Yesterday a customer rang and asked for a refund on a dress she had bought last week – she had taken it home and found some yellowing in the 60 year old silk party dress, so would like to return it.
Absolutely, I replied – we take returns for any reason. I’m sorry that my dress does not meet your expectations.
(The delightful Marianne from Esme and the Laneway tried on the frock some time ago).
I live in an imperfect world, but vintage is not for everyone.
In my world, material things have lived a life and they usually show the little scuffs and marks that reveal their stories, their adventures and their history – sometimes the marks make them unusable or unwearable: a house that has burnt to the ground can no longer be lived in, but one that only needs a fresh coat of paint is just fine, especially if you’re not the sort of person to be bothered by a little peeling paint.
My home – it won’t surprise you to learn – is second hand. I call her the War Baby: Betty built her in 1942 and she’s like a budget Art Deco, built strong and sturdy with double brick and a Clinker Brick glaze, but with no unnecessary flourishes.
High ceilings, open fireplace, ceiling roses and architraves, wood floors in every room. Betty sold me the house in 1999 and I promised that I’d take good care of her – she was shocked that I had no renovation plans, “I love her just the way she is, original 1942”.
Many people like to buy a block of land in the sticks and build a big house with many small rooms and low ceilings – vintage is not for everyone.
My furniture is all second hand, or as we prefer to call it: an eclectic mixture of Victorian antiques, Jacobean Revival, Art Deco and Mid-Century Modern.
The stain has worn off my 1920s oak kitchen table revealing the pale colour beneath, but I enjoy the way it reveals many years of servicing families. It’s the “newest” (to me) piece of furniture I have – the ’20s dressing table with the big oval mirror has criss-crossed the country since 1984, and I think of my mum every time I look at her old Victorian hall table with the barley twist columns.
Some like their furniture shiny and new from Ikea: Vintage is not for everyone.
I love vintage clothes, and do my best to find good quality beautiful clothes for my customers. Some just need cleaning, some need a lot of work and I lavish whatever attention they need on them – I take my role as custodian seriously and endeavour to find the right home for the fashions to shine again.
Party dresses, ballgowns, cocktail dresses, dinner dresses and evening gowns are the most demanding – “Take me out!” they cry, especially when they’ve been packed away for decades because the lady has grown old, or misplaced her girlish figure. We keep these beautiful frocks because they remind us of happy times and are reluctant to part with them because even unworn, a thing of beauty is a joy forever.
We get them out to show our daughters, we cherish their memories – but one day they might come and visit me, or one of my fellow vintage lovers and the frocks get a chance to live again. They’re very excited!
A lot of people buy mass-produced clothes made in Chinese factories at very affordable prices – vintage, vintage my friend, is not for everyone.
But for those who appreciate quality, romance, style and the chance to wear a unique item that was so important to a distant someone that she treasured it and kept it safe for decades, before passing it on to a new life – an item that will very likely reveal traces of it’s glamourous past – for you, dear lady, I have treasures – come and let me share them with you.