In these thrifty times, recycling and reusing are all becoming a necessity. But, actually, vintage and second-hand goodies for kids make sense and are often much more appealing than the latest thing. Clothes, toys, books, furniture – nothing’s sacred. I’m a bit a of fan of all things vintage, so I’ve put together a mini guide of tips and shopping destinations.
For clothes, try specialist boutiques such as Dinky Vintage. The Brighton-based shop has a great selection of antique childrenswear, ranging from the Victorian era to the 1980s, with sizes from newborn to teen. Dresses, jackets, hats, dungarees et al are complemented by a few toys and choice pieces of furniture. I’m loving this 70s Hawaiian deer shirt.
Across the Channel, French emporium Little Vintage has a beautiful collection of vintage clothing amongst the toys, furniture and decorative bits. This embroidered dress dating from 1950 is exquisite. Steptoe’s Antiques has a few more unusual accessories – from children’s beaded bags to a sporran!
We featured the sublime House of Young a while back and it really is a treasure trove of all things vintage and retro. These 60s coathangers, £6 per pair, would look fab accessorised with some Smafolk or Plastisock designs! You’ll also find crockery, furniture, toys and games.
At my mum’s house is a little wooden chair that belonged to her as a child and was used by me when I was young. Alfie adores it and it is just as sturdy now as it was then. Molly Meg is the go-to site for timeless designer children’s chairs. My absolute favourite is the Cosco. Originally designed as a car seat in the US in the 70s, the Cosco makes a perfect low-level chair and, as they are so hard to come by, has huge design kudos. This delicious olive green version is £110.
Toys and games are fantastic second-hand buys. My friend Melita and I have a quest for vintage games going on at the moment – she’s found some corkers in charity shops and I’ve snapped up the classic Ladybirds and What is it? in excellent condition for a couple of pounds each. If you’re always unlucky at jumble sales, Vintage Toy Box have done the work for you and collated a variety of games and toys in tip-top condition. Keep an eye out for Orchard, Galt and Spears-branded pieces – anyone remember Mousie Mousie and The Merry Game of Floundering? Both can be snapped up on eBay right now. Etsy is another good source – this wooden alphabet floor puzzle is just £16.45.
I’ve had a lot of luck on eBay auctions for Habitat’s superlative wooden toys in the past. These emergency vehicles were a fiver a piece and the Noah’s Ark at the top was a mere £7.01. I’ve also won a transport abacus and a stacking shapes train. I’m envisaging hiked up prices now our fave interiors store has fallen on hard times, so snap them up while you can. Super-hot buys are the airport and Modernist dolls’ house.
Fisher-Price is another name to look out for. I’m not a fan of plastic toys, but I am attracted to the 70s stylings of pieces such as the radio, chime ball, record player and the school, which I owned as a child. Hmm, must ask Mum where that’s gone. Playmobil, Brio and Lego are pricey new, but you can get great bargains in the form of bundles when people are clearing out toy cupboards. They are all very popular though, so make sure you set yourself a price limit and don’t get carried away. Persevere and you’re bound to turn up a good deal eventually.
My mum, like me, is a bit of a hoarder (I really should ask about the school). Hence, Alfie has inherited this fine vintage library and enjoys reading them as much as I did. The retro covers and illustrations in the Ladybird and Dr Seuss tomes are so much more appealing than the jazzed up modern editions somehow. We also have a few Richard Scarrys, but they don’t seem to have changed much over the years. Good book resources are the usual places: charity shops are brilliant, jumble sales, Amazon,eBay and ABE Books should be your first ports of call. I was going to write about vintage art for children’s rooms here, but there’s just too much goodness, so it deserves a post of its own. Stay tuned… And do tell us about your amazing vintage discoveries.