A New Ponderable - What do you look for and why do you buy it?

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Vintage Fashion Q & A' started by pastperfect2, Apr 9, 2004.

  1. pastperfect2

    pastperfect2 Trade Member

    I am always curious about other people's collecting habits. And not just because I am a seller, but because I am a collector, too. I don't know a vintage dealer who isn't, to tell you the truth.

    Myself, I used to buy a lot of fans and celluoid hair combs, but have tapered off the the last few years as I am seeing mainnly ones very similar to what I have already. And the prices have really gone high in shops.

    Now with clothing, my strategy for a long time was just that is had to be old, cool and affordable. For the last few years I have been trying to focus more on accesories to fill out ensembles. So more hats and shoes. And I must admit I have gotten in the habit of keeping maybe one item when I aquire big lots. Or if I find something I really love that I know I won't find again any time soon.

    I have also expanded into more modern labels. But I have let all the bowling shirts go. It just seemed time. And tastes change.

    The funny thing is, I really like 1930s and 40s, but rarely keep it in the collection. It just doesn't occur to me. But let me find a good teens dress or Victorian piece and it's has a new home.

    So what do you fancy? and why? How have your collecting strategies developed?

  2. Jonathan

    Jonathan Trade Member

    I am drawn to the typical and the obscure, and condition is everything.
    I want the most textbook perfect examples of style for each period, in day, afternoon, and evening wear, and then I want the weird stuff - the fancy dress, riding habit, sports costume, or whatever from the same period that reflects all the fashionable ideals of the period in an unusual style garment.

    So, for example, the late Edwardian period (1909 - 1914). I have examples of a hobbled afternoon dress, hobbled walking suit, directoire revival afternoon dress, bicycling suit, riding habit, bathing costume, Liberty's evening coat, maid's costume, and a utilitarian travelling suit. I am still looking for the ultimate evening gown. I have owned many, but the condition has been an issue on all of them (they tend to be lined with tin-weighted silk which are falling apart).

    Most important to me in all these is condition. I want total authentic originality, with no missing belts etc. I am constantly upgrading, so if something comes along that is better than what I own, I turf the collection piece and move the new piece in to replace it. I need to do more of this as well, as I tend to have many duplicates of some items, like 1950s cocktail dresses and suits (but these are all by different designers, so I feel I can use that as an excuse...)
  3. Jonathan

    Jonathan Trade Member

    Oh, and needless to say.... I am also acquiring all the bits to go with this -- so the hats, shoes, stockings, underwear, corsetry, jewellery, hair pieces, gloves, lace, parasols, suitcases etc. that are needed to make these complete ensembles.
  4. pastperfect2

    pastperfect2 Trade Member

  5. Leisa

    Leisa Registered Guest


    nuff said. :D
  6. cherry-pie-and-roses

    cherry-pie-and-roses Registered Guest

    Gosh....I crave a lot of things.

    I don't wear any vintage to speak of right now because I'm pretty much "out of the size range," so I'm leaning towards accessories, mostly handbags, wovens from British Hong Kong. And NIB leather wallets & french purses, mostly Lady Buxton or Princess Gardner.

    And for some reason, I've been attracted to NOS manicure sets made in Germany (pre-WWII) in leather holders. Have found several unusual lucite & bakelite handles.

    And, of course, my fav gloves and shoes (when a certain VFG member/seller will give up the size 9's-LOL).

    And textiles & linens. Perfect ones are better, but I get cutters too...just can't bring myself to cut them.

    I like stuff...period. If you could see my Dining Room. Wait! Is there really a Dining Room under & behind all those boxes? I'm not really sure anymore.

  7. Well, I'm still too 'green' to respond with wishes of Jonathan's and Hollis' depth. Yet, I've always had insane love for hats, purses, slips, and long gloves. I've aspired to at least one, killer, wearable outfit from each of the decades of 20s/30s/40s/50s/and 60s.

    I don't care if hats fit. I just love them and two walls of my home are decorated with them. I can rationalize all kinds of purses awaiting outfits. Slips must fit. Gloves must fit and must match slips.

