Thursday, 10 March 2011

Review: Vintage Life Magazine

I first picked up a copy of Vintage Life Magazine last year at a fair, but now it's available in WHSmiths for the first time, which makes it an awful lot easier to get hold of without subscribing. This is a good thing because I always like to read several issues of a magazine before I decide to subscribe.

My impression of the magazine last year was that it was very enjoyable, but still a bit rough round the edges - very much a magazine for its community, but not a mainstream mag. I don't mean this as a criticism - it was still a good read. But the point is, it really needed to step up to the plate if its going to sell in shops like WHSmiths.

From reading this, I think it's fair to say it has succeeded! It still has all the things that made it good in the first place (that certain special understanding of the vintage ethos) but it's all much more polished in look and writing, and with extra pages now, better value for money too.

One of the things that it hasn't lost from  before is it's use of real (though gorgeous) women to illustrate it's articles. thank goodness! It's so hard to find magazines on fashion and beauty that do that rather than endless images of unobtainable size zeroes!

I love the use of vintage fashion pictures, and for once this is a magazine where I actually enjoy looking at the adverts instead of just flicking past them.

The most useful part for me is the advice around hair and make-up. For all the will in the world I am rubbish at those things, so I need all the help I can get! Their articles are so much better than mainstream beauty magazines because they're about showing you how to actually recreate a look, instead of just trying to sell you certain products.

On the detail of vintage fashion, there's plenty here, but naturally I wouLd like to see more. There was another in depth article about a vintage compact, but I would like to see similar dissections of specific dresses, talking about construction, style and design history etc. (I accept this may well have appeared in other issues I haven't read!). The  article on vintage sizing was very interesting and useful, as well as having a healthy and reassuring message (Marilyn Munro didn't obsess about her size; why should we?).

The articles on people in the vintage community, such as Kitten, were enjoyable reads and her independence of style is certainly inspiring! Being a lover of social history, I also loved the article on socialising during the war, hearing from the writers granny about her experiences.

If there's any critique I have it is that, while the Aya Smith fashion spread was very pretty to look at, I would have liked to see some more details about what she was wearing and where she bought them from. This isn't as simple as in modern fashion, of course, but it's frustrating to look at pretty clothes thinking "I think that's 1940s, but I'm not sure..." I wish they'd tell us! Maybe that makes me geeky!

Overall I really enjoyed the magazine, and certainly will be picking up the next copy - and since three issues is the charm, that may mean I finally give in and subscribe!


  1. I haven't had a chance to get a copy yet, so this post has been really useful x

  2. i would have liked to have seen more british articles in the mag as a lot of the references and articles were by American writers.