Any vintage clothing experts?(18 Posts)
I am considering selling some vintage ball gowns and coats that I shan't wear again. They are very high quality, but not quite couture, from the 1920s through to the 1950s, and then my own now redundant designer suits from the mid-80s to about 1999. I think they are probably going to be of interest to film and TV costume companies or dealers. How do I go about setting a sensible price?
Research research research.
I buy and sell vintage dresses.
Check Etsy for a price guide, but how I go about pricing something is thus:
- is it wearable? A lot of 1920s stuff is simply too fragile to wear these days, it does affect the price. 50s dresses can have ripped netting, dodgy zips etc.
- what is the sizing? A lot of the 20s/30s stuff I find I have to discard due to the teeny tiny sizing. People genetally aren't that small anymore.
- who was it made for originally? 1920s flapper dresses made for bright young things are worth £££££££s. Granny's sensible walking dress not so much. People want their vintage clothing to 'fit the bracket' as it were.
- be careful with costume depts. I work for a costume hire company and certain things are ten a penny. We are swimming in 50s prom dresses and 60s shift dresses. We are selling a lot of them right now.
A lot of TV/film companies don't keep their costumes afterwards, especially if they weren't made for that individual show/film. Theatres do tend do but they won't buy for a lot of money, they rely on donations. And unless they are sourcing for something specific they won't buy them.
You can PM me pics if you want and I can give my opinion.
I love my job!
Thanks for your reply, IJustLosttheGame. The clothes came from my great aunt, who was about a 16 then, but a decent size 12 nowadays, plus one from my great grandmother.
The former is a sheer black lace shift dress, ankle length, with a silky black undershift and a black lace jacket with chiffon edgings and ties. It is very fragile.
Second, is a black bias cut silk satin 1930s gown with diamante on the shoulders and edging a plunging back, sleeveless, with a dropped false drape so the shoulder is exposed but any bingo wing disguised, and a full length flowing skirt. Very wearable and elegant, I have been told it is museum quality.
Then there is a very formal black wool dinner dress, made for a cousin's 21st about 1947. It's fitted, long very narrow sleeves, with a three tiered pencil midi skirt and a bustle with a bow. Each tier is grosgrain trimmed, and the scoop neck has a panelled section with the effect of a man's dress shirt with a slight sheen. I have worn it for formal dinners in the City.
I am keeping a purple taffeta ball skirt that I had cut down from a 1950s dress where the bodice was ruined by a perished hot water bottle, because it is incredibly useful for modern formal wear, with a silky T shirt or a dressy cashmere top in winter.
And I have a late 1950s cocktail dress, also black, with a fitted beaded bodice, sleeveless, crew neck, and a circular three layer chiffon shirt in black and flesh, that I was given. It fits a (modern) size 8-10 and is below the knee.
I am a narrow hipped hourglass in a 12, but by the standards of the day, I would be a 14-16! And they are the right length for someone reasonably proportioned of 5' 4". I will be doing some pictures, but probably not today. Would be very interested in any thoughts you have! And thank you again.
A lot of the 20s/30s stuff I find I have to discard due to the teeny tiny sizing. People genetally aren't that small anymore
If you find vintage blogs and communities you do find a few of us 'that small' who will be very savvy and offer a fair price (in the main).
If you have enough stuff you could try a vintage fair?
Or a (reputable) physical shop might be able to do you a fair deal, though obviously not retail.
There are Ebay selling groups but TBH these are so horrendously and notoriously cliquey that some very, very well known sellers and bloggers I know even steer clear.
Research widely on Etsy and Ebay. Etsy has lost respect recently because some sellers bump up prices ridiculously for the mainstream 'want some vintage for my prom/wedding' market, way more than you'd find in a physical shop with more overheads. Take an average. However Ebay is flooded with poorly listed stuff and thus things can go far too low.
A good rule of thumb is 50s dresses - as Ijustlost mentions they are not uncommon. If you see run-of-the-mill non collector stuff for £90+ the Etsy shop is a piss taker.
This is another good source of info with a forum, used it to date some stuff which was not my era and some US designers I knew little about after some impulse buys! vintagefashionguild.org/
This is a useful blog. They also deal and looking at what you have might be interested - of course that would not be retail value as they have to make a profit. advantageinvintage.co.uk/
Thanks squizita, all useful advice. Have now spent a couple of hours trawling through Etsy and I can see exactly what you mean, but I've now managed to find some promising dealers within a couple of hours drive time and will phone to talk first!
And two more, being the back views of dresses two and three!
Wonderful dresses. I would take them to the dealers to get a feel of prices. You can try and sell on eBay. My SIL does this all the time very successfully. If they have a makers name, research the maker. Any information helps. Also give exact measurements - sizes, as we know, are all different.
There is only only dress that is not tailor made, and that came from the USA! They are modern size 12 but not generously so; which was a 16 then (judging by a 1940s dress that I am keeping to wear). They were family dresses handed down to me because I was the same size and shape as the lady for whom they were made.
Photos of the labels are always good. They can verify realness (i.e. some people save the labels from ruined designer pieces and sew them into inferior pieces, so dealers will look at the thread they are sewn in with and it's a good sign it's real if it is the same age as the piece) and also date (a good example is good old M&S, formerly St Michael and all the different fonts used over the years. There are directories that can be consulted for almost every known label!).
I've just googled Pat Sandler, and they come up dead expensive... nearly $1000 for a cocktail dress of approximately the same era! My flabber is gasted.
Yeah! Get that label verified and write down your provenance (ie you know where it came from) and you might consider putting it up for specialist auction or going via a high-end dealer in rare/designer vintage?
The label is authentic. I was lent, then given, the dress by a friend (I think she was given it too) in the early 1980s in NY to wear to a very swish occasion, and haven't worn it since about 1984, but equally it hasn't been out of my closet. My friend was a buddy of Susan Sarandon's at the time, but I can't say that was where it came from. I can see on Firstdibs that it looks collectible. It's the one that I like least; the others are much more flattering on real-life (middle aged but well maintained) bodies. Specialist auctions, how to contact? Complete novice here, but fascinated. I don't think E Bay is the market somehow! I'm just reluctant to be --rolled over--offered peanuts for a dress that gives a dealer a mahoosive profit.
Oh yes sorry I know it's authentic but for that label you want a valuation from someone respected if you want to sell yourself.
Look up antique auctions and see if they do specialist vintage clothing sales. Get a valuation. A high end proper (bricks and mortar) shop might be able to help you - but that item, personally I'd think of it like a valuable antique.
Wow these are epic!
As a ballpark I'd say the pat sandler dress is worth around £400-£450. It's beautiful, wearable and the designer is known (and good)
That long silk evening dress is stunning, I'd be tempted (just from the pictures) to say the same just because people don't wear long gowns as much anymore. However someone who specialises in hiring these things out may well offer £700 because the condition is really good.
The best people to contact are Kerry Taylor auctions. They deal with high end and couture vintage clothing. They can give you the best appraisals, sell items and they already have a client base.
I would be running around squealing if someone had left me those!
I've always loved them, and looked after them like children! Thanks for all the inputs, squiz and IJustLost .
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