Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Minxy Vintage: How to Customize and Wear Vintage Clothing. A Review

I can't remember now how I first heard about this book. Probably some random internet meanderings...needless to say I read about it, curiosity took over and about 20 minutes later I'd ordered it on Amazon.

Aesthetically, it's a beautiful book. Lovely textured hardcover and glossy pages filled with stunning photos. It even has a little ribbon bookmark. A pretty book worthy of any coffee table.

I have mixed feelings about the content, however. It is beautifully written - somewhat flowery, somewhat conversational. But I would argue that this book is more inspirational rather than a "How To" book as the title claims.

The book is separated into chapters, each one dedicated to a different type of clothing to be re-invented: dresses, wedding wear, jackets and coats, tops and blouses, skirts etc...
Each chapter begins with a double page spread called "Work in Progress" showing a few of the items before Kelly customized them along with sketches and notes about the work to be done - kindof like a scrapbook or inspiration board. The following pages show Kelly modelling her  custom work in beautiful photos alongside a personal story about each item and a quick overview of the work she did to  customize each piece.

I was disappointed that there were not before, in-progress and after shots of each piece. You only get to see styled, editorial "after" shots of most of the items and in some cases it's difficult to see what the piece looks like due to the nature of the photograph. For the clothing featured with before photos in the "Work in Progress" section I had to flip back and forth to compare - which I found a bit annoying.
I also couldn't help but wish for some more details - photos, step by step details etc. - about how she revamped each piece. I found her descriptions quick and a bit of a tease - I wanted to know more!

If you are new to vintage, have some basic sewing techniques in your back pocket, find yourself falling for pieces with a bit too much wear and don't know how to fix them I would recommend this book for inspiration only. If you are a beginner seamstress, however, this book will not be helpful - Kelly is clearly a skilled seamstress and assumes the reader knows what she does. At times her 'restoration' instructions are too vague for even a intermediate seamstress like myself to follow.

So, in terms of a "How To" book it's a bit of a fail for me. This being said, I am not disappointed with my purchase. I found her ideas very inspiring - particularly how she dyes vintage clothing to make it new. This is something I'm now keen to try more of on different items. My favourites were a dyed wedding dress (see the centre image in the picture collage below), a dyed girdle and dyed cardigan.
I am also inspired to deconstruct dresses with too much wear into either a skirt and or a blouse (see the bottom left corner of the photo collage for an example of a dress made skirt in Kelly's book).
I already employ most of her techniques in regards to cleaning, repairing, re-beading, taking in and hemming - so this was nothing new to me. I have on occasion revamped a piece entirely, but I find it rather time consuming. Kelly makes it look so good though I'm considering pulling some half finished projects out of the closet for another round.

If you love beautiful books and are keen for some inspiration I would recommend Minxy Vintage. If you are looking for a step by step guide on how to alter and restore vintage clothing, keep moving, this book isn't for you.



  1. I have seen this book before and wondered about it:) You did a great review. I think for me when I was younger I used to really hard core re-vamp pieces many I wish I hadn't "killed" I can sew but am by no means perfect so sometimes my projects just didn't work out. I have dyed items, and 100% made dresses into skirts or a top (I still quite like to do that...) I should stay away from this book things like that make me want to go thrifting and come home with projects...

  2. I saw this book a while back, but didn't get a chance to look inside! Inspiration is always welcome! X

  3. This hefty tome was already one my (admittedly ridiculously gigantic) Amazon wishlist when it was very sweetly given to me as a Christmas gift last year, and I must say my feelings on it echo yours a great deal. Overall, it is a beautiful book and a fun, inspiring read and I'm very happy to have it on my shelves, but it wasn't exactly - for better or worse - what I'd envisioned it to be either. How interesting that we both felt this way about it - I wonder if other readers did, too?

    ♥ Jessica

  4. I had exactly the same impressions about this book. I picked up a copy last summer and, while a beautiful book, not very useful as far as revamping/repairing vintage. C'est la vie.

  5. Thanks for sharing. i really appreciate it that you shared with us such a informative post..

    vintage clothing


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