Monday, September 30, 2013

My Vintage Wedding Gown... Almost

There are thousands of vintage dresses in the Vintageous closet.  Every dress has a story...

I’d like to say I wore a vintage wedding gown when I got married… I really would.  Sadly (shamefully?) I didn’t. 
I was never one of those girls who dreamed about her wedding day, who had everything planned out including the perfect gown, etc…  If I had been, I probably would have saved a few gowns along the way.  But I didn’t.   

Although it was extended unexpectedly, we had planned for a very short engagement… we knew we wanted to get married… why wait?  I just assumed I would wear a vintage wedding dress.  After all, I had assisted so many brides over the years in locating their perfect vintage gowns.  Surely I could find my own!  Right? 
I was a woman on a mission.  I hunted, I hunted, I hunted and I hunted some more.  I tried on every white, cream or ivory gown that came in to the store.  NOTHING.  Finally, fearing that I would never find the right vintage dress in time I extended my search to the modern bridal stores in my area.  Again… NOTHING (though I wasn’t surprised!).  Finally, I travelled 200 miles to a bridal boutique outside of Washington, DC and found the gown of my dreams.  Now I hope my husband isn’t reading this, but in the end I spent over $3000 on a modern gown that, well, looked vintage.  The wedding was amazing, I felt fantastic in the gown, story over, right? 

 About a month AFTER the wedding I stumbled across the most phenomenal  (although frustrating) find.  An oyster satin 1950’s Ceil Chapman gown almost identical to the modern “vintage look” wedding gown I purchased… not only was it gorgeous and everything I had been looking for, but it was pretty much my size, too… and I can’t tell you what I paid for it but it was surely a LOT less than $3000!!!!  My perfect vintage wedding gown, just a little bit too late.  I wanted to cry!

I have been holding on to that Ceil Chapman since then.  Once I found it I couldn’t let it go!  But rationally there is no reason for me not to sell it.  I’ve been married for a little over 7 ½ years and I adore my husband.  We have three amazing little boys.  We’re not the type who will renew our vows.  Not to mention the fact that after three kids the gown wouldn’t even come close to fitting any longer!  I simply have no need for the gown, so after all these years, I’ve finally convinced myself that I can’t possibly justify holding on to it any longer.  

So, here it is.  I’ll be happy knowing that it will be someone else’s dream dress (on time!) and that it will make some lucky bride out there feel gorgeous on her wedding day!  Send photos, please?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Every Vintage Dress Has A Story...

There are thousands of vintage dresses in the Vintageous closet.  Every dress has a story...

At the corner of the block I grew up on lived an old woman... Every day she sat on her front porch in her housecoat surrounded by cats.  Her yard was completely covered in ivy laced with so many spiderwebs you couldn't even count them... as kids, we were all a little afraid of her and certainly afraid of whatever was lurking in the ivy surrounding her.  As I got older I remember smiling at her once as I passed her house... she looked at me strangely and didn't say anything.  I never knew her name or anything about her. 

She passed away when I was in my early twenties.  I was visiting home one day when a neighbor knocked on the door to inquire whether I was still selling vintage clothing.  "Yes," I replied.  "Well you might want to come with me then," she said.  She took me down to the house on the corner and introduced me to the old woman's daughter.  I asked if she had a few pieces that she was interested in selling.  She laughed and took me inside.

In the dim house we passed teetering stacks of vintage Vogue magazines and bookshelves of fashion books as we headed up the stairs to the ultimate shock... every room on the top two floors of this 3000+ square foot home was packed with vintage clothing.  The old woman was a southern debutante and raised her daughters as southern debs... saved every gown she wore, her daughters wore and even the ones her mother wore.  She was a fashion fanatic and one of her best friends was a fashion photographer.  But the most astonishing part to me was that in the 1970's this woman had opened up an antique and VINTAGE CLOTHING store (at the time selling 1920's, 1930's & 1940's and some 1950's) and when it closed she moved all of her inventory into her home.

My excitement was tempered by a sense of sadness and reluctance... I had so much in common with this woman and yet in all of the years we were neighbors I didn't even know her name... I never even spoke to her!  I conveyed this to her daughter and as we talked she told me that her mother would have been thrilled to know that her treasures found a good home so I had better help her start unloading the house.  Over the next couple of months we slowly unloaded the house together.  Sadly, after so many years of neglect and poor storage, many of the pieces weren't salvageable, but we did inventory a few hundred premium gowns and dresses from her estate (mostly all have gone now).

A few months ago I stumbled onto a box in the main Vintageous closet.  I opened it to find a few remaining treasures from her estate... pieces that needed work but were simply too outstanding to leave behind.  This incredible 1930's evening gown had thread rot in every stitch (the seams would literally melt as they were touched) and the rhinestones were hanging by a thread... it has now been restored and I hope it finds a good home.  It would make Mrs. Miller happy...

EXTRAORDINARY Black Crepe 1930's Evening Gown w/ Dripping Rhinestone Back

Monday, May 20, 2013

The birth of

People often ask me how Vintageous began... so here we go:

I grew up in the back room of an art gallery.  A few months before I was born, my father, a nuclear engineer, and my mother, working on her master's degree in urban planning, decided to open an art gallery.  My brothers and I grew up making projects out of stray art supplies, matboard scraps and frame samples, wandering around looking at exhibits over and over, flipping through art books and endless poster catalogs... when new shows opened we milled around the gallery importantly carrying a wine glass filled with Martinelli's sparkling cider, while superbly dressed gallery goers noshed on wine and cheese (looking back, my interest in fashion was probably born watching the fashionable gallery patrons as a child).

At some point my parents expanded into the antique print and map market... this meant endless (and to a child, painfully BORING) trips to antique stores, antique shows, etc... and then one day, when my parents decided to start selling at the antique shows (2-3 days of childhood boredom at a time)... I decided something had to be done.  I decided to become a collector... of what, I had no idea, but SOMETHING, just SOMETHING so that I would have something to do.

At the time I was playing the cello (and would later become a conservatory trained cellist), so antique sheet music seemed to fit the bill.  My parents let me have a little corner to sell my treasures and I sold enough to keep expanding my collection.  But then one day as I was out stalking for my next sheet music treasure, I saw it... the silliest little confection... a pale blue organdy and tulle 1950's hat... dingy and stained, but still calling to me from a 50 cent bargain bin... that was it... I was HOOKED.

I bought and sold hats throughout high school.  By the time I went away to conservatory/college, eBay was flourishing and I was selling hats online... I would manage my auctions from school and my mother would ship from home (I would call home and say, "hey mom, could you please ship h457, the brown felt hat with the leopard trim?" and she would, because my mother is amazing).  By my second year in college I was selling dresses off the back of my dorm room door (thanks Meg, my very understanding roomate!).  Finally, in 1999, at the age of 21, was born... shortly thereafter I left music school and got a degree in fashion merchandising, putting myself through school working 40+ hours a week at Vintageous.

Now here we are, no more hats, but thousands of dresses strong.  And now I have my own three little boys, and yes, they do come to work with me, and yes, I drag them to antique malls and estate sales (if you're ever in the area and you see a woman at an estate sale with a baby in one arm and 20 dresses in the other, chances are that's me... please come say, "hi."  I'd love to meet you!).  And maybe one day one of my boys will start his story, "I grew up in the front office of a vintage clothing store...."