Frustrations Of A Vintage Clothing Seller

I have been in the vintage clothing business for many years now. Thought it might be fun to list my top five frustrations. Just a few daily niggles that I am sure some of you can relate to. In no particular order...

1. Iron Shine

Urgh the very mention of the words sends a shiver up my spine. I have seen way too many dresses, especially 1940s Crepe & Rayon fabrics ruined with too hot an iron setting. That unsightly shimmery sheen across a neckline or anywhere for that matter, even worse when there is an imprint of a seam, zip or button as clear as a brass rubbing through from the underside!

Iron Shine

To avoid falling into this trap use steam alone to shift the creases,  even if you have to hang it in the bathroom for a couple of days! If you prefer to use an iron then use a clean fine muslin cloth between your garment & iron plate.  Keep your iron setting as low as you can get away with.

Too late mate? iron shine fibres have usually melted so you might be stuck with a perma-glaze but there are some rescue tips out there, I can't say I have actually tried any of them so let me know if you find one that works.

I don't own a steamer but use my iron like this over garments without actually touching them.


2. Customisation

There is a place for customised clothing, for example, updating something a couple of years old but to butcher something from the 30s, 40s or 50s seems criminal  I have come across some beauts hacked off at the hem to knee length or higher, I can positively hear the dresses screaming.  Not enough to be halved in length they often have a finish my late grandma Mabel would have described as uneven as a dog's hind leg.  Another is a smattering of modern sequins and rhinestones across the bodice in a design that only the likes of Dolly & Tammy Wynette would consider subtle.

Green & Brown Dress

In my opinion, leave true vintage in its original glory.

which brings me to my next one...

3. Clumsy Repairs The very nature of vintage clothing means it's been around the block a few times so of course a lot of it needs a mend or three. We may not all have a gifted family member or the money to take our latest vintage find to a professional. However, surely there is no excuse for using a red thread to mend a blue dress seam or staples to hold up an unravelled hem. Oh yes I've seen it all! 

Make Do and Mend

If you aren't a sewer there are plenty of tutorials for basic tips.  If you don't have the right colour thread ask around.  Those little kits some hotels give away are worth hanging on to.

4. The Dating Game

Remember this a fun exercise, don't want to give the impression I lose sleep over this stuff!  But another thing that niggles me is listings on Ebay & similar sites claiming distinctly 1980s 90s dresses are genuine 40s.

Purple Dres

Again plenty of signposts out there to help date items including the guidelines on our own Revival BLOG. As vintage sellers, we can only do our best to estimate a date based on our knowledge gained.  I have done this work for a long time and I am still learning but there are some pretty basic pointers that you can pick up early on in your education.  Labels, fastenings, fabric types, style features, hem width, style features, shape, even smell can all assist an assessment. 

5. Dumb Comments

I am first in line when it comes to engaging my brain once my words are out, especially nowadays but over the years I have heard some real corkers relating to vintage clothing. To share but a few:

  • Holding up an original vintage item... "do you have this in a size 12, do you have this in blue with pink spots, do you make all these yourself?"
  • "as daft as it sounds I would actually wear this now"  right about one thing!
  • "do you have any spearmint collar shirts?" bless!
  • "it's all coming back you know"  
  • "do people just bring all this in for you?" I wish!
  • "what's your best on this"  best for you or best for me?

They don't annoy me one bit but they do make me smile. So I thought I would list them anyway.

Oh and yes we do know your Grandma, mum, sister, cousin used to have one of those!

It's forties honest my Grandma used to have one exactly the same in pink polka dots

27 Dresses

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