  8. Oh, GAD! How could I have forgotten shoes--my Achilles heel? ...love, love, love 'em more than all else, but still only even consider keeping them if they fit (or almost, in a masochistic way even, fit) me. :)
  9. camelbackcat

    camelbackcat Trade Member

    For my own collections, I am drawn to a number of different things: I have an insane love of silk kimonas. Actually, any really beautiful silk jacket is something I will buy. Then, there is my bizarre love for Catherine Ogust dresses. I counted them, yesterday, and I have over 30. I don't collect them because they are of great worth, but I love the fabric and design. I'm a major purse and shoe addict. I have 4 large tiers of shelves filled with purses. I,especially, love the really, really well-made leather and suede ones and I have a special weakness for beaded bags. Of course, I have so many, now, that I'm more discriminating in my buying habits. I love shoes and always have. For personal wear, I have a very large collection of older Ferragamos, Guccis, St. Laurents, Diors, and Chanels. I also have a fairly large collection of my favorite, Maude Frizon. Another weakness is scarves. I have way too many now and have had to become more discriminating...ie: must be flawless, pure silk, hand rolled hems, and a design that appeals to me. Lastly, there is my love of silver jewelry and quirky jewelry. In fact, I tend to buy things that are at the two extremes...very tailored and sleek or very quirky and eccentric. I'm not a serious collector...just a flea market buyer who appreciates good craftsmanship, something that's different, and something that speaks to me.
  10. ourbabyroo

    ourbabyroo Registered Guest

    <i>I can rationalize all kinds of purses awaiting outfits.</i>

    That is me! Now, if I could only find the outfits that go with them ;)
  11. crinolinegirl

    crinolinegirl Alumni

    When I first started collecting, I used to buy everything Victorian or Edwardian I could get my hands one regardless of condition or price(LOL, I think most of us start out that way!) :)

    Although I do love all antique costume, there are 3 areas where my heart lies: antique undersupports (corsets, bust bodices/very early bras, bustles, hoops, etc), sidesaddle habits (and related equipement) and over the past year, early/ mid 19th century shoes (Jonathan I will never ever know as much as you when it comes to them but hope you don't mind if I pick your brain about them everynow and then! :)) .

    I do have Victorian and Edwardian dresses in my collection along with bodices, skirts and other stuff but frankly, I don't find them half as interesting to collect as I do my 3 favorite areas. I think I tend to collect things that relate to my own interests in my non vintage life.
    Of course if I do come across something rare (like my straw parasol) then I don't mind adding them into my collection either. Condition isn't really important to me with regards to corsets or sidesaddle habits though as they are so hard to get but it is becoming a factor with other things I consider when adding them into my collection.

    Lately I've found that with regards to collecting corsets, that my habits have been changing for that too. I'm beginning to want to collect types of antique corsets rather than everyone I come across which is why I want a spoon busk one so bad.

    I'm trying to work on creating a collection with focus but which also contains a varied bunch of interesting things if that makes sense!

  12. artisannes

    artisannes Trade Member

    I am always on the look out for certain designers and have been trying to buy more selectively - having filled virtually an entire house ! When I first started I probably bought too much and I suppose one finds a certain calm in buying less but better quality.

    But I also am always on the look out for 50's clothing to wear during the day - Lucy type dresses I suppose - huge circle skirts and New Look suits. And for the summer I adore the Hawaiians because they are cool to wear and, being cotton are easy to wash.

  13. elsewhere

    elsewhere Guest

    I'm in the handbag catagory. I have so many purses.. some I use, some I just look at. I have large vintage tote bags with hawaiian prints and rhinestones & big woven tourists bags with a flower design in colored yarn.... I have tiny red figural looking purses that you can't fit much in... black corde purses.. small 50's beaded clutches. On and on. I'm generally drawn to the unusual, and the majority of my purses are red. I'm drawn to ones that are unusual in some obvious way.
    Lately I've been picking up a lot of vintage umbrellas. I just love the shape!
    I never remember to use them, however.

