Vintage wearables are great to collect. Not only can you wear them on special occasions, they are beautiful to display!
Every year, our friend Margaret throws a New Year’s Party that’s pure vintage chic. So when the hoidays roll around, we gals head to our favorite antiques faire in search of ladies hats, satin gloves, and haute couture galore for our annual festival of glamour.
When we arrived at the flea market, Margaret led us into a booth that had racks of dresses from the forties and fifties. She pointed out that dealers who sell antique clothes often sell accessories to go with them. Boy, was she right! There was a bouquet of hand-carved hair combs, a suitcase filled with handkerchiefs, and rows of Victorian shoes. Jennifer wanted to try on a pair—until she saw the $400 price tag. Kitty got a better deal on a couple of hand-embroidered hankies, only $3 each. She bought one for her purse and one to drape over the bedside table in her guestroom.
Two aisles over, Jennifer spotted a booth with more hats than a haberdasher. In a matter of minutes, all three of us were sporting showy chapeaus. Kitty put on a sleek turquoise cloche, but then got even more excited about a red pillbox. She thought it would be the perfect accent for her little black shift, plus she could hang it on her hall tree after the party. Jennifer tried on a pair of short crocheted gloves to go with her strapless “Jackie-O” dress, but the vendor explained that a strapless demands opera-length and sold her a long pair for $15.
After lunch, Margaret said we should look at cocktail purses. We teased her since she already has about twenty! She proudly displays her collection in her front bathroom on ornament hangers atop the counter, in acrylic frames on the wall, and hanging from gilded hooks. Kitty found a velvet clutch priced at $40, but when she noticed the lining was torn, she got the price down to $30. Jennifer fell in love with a needlework purse that had an ornate metal frame, but it was marked $95! The seller explained it was so spendy because it was from the 1920s, but she had a similar one from the sixties for only $35. At the table next door, Kitty got the bargain of the day, a mink stole for $20. It was so chilly out she wore it all afternoon!
If you see a pair of opera glasses at the flea market, pick them up and give them a try. These fancy binoculars from the 1800s were typically used by the hoi polloi to view classical performances, so you can find them featuring all manner of etching, embossing, and repoussé in bone, ebony, and mother-of-pearl. We love that this glamorous antique can not only beautify your boudoir, it can escort you to a night at the opera.
Prices We’ve Seen:
Hair Combs $30-$250
Hats $20 to $50
Beaded Evening Bags $20-$40
Victorian Velvet Purses $55-$100
Opera Glasses $50-$200