Desirable vintage clothes that have been selected and sorted from mere
old clothes are often sold through auctions. Auction houses such as
Christies and William Doyle hold regular auctions of textiles to include not
only vintage garments and accessories, but also linens, textile drapes,
curtains, shawls etc.
Even if you can't get to these auctions buying the catalogue is an
informative treat for any vintage collector. You can also browse their
online catalogues nearer the auction dates of specific textile sales. Estimates, labels and eras are
highlighted and help give sellers a feel for what is currently happening in
vintage textile sales.
Clothes do cost more when bought this way, but if it saves you time and
energy and you hate rummaging among old clothes this may be the best way for
you to buy vintage. Beware though of jumping on the vintage bandwagon if
it's not really your style just because it has been currently fashionable
for the past decade. Many people consider vintage to be a rip off and if you
don't know your stuff that is exactly what it can be.
Other auctions take place on the internet and a search through
Google will soon reveal listings, but several links are shown further down.
When you search the internet for vintage, you will find more
interesting sites if you add a designer name like Enid Collins or Hermès or
Fortuny or Balenciaga or other designer names to the word vintage, than just keying in simplistic
phrases like vintage clothes or vintage fashion. Living designers such
as Zandra Rhodes are highly collectible. Google will search deeply
and find the sites that really have better quality items if you search well. Any vintage seller who can describe a scarf as Hermès or a bag as Enid
Collins probably has good vintage stock generally.
If wary about internet trading because of sizing, it is better to buy accessories, blouses, coats or knitwear on the
internet rather than garments like dresses which have more sizing problems
attached to them. Dresses, particularly closely fitted figure
skimming ones, cannot be be worn with as much ease as the other items
mentioned. The accessories on offer can also add a great sense of vintage
panache to a contemporary ensemble.
Accessories to look out for include scarves, bags, shawls, stoles, belts,
snoods, hair ornaments, hats, umbrellas, footwear, evening purses and face
compacts. One site where you can view some interesting handbags is vintage-instyle.com where you can see
and buy wearable art and need never worry about garment fit.
Specialist Shops are probably the best place to buy if you are seeking
particular 50's style items by specific designers. You leave your details
with the shop and they contact you when they have an item that fits your
request so you can take a look. Repeat customers often get good discounts
from local dealers.
I'm listing a small selection here of my personal favourite vintage and
vintage related sites, because frankly there are so many sites that are
trading on the word vintage when what they mean is retro or even brand new
rather than vintage in the true sense of the word. I have tried to
omit those with flashing dark backgrounds, difficult navigation, and
inappropriate use of the word vintage. The list is in no particular
order and all these sites were functioning on 2 March 2009. I'm sure
you'll enjoy them if costume history is your passion.
http://www.antique-fashion.com/ For superb lace goods, lappets,
collars and engageantes, splendid vintage costumes, vintage riding and
sports wear, Cloisonné buttons, corsets, bustles and other lingerie.
This is Karen Augusta's eclectic vintage textiles site.
A good list of links and much much more about vintage.
Garments begin as tiny thumbnails, but info and pictures are generally
good on the page details. Limited items from Victorian era, but
plenty from 1920s onward. The thumbnails go to attractive
pages and reveal lots of detailed photographs.
Famous for being the first vintage site on the web. Mainly stocks
everyday clothing items circa 1940 to 1980. Accessories, bags,
hats costume jewellery and shoes are frequently good. Often has
everyday stockings or nice gloves that have been kept in someone's
drawer for years. You will find lots of unusual items there like 1950s's
bathing hats, bras, sunglasses, spectacles and bathing suits. Such
items would be out of place on sites with a narrower couture brief.
The everyday clothes here may be very suited to drama/film productions
with big casts.
Affordable, but most items less likely to ever be investment items.
The most expensive item on their site at the time of writing was $400
for a sixties wedding dress and many items are under $100 with even more
around $30 to $85. I like the site because it is quick and
functional offering a fast page of thumbnail images allowing you to
explore further for greater detail. It's a family business that
understands what it's selling, knows it's market and does not try to
make the goods into something they are not. You may well
find an item there if you are interested in this level of vintage.
is featured in the collect fifties vintage section of this site
here and sells all types of vintage clothing and accessories.
There you can also often buy Vintage dress patterns such as the Patou
one below. I recall making a Vogue Couture pattern by Patou up for
ball gown in the late 1960s. The cut was wonderful so such
old patterns can be very rewarding when made up. I am sure this
example would give any woman a good figure with its superb designer cut.
http://www.vpll.org/ The Vintage
Pattern Lending Library. I like this site. It's a site that
you can browse through for interesting information on past dressmaking
patterns. Looking at pictures on old dress or garment patterns is
http://www.fabrics.net/joan.asp I absolutely love going
to this page url as a starting point. You could spend quite a lot
of time here. Ideal for people who like antique and vintage
textiles in general. Joan writes informed, interesting articles
about aspects of vintage textiles.
Fashion-Era.com looks at women's costume and fashion history and analyses the mood of an era. Changes in technology, leisure, work, cultural and moral values. Homelife and politics also
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