    And games. We have lots of vintage board games. Battleship (1967), "Convention! The Exciting Game of Politics!" (1960), Risk (1955), Go To the Head of the Class (1954), Smess (1970), "Public Assistance, Why bother working for a Living?" (1980), and an old Monopoly(194) that has a box only for the pieces.. not for the playing board.
    I'm generally drawn either to an unusual game (like my obviously politically charged ones), or one with neat graphics. Condition IS important.. but not as much as having all the pieces! I'll by a game in so-so condition as long as it's all there and not too expensive.

  14. fuzzylizzie

    fuzzylizzie Trade Member

    Great discussion! My collection philosophy seems to be very similar to Jonathan's.

    When I first started buying vintage 25+ years ago, I bought it strictly to wear. In the last 4 or 5 years, I've been working on a collection of representative styles from 1920 to the present.

    I want things that speak of the time from which they were made and worn. And I want the complete ensemble, not just the dress. So, for a navy and red 1948 Mangone suit, I also have a matching Sidney Heller rayon suit blouse, a matching navy hat and handbag, red gloves, undergarments and stockings. In the handbag is a red/white/blue hankie, a 1940s lipstick and rouge pot. To complete this outfit, I need the perfect late 40s shoes.

    I am always upgrading and narrowing the focus of the collection. I don't want 5 New Look suits - I want one perfect (Dior, some day, hopefully) suit. I've seen some people's collections that are just about lots and lots of stuff. I don't need every fashion trend of the past 75 years represented, I just want the ones that I see as being important.

    I keep a list of things that I need, such as the 1940s navy shoes. It's massive! But I'm always finding things that I need, such as the lavendar cloche I bought last week to match a flowered silk day dress from the 20s.

    I can honestly say that I love every object in my collection. I just cannot leave any item in it that is not the most wonderful of its type that I've run across (and can afford!). I'd rather not have a key item than to settle for an object that I don't see as being the best I can do.

    Also, I've noticed that all the garments in my collection are things I actually would have worn. There's an awful lot of blue and black, which I wear everyday. I guess what I mean is that the collection is a reflection of my own taste in clothing and of my own interests.

    I also keep a list of designers from each era that I want represented, such as Jean Muir from the 70s. And as a side collection, many of my 50s and 60s items are by Anne Fogarty, and I have a nice collection of Mary Quant from the 60s.

    Now the problem is just keeping track of it all. I'd be interested in hearing how others manage their stuff. I guess I'll have to start another thread!

  15. camelbackcat

    camelbackcat Trade Member

    Managing my personal collection is hard. I'm determined to sit down, one fine day, and inventory everything. As of now, I have it organized like this:
    I have built in cabinets in one closet that have drawers. These contain:
    scarf collection
    evening bag collection
    glove collection
    jewelry collection
    I have an extra closet that has my Ogusts, Anne Fogartys, Jackets and Coats.
    My shoes are lined up on built-in shoe racks in one closet and I have double long shelves that hold the purses.
    Although I live in an older home (built in the 40s), it has more closet space than most older houses because an architect custom-designed the house as a wedding present for his daughter. So, there are lots of built-ins.
    Oh yes, the kimonas are folded and placed in a large blanket chest.
    As for the rest of the stuff, I have two commercial racks that DH found for me and I have those things hanging in the guest bedroom.
    I also have three HUGE jewelry boxes that are placed in one of the closets.
    I had so much jewelry that I began to get really paranoid that I'd somehow mix up my Mom's and grandmom's heirlooms with my thrift finds. Finally, I gathered up Mom and grandmom's good pieces and put them in a safety deposit box. I never wear them now, but I have the peace of mind that they won't be stolen or lost in the chaos.
    Oh yes, fur coats (sorry non-fur wearers) are stored in the bedroom closet of Mom's bedroom ...which is unused. I know they should go into cold storage for the summer, but I haven't done that yet. I must be a darn fool to collect furs in Phoenix. But,seriously, that's one reason I can afford to collect them. The market, for furs, in Phoenix, is almost non-existant. People move him from colder climates and end up donating them to charities.
    Enough of my prattle. I would love to hear how others manage their collections.
  16. bartondoll

    bartondoll Guest

    Great discussion Hollis!

