Updated: Aug 21, 2019
One of the questions all appraisers are asked most often - what do you collect? And after two cross-country moves in the last year, I have to say that I was able to shed a lot of my own possessions and downsize into a very small amount of 'stuff'. What remains are some very small collections of art that I love, sentimental books, overly-dramatic costume jewelry, turned wood bowls, and copper pans. But I still look for something every day going back decades, online and in thrift and consignment stores, at antique shows, and I cannot stop.
What am I still on the hunt for? Vintage clothing! It has been my thing since very early childhood.
I began hunting in earnest in the late 80s at the only vintage store in town after years of begging my mother to take me to thrift stores all over town and to the only antique show in Spokane, Custer's, which normally had shows in the fall and spring. I would dart in and out of all the booths, looking for clothing racks in the back behind oak furniture.
In junior high I picked up clever sixties dresses by unknown-to-me designers like Rudi Gernreich, and wore them to school with the patent leather Dr. Marten's shoes from London that my uncle - who went to Parson's School of Design in the early 90s for fashion design and who had inspired me with his mountains of fashion magazines - had picked up for me. In high school I found friends who also loved vintage, and we all wore floral denim Maverick denim shorts from the 60s and tapered levis with punk band shirts, and fully fringed gogo dancer bikinis to the beach.
Why vintage? I guess like most people who gravitated to old clothing in the 80s, it was the romance of the past combined with three dimensional art and craft in opposition to fast fashion. Knowing from home sewing how difficult a seemingly effortless row of pintucks are, and appreciating the placement and proportion of a just-right box pleat. Marveling at a designer's intuition about the human body when they place pockets on a backward-curving seam on a coat, just where your hands fall naturally if you stand up straight.
I love seeing everything from Fortuny dresses in auction cases to monastic dresses by Pauline Trigere and Geofffrey Beene, to over-stitched, over-designed overalls by Dereon. It's all exciting in a dress-up way, and I truly love doing appraisals of valuable clothing and accessories in addition to all the antique and vintage stuff in estates. It is always an honor to see lifetime collections and advise people on the best route for donation or talk about hosting an estate sale of vintage clothing and accessories.