I ask sponsors to choose their top three finds. Here are Past Perfect Vintage’s picks (click, then scroll down): 1940s Floral Tilt Hat by Lightbody’s, $85.00; 1920s Silk Dance Dress with Beaded Deco Roses, $875.00; Red Silk Lilli Ann Jacket ca 1955, $125.00.
First, a big thank you to our July sponsors Past Perfect Vintage & Specialist Auctions Vintage. It’s been a hectic month, and they’ve been very patient. Note to potential sponsors: we will resume the sponsor program in October, with some new terms that I’ll discuss in a different post.
Right, on to our first July interview, with Holly of Past Perfect Vintage:
1) What’s your store name and where do we find you online?
We are Holly Jenkins-Evans and Monty Evans and we are Past Perfect Vintage. You can always find us at our primary site: Pastperfectvintage.com. For eBay lovers, we can also be found occasionally as pastperfect2.
2) How long have you sold vintage? Do you sell part-time or full-time?
I am going to show my age! We started selling in 1992. Monty is part-time, I am pretty much full-time.
3) Why do you sell vintage?
I come from a theatrical costume background as well as a family with a lot of talented seamstresses, so there was always a lot of emphasis on clothing and fashion. As I moved out into freelance costume design work, I shifted from collecting vintage fashion into selling it as a way to keep working between design jobs. Now it’s pretty much my full-time work.
4) What is one frustration you have with selling vintage online?
We started out selling at vintage clothing shows, and it was such a joy to actually see people’s reaction to fine pieces, and to see them light up when they found their Holy Grail. I miss that moment. I get great thank you emails, but it isn’t quite the same.
5) How much of your personal wardrobe is vintage?
My wardrobe used to be lot of vintage. Rayon sports shirts, bowling shirts for fun, 1940s suit jackets, 40s neat blouses, and 40s and 50s dresses. Even a few pair of shoes. I must admit now that I am selling online, I am no fashion plate! But I still have an eye for a good sweater. And I wear mostly vintage jewelry now.
6) What are your favorite non-vintage stores or designers?
Non-vintage? What’s that? I do like Chico’s for easy to wear clothing, because there they do have interesting surface treatments. On the far opposite end, I thought Dior’s Fall 2007 line was amazing.
7) What are three things you wish shoppers knew about buying vintage?
a) Quality construction and fabric are worth searching for. Even without a known label, better quality will translate to a better investment.
b) If you love it, get it – there won’t be another! I have rarely regretted a purchase but have regretted many a fine piece I loved but didn’t buy.
c) It’s old. So treat it with respect and care so you can to pass it along to the next generation.
8) What resources can you recommend for buyers who want to learn more about vintage?
Goodness – books, books, books. Exhibits. I was trained that primary sources were the best, such as actual garments, photos, and portraits from the time. There tons of photographic sources now, from museum exhibition catalogues to museum collections online, and the whole Dover books oeuvre. Local museums have exhibits frequently now that there is such interest. Sewing textbooks such as the Vogue Book are also very helpful when it comes to understanding period construction. The Vintage Fashion Guild has a lot of online resources that will help fill in the gaps as well. Beware the texts that feature new sketches of period fashions. They always edit out important details and tend to make the period in question look more in line with current taste.
6) What is the best item you’ve ever sold? Where did you find it?
That’s a tough one. It’s a tie.
We sold a fantastic 1908 wedding hat a few years ago. The BIGGEST Edwardian hat I have ever seen, and that is saying some. All lace, tulle, ostrich plumes and wire – it didn’t weigh anything. Plus it had a rhinestone shooting star. I found it at a Lexington, KY antique show. It came out of a Cherokee Road estate in my city of Louisville.
The other was a truly sumptuous ¾ length Teens Battenberg Lace coat with pale blue silk satin bindings and ribbons that came out of a Louisville estate on a private buy.
Thanks, Holly, for all the advice! I can’t wait to get my hands on some of those Dover books (like this one). For more great vintage, see Past Perfect Vintage’s main page or click the links above; for more vintage seller interviews, see our archive.