    After my last child (and the ensuing 'baby' weight), I pretty well stopped wearing vintage, but continued to buy
    as a collector. My 'baby' is now 17, and I'm still collecting, however the past year have slowed down considerably.

    Edwardian and Victorian, I was like Lei....if it was old I had to have it! Of the many purchases I made probably 20% of them were worthwhile.

    Several years ago, I developed a passion for antique
    Christening gowns, and was fortunate to find a seller in the Uk who had phenomenal gowns from the mid to late
    1800s. There is a very sweet nostalgia to these tiny
    handmade garments.

    I love 50s, and thanks to a certain UK'r (who actually had the <i>audacity</i> to be purchasing for wearing!) Ceil Chapmans :) , I focused on the Cinderella sister label, 'Suzy
    Perette'. I still do buy Perettes that are unusual to what
    I have in my collection, however recently have begun to
    cull some of the garments that I have that are similar.

    I have collected antique textiles, linens and lace for years, and continue to do so....I have become much more discerning of condition, quality and workmanship over the
    past couple of years.

    I have become quite interested in vintage catalogues, not only are these a valuable reference tool, but they are also
    so much fun to read!

  17. pastperfect2

    pastperfect2 Trade Member

    Managing our colletions - now that is another story!

    Last year I got serious and started taking photos of everything. I mean everything! Monty's baby shoes, the works. I am still not done, because it a chore, and there is no paycheck at the end of it, but progress has been made.

    I do wish I had taken better photos to start, as it would have been handy on some dresses to have then on file - but such is life.

    Then I do a sheet with the photos, and all the pertinent information: age, approx. value, condition, label if there is one, and location in the house.

    It has helped enmormously. Now when I want to find a certain hat, I can look in the book, and know which box it's in and where. Instead of hunting through all the boxes in all the rooms.

    But there is still a lot to go!

  18. crinolinegirl

    crinolinegirl Alumni

    My house (built in 1933) only has one closet in it unfortunately and I've comandeered (I think that's how you spell it) for my own use :)
    My collection is kept in stackable plastic boxes but they are pretty useless as they are overloaded and are now collapsing into each other. My husband is going to put shelves in to support the boxes.
    Not an ideal storage solution but until we get a bigger house, it will have to do! I bought a huge stack of acid free paper so at least that will keep everything relatively safe. Business stock is housed in my son's room on a rack.
    I really must get around to cataloging it all but it's just the time nor do I have the inclination to undertake such a huge task!! :)

  19. nsweezie

    nsweezie Registered Guest

    I've found it very interesting reading what other board members like to collect. The range is really wide!
    I personally buy mainly (90%) to wear. My main focus is 50's and 60's clothing. I think I've gotten better at judging what suits me, and that is why I'm leaning more towards 1960's clothing, as stuff from the 50's seems to overwhelm me (I'm pretty darn short!)
    I don't have any big designer names in my vintage collection, but hopefully that will change, as I plan in the future to buy less, but spend more when I do. :)
  20. fuzzylizzie

    fuzzylizzie Trade Member

    Louise, I'm short too, and I think I look better in 60s things.. Although I do know some short ladies who do manage to pull off those great 50s dresses, I feel overwhelmed in them.

    As for organization, I'll share what I've got started, and what is a seemingly never-ending process.

    I take a photo of everything, and I put the photos in photo album sleeves, arranged according to ensembles. With a picture of a 50s Fogarty dress, I'll also have pictures of the hat, gloves, shoes, bag, undies...

    I also keep a written page on each ensemble, with description, price paid, when and where bought, and any known history of the objects.

    I store everything according to era, in plastic bins. I need somewhere better than under the beds to store the bins!


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