Why That Vintage Dress Is Worth More Than You Are Paying
It never fails. Vintage dealers and shoppers wondering out loud why one vintage dress is worth over $200 in a boutique when an equally cute one at the flea market costs $40. Dealers wondering why they can only get $80 for a 1950s dress while another dealer gets almost $400 for a similar dress. Shoppers looking for something unique and pretty, grumbling about the $300 price tag.
The truth is, there are a number of factors that play into the value and price of a vintage dress. Vintage clothing really is not for the fan of fast fashion. That mentality goes out the window if you want to wear vintage. Here’s why…
1. Sourcing Vintage Is Time Consuming
The closest the vintage clothing marketplace has to a fashion week or Market, are vintage fairs and vintage expos such as the Santa Monica Vintage Expo and A Current Affair. These vintage marketplaces are highly curated so every piece is highly wearable. Vintage shoppers and dealers alike get to reap the benefits of someone’s hard work and dedication to find these gems. Of course the price tag will be higher – the hard work has been done.
But if you go to a flea market or thrift store, you have to do the grunt work. You have to sift through packed racks of really ugly pieces, damaged items and unwearable vintage do get the bargain basement prices.
Would you rather dig or pay someone a convenience fee for finding fabulous vintage for you?
2. Taste Level – The Eyes Have It
Anyone can source old clothing. The real talent comes when you can trust the dealer has a good eye – the unique ability to find beautiful pieces that are wearable, relevant and unique. This skill cannot be taught. No matter how many fashion books you read or how many episodes of Sex and The City you watch. Being able to pick out good vintage is a gift, like singing or painting. The best dealers have keen sense of design, construction, detail and combining history, fashion and sociology.
3. Cleaning and Mending
It baffles me how many dealers on Ebay are able to sell “Minty” dresses. Where are these golden pots of vintage dresses? Because most of the dresses I have found need some kind of repair or restoration. A falling hem, an incorrect alteration, a tear or busted zipper. Vintage dealers have a love affair with their pieces. Each one is hard to part with because we know how special and rare they are. We want to bring them back to their glory as much as possible while still keeping a profit margin.
A dealer who is willing to clean their merchandise before selling it really cares about their customers. I wouldn’t want someone to receive a vintage dress that smelled of moth balls or nicotine. There is something to be said about customer service. It’s the equivalent of shopping at a department store that offers impeccable service, even if those jeans or that jersey dress could be purchased for less at a store with no customer service perks.
So I’m one of those kooky people that believes in the power of abundance. I firmly believe that I receive from the Universe as much as I give to the Universe. Sometimes that comes in the form of love and kindness, and other times the Universe repays me with pretty 1950s dresses! But as much as I pray that the Universe send me a lifetime couture Chanel piece, the reality is that good vintage is being picked a feverish pace by everyone. People are going coo-coo for vintage. Great for sales, but finding good vintage is getting harder and harder. Especially for those of us who love mid-century and older vintage. So when a vintage seller can offer an array of beautiful frocks and baubles, you have to realize how difficult it was to find that piece for you.
So the next time you fall in love with a pretty, frilly thing that makes you feel like a movie star from a black and white film, don’t think twice! Grab that dress and run to the cashier before I do.
[image source: Reginas Studio - Etsy]