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Vintage Clothes 8
 Collecting Eclectic Vintage with
 Contentmentfarm Example 1

By Pauline Weston Thomas for


Collect Eclectic Vintage Dresses with Contentmentfarm


Which Era Suits Your Figure?

People worry about vintage clothes not fitting them, yet there are so many items that are beautiful, just admiring world of vintage clothing does not mean you have to wear it!  Even with vintage dresses you can just admire items for their sheer artistry.

If you want to collect garments to wear yourself you need to decide on an era or eras.  If the 1890s, 1900s, or vintage 1950s is the era you see yourself in because you have an hour glass figure, a neat waist and a well proportioned bust, start collecting the era now.  If you are tall and leggy you will be better off collecting the sixties and if you are straight all the way down then think about collecting the 1920s.  If you are dainty and flat stomached go for the flirtatious and stylish bias cut clothes of the 1930s.  The main thing is to figure out your era and wear what suits you best.

Collections can be made from any area of textiles or dress and one person who has antique and vintage textile related goods to suit all tastes, is Candy Shiveley of Contentment Farm Antiques, New England.  Museum quality clothing and accessories sit happily amid the once everyday, but now more rare vintage textile or textile related items. 

At various times her stock includes hats of many descriptions from Regency, Victorian to C20th.  In addition she sells male and female vintage dress, footwear, lace collars, blouses, reticules, parasols and stoles.  For some considerable time I've enjoyed browsing her web pages at Ruby Lane.  I love looking at the early Romantic and Victorian dresses and gorgeous Edwardian gowns and 1920s flapper dresses that drip with lace, beading, embroidery or fur.  I'm equally thrilled by the lovely shawls and antique quilts she also carries.  Here are some typical examples of items she has had on her site recently and all pictures enlarge. Vintage Garments

Detail of hem on vintage Romantic Dress Vintage Romantic Dress from Back view of train of Late Victorian Vintage Gown from Detail of dress back bodice lace with rose trim.

The first 2 photos show typical detailed decoration of the hem on a C19th Romantic dress which would have been worn over an under slip.

 The very late Victorian Battenburg trained lace dress below may well have been a wedding dress.  The 1920s vintage flapper dress below has panels of hand smocking and laid satin work organic forms amid beading decoration. The 1920's vintage coat is decorated with coiled Soutache braid and is quintessentially twenties in style and has incredible garment panache.

Vintage Battenburg Lace Trained Dress from Detail of Decoration on Vintage 1920s Dress from Vintage 1920s Dress from Vintage 1920s Coat from

Images by arrangement with

If you plan to wear your vintage buys on rare occasions, and not everyone buys to wear their garments, do consider buying a garment that is too big for you by a size or two.  Usually a good seamstress can re tailor aspects of a garment to your body shape. 

In the early 20th century skirt waistlines were much smaller than those of today with their more generous measurement for a thicker waist.  You might for example need to buy a suit going for the larger skirt if you are thicker waisted and hip heavy compared to your top half.  Then you would need to have the bust altered on the jacket or bodice.  Look carefully at the garment and see how feasible it would be for someone experienced to alter it.  But remember, if a major alteration is required you may well spoil the intrinsic qualities of the original garment.  Vintage garments are less stable than new garments and those with fragile lace and nets should all be treated with respect.

Contentmentfarm sells a very wide eclectic range of original vintage and I have come to much admire Candy's styling and choice of goods.  One aspect I particularly like about the contentmentfarm site, is that if you are interested for example in the 1920s, you would be able to find not only a 1920's dress listed, but probably some shoes and a hat that might coordinate to make a full outfit. Vintage 1920's Textiles

1920s Hat 1920s Shoes for Dancing 1920's Assuit Stole 1920s Trapunto Quilted Hat.

The items above would mix wonderfully in a 1920's ensemble. The end picture shows the detail of Trapunto Quilting on a 1920's Appliqué  hat which is also shown in this page header.  Smaller units like these are also often very affordable compared to gowns and can be mixed with modern items or reproduction clothing too.

Images above and in the header by arrangement with

In addition has great examples of antique patchwork and appliqué quilts and wonderful reticules or other bags neither of which need to be fitted to the body!  So whatever your size you can become a passionate collector of antique and vintage textiles.

Whatever you decide to do, do remember that antique and vintage items cannot be worn quite as often as you might wear a modern dress or suit made of new modern materials.  Even mint garments that are older and therefore more fragile.  Occasional wear is suitable for many garments, but some should really just be collected to be displayed, loved and looked at.  I'm sure you'd find many examples at this particular vintage site to satisfy your taste and your eyes.  On the next page you can see some typical vintage shawls and quilts.


(Page Date 1 Mar 2005)

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