the quality is extraordinary. I’m barely able to keep myself from buying the ivory wool suit above, which is nearly a thousand dollars.

No matter what your budget, the website’s worth a look, and there’s even more lovely womenswear than menswear. And if you need some pink poodle panties for the lady in your life, you’ve just hit the jackpot.

Spotted at Pitti Uomo.

Spotted at Pitti Uomo.

John F. Kennedy in SI, 1960

I was going through the garage of an estate sale this morning, and happened upon this old issue of Sports Illustrated. It’s from 1960 (the ad on the back references NBC’s coverage of “The NFL Championship Game”), and then-President-Elect John F. Kennedy on the ocean at Hyannisport.

For you prep fetishists, it’s close to perfection, but it’s a lovely lesson for the rest of us, too. Not much more than a blue polo, khakis, some canvas topsiders and a cotton sweater (or a tweedy sportcoat) are enough for the future president to look stunning.

Consider Vintage Ray Bans

The price of sunglasses can be pretty ridiculous nowadays, ranging anywhere from $150 to $750 for well-known brand names. And as many people know, most of those frames are just made by Luxottica – an Italian company that not only manufacturers ~80% of the major brands you see on the market, but also owns many of the retail outlets. I personally have no issue with the quality of their frames, but it’s true that their near-monopolistic position means that you’re likely paying very inflated prices. 

If you’re OK with spending that much on sunglasses, consider getting some vintage Ray Bans. Before Ray Ban became just another name under the Luxottica label, they were American owned and made by New York’s Bausch & Lomb. Those vintage frames are still being bought and sold today by boutique eyewear stores and eBay sellers, and they’re as classic in shape as anything sold today, but have a “vintage cool” factor that you won’t find anywhere else.

Some models to consider:

  • The Aviator: The most famous of Ray Ban’s frames, and the one that got Bausch & Lomb into sunglasses. Like with all the models listed here, there are a number of distinguishing marks on vintage pairs, but the most telling is whether or not you see a BL etched into the lenses (although, some vintage models dont have that BL etching, and you’ll have to search for other identifying marks). 
  • The Shooter: As the name suggests, the Shooter was originally designed for rifle shooters. They were popular in the ‘70s, and the o-ring you see at the bridge is meant to help strengthen the frames at that junction (important when bullet cartridges are flying back at your face).
  • The Outdoorsman: Another early Ray Ban model, this one was introduced in 1939 as an offshoot of the company’s famous Aviators, but designed for hunting, shooting, and fishing enthusiasts. It’s distinguished by the “sweat bar” at the bridge and temple end pieces.
  • The General: Originally released in the mid-80s for Ray Ban’s 50th anniversary, this model is one of the most coveted by collectors. The originals have a uniquely high gold content and a hollowed out font for the “50” at the lenses.

For a pair of vintage frames in good condition, you can expect to pay anywhere from ~$150 for your standard Aviators to $1,000 for The General. Unfortunately, if you have to wear prescription lenses (like me), then you may want to stick to newer models, as so much of what you’re paying for in vintage sunglasses are those original lenses. We have some suggestions in our sunglasses guide.

Discovered: The Oldest Trousers Known
These are 3000-year-old Central Asian pants, worn by horse-riding nomadic people. A generous seat and narrow legs are like modern riding pants. Personally, I’m most impressed by the beautiful weaving.
(Thanks O-Dub!)

Discovered: The Oldest Trousers Known

These are 3000-year-old Central Asian pants, worn by horse-riding nomadic people. A generous seat and narrow legs are like modern riding pants. Personally, I’m most impressed by the beautiful weaving.

(Thanks O-Dub!)

Via the Cooper-Hewitt design blog, a pair of men’s stockings from the late 18th or early 19th century. Surprisingly, they’re machine-made.

Via the Cooper-Hewitt design blog, a pair of men’s stockings from the late 18th or early 19th century. Surprisingly, they’re machine-made.

One of my favorite ways to waste time is browsing through militaria and surplus shops online. These days, your average Army-Navy store doesn’t have much actual surplus, but there are still some shops on the web which cater to enthusiasts and sell both actual old stuff and careful reproductions.

A few choice items I’ve run across lately (L to R, top to bottom), besides my old favorites, Gurkha shorts: