Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Vintage clothing CONDITION

Here are a few pictures from last month, don't remember when exactly...


But I have to share them to speak about the dress I was wearing that day.... 

I bought that dress some years ago on Ebay....

but I had never wore it till this day...

You must ask you "Why????"

Look at this gorgeous AZTEK pattern!!!!
I must tell you that I'm really picky when it comes to vintage clothes, I don't want to wear damaged ones, that's why I only buy stuff in Excellent condition.
But each person seems to have another idea about what "Excellent" means for vintage clothes....

For me it means no hole or stains, only some normal wear....

But I have had many problems with my online purchases (Ebay or Etsy) thru the years... 

Excellent condition items often arrive with stains or holes despite a listing mentionning "No flaws noted"... Most of the time, I see flaws at first glance when I just take out the item from the package... I cannot believe that sellers didn't notice that!!!
That was what happened with this dress...

It seems perfect on pictures or even if you see me on the streets but it has a few flaws... light yellowing stains in front (why stains are always in the front!!!), one original button was missing and I had to mend a few places...

This dress has slept in a suitcase for a few years because of these flaws, I re-discovered it when I wanted to sell a part of my wardrobe... I thought why not give it a try, afterall flaws are noticable only if you know them or look close...

I think that a lot of sellers (mainly if they are not Professional) try to hide flaws... "you know, it's vintage so holes and stains are just normal..."

I want to know what I buy for the price asked... I can understand that some clothes are harder and harder to find in good condition but I want to decide myself if a flaw is acceptable or not!

Most of the time, people ask me if I make myself my clothes and when I reply that it's all original 60-70 years old clothes then they often cannot believe that they are in such condition... but old doesn't mean bad condition!
I'm perhaps sometimes too picky and have missed some nice items because of a few flaws... but I want to only buy stuff that I will be proud to wear... Condition is for me as important than the style of an item.
Do you often have problems with your Ebay or Etsy vintage purchases?
Would you be able to wear something with major flaws if you like it?



  1. I agree with you. You know another big issue is odor. I do not like it when things come to me with stong musty odors. There was one dress I could not wash because it was a wool type of material and I really could not be bothered about tring to resell this dress with such an odor. You wonder about where it must have been stored. Another thing that bothers me is "piling" of some wool sweaters. I want to wear quality vintage not vintage that is so worn out. You always do such a lovely job of finding nice vintage treasures. Lovely!