A Passion for Fashion

09/10/15

As any well heeled fashionista would tell you, in fashion what goes around, comes around. Due to this cyclcity in fashion designs and tastes it is little wonder that the vintage fashion market is going from strength to strength. Here are some helpful hints in what to look out for when buying vintage fashion and how to make it work for you!

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A 1920's black chiffon dress beaded with scarlet flowers and black leaves, 38ins chest x 45ins long and one other - Lot 633 -11th August 2015

Firstly – do not go buy the label size!! Through the years body shapes and sizes have changed in what is desirable. Whilst 50’s clothes were often based on the ‘Hourglass’ shape and therefore typically had much smaller waist sizes than present day. Similarly 60’s clothes were cut for a much more up and down ‘boyish’ figure. These clothes often are not as generally cut in the bust compared to today’s clothing. To avoid buying the wrong size it is always best to go on measurements of the pieces and compare them to measurements of your own favourite items. This will hopefully ensure you don’t get a nasty surprise!

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Three 20th Century lady's crocodile handbags (various sizes) – lot 872 – 3rd December 2013

It is likely that the items will not be in perfect condition due to their age. Befriending a good seamstress can go a long way in mending your items or re-tailoring them to fit you better. In terms of cleaning or eradicating odours here are some of the best tips the internet has to offer!

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A 1920's navy blue silk chiffon dress and bolero with pale pink tea roses, chest 36ins, and a 1920's black silk chiffon bead and rhinestone collared evening dress, chest 32ins – Lot 1089-14th April 2015

Place the item in a sealable plastic bag and put it in the freezer overnight (longer for stubborn odours). The freezing temperatures will kill most of the odour causing bacteria allowing you to launder the remaining smells away. To remove light musty smells spray an equal parts white vinegar and water mixture directly onto the garment and hang to air dry, (a dab of vinegar can also help to remove stains and spots).

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An Edwardian ladies black silk, beaded and velvet applique'd evening coat, chest 40ins, a 1950's burgundy wool and black velvet trimmed "Teddy Boy" suit by Shears, Valborough High Street, London SE1, chest 36ins, and a small quantity of other costumes, various – Lot 1090-14th April 2015


Stronger odours can be neutralised by adding a cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle. Heavy smells may require an overnight soak in a 1 part vinegar to 5 parts warm water mixture. Baking soda is a great alternative to vinegar as it is odourless. Place the garment in 4 to 5 litres of hot water and add a cup of baking soda on top of the saturated fabric, let it sit for 15 minutes, give it a good mixing then soak for about an hour and wash normally.

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A 1920's black silk net, sequinned and beaded "Flapper" dress with silk under slip, chest 34ins – lot 1088-14th April 2015

Vodka is not only a great deodoriser, it also kills the bacteria causing the foul fragrance. Simply pour some straight vodka into a spray bottle and give the vintage victim a good spray. Once dry, launder as usual. As the alcohol smell disappears as it dries this is also a great technique for vintage items not easily washed such as bulky jackets, furniture fabric and decorative textiles.

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Three handbags, comprising - Two of snakeskin by Asprey and Mappin & Webb, and one leather with snakeskin "Sunburst" – Lot 1270 - 10th June 2014


Vintage footwear odours are easily defeated with a few household bits as well. Put a few tablespoons of odour neutralising kitty litter + a teaspoon of baking soda into a pair of old socks or fabric scraps, tie off the top & place in the shoes overnight. Add an equal mixture of baking soda and cornstarch to a pair of cotton socks and pop them into the shoes overnight.

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A pair of De Danaud, Paris, lady's green leather peep toed shoes, with matching handbag, a pair of Bruno Magli navy blue glace kid and gilt metal court shoes, a pair of Cellini dark brown woven basket-work kid court shoes, and ten pairs of similar lady's shoes by various designers (some in original boxes) – Lot 630 -11th August 2015

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