Dec 9, 2013

What Makes Me Buy A Vintage Dress

I have thought recently about what makes me buy a vintage dress for resale. After 21 years in business, I have done just that some 2400 times. And that just the dresses and suits. Not the  hats, coats, shoes, accessories, blouses, skirts I have bought. Just dresses and suits.

So what makes me get out the check book?

Color. A good color. An interesting, preferably flattering color.  I will still buy black, but it has to be really wonderful. After some 500 black or partially black dresses, it's harder to get enthused. Possible, but  harder.  Pink, blue, red, gold, purple(always), green, prints, Color.

Size: This one is harder. I try to avoid the really tiny 24" and under waists. There are small women, and they do buy vintage. But there aren't that many of them, and there is a lot of tiny vintage. I will buy small if it's interesting in other ways and attractively priced. The opposite issue is too large a size. Everyone goes on about "how all the vintage is so small", yet really larger sizes can be a hard sell as well.

Design: This is a big factor. Visual appeal, unusual details, thoughtful elements, and strong choices will make me get out the cash. A lot of this is just instinct. 

Quality: Always a plus, but these days I really seem to be looking for good quality fabrics and construction, rather than the flashy/fancy but cheap.

Condition: Also a bigger factor than it once was for me. I now have a much better sense, gleaned from expensive trial and error, of what can be fixed or cleaned, and what can't. Also, what work the customers are willing to pay for, what flaws they are willing to accept, and what dresses are so special that minor flaws can be forgiven .    

Age: Older is no longer always best. I still buy and sell Victorian pieces, and the 1920s - 1950s have been our mainstay for a long time. But age is no longer the primary factor for me. I will buy 60s and 70s, and will now even look at some 1980s if it's a great, quality garment. 

So here's an example of the thought process.

Exhibit A:

Fun color - a bright coral. That's what caught my eye on in the booth. Period? Mid 1940s, always a winner. Design details? The flowers, the intricate seaming of the bodice, the waist tie and pleats, and the flutter sleeves. At this point, I am almost sold. Now I am looking for reason Not to buy. Quality - it is a nice weight wool and well made. Not 'designer' quality, but it's a good mid range dress. Condition - this is really good. Just needs a little bit of the  hem sewn back in and a dry-cleaning to freshen it up. 

1940s Vintage Coral Wool Day Dress  SZ S
 currently available at Past Perfect Vintage


Featherstone Vintage said...

Fabulous post! The more experience I have selling online, the more I notice how different the market is compared to shop front retail. Your advice on selling black is a big one. Not a lot of people will search the web for a classic black dress, it needs something to make it stand out.

Lisa said...

That dress….if only I had a 26 inch waist..I'm a 27 inch waist instead… *sigh*

Love your taste in vintage. All of these points are very clear to me when I browse your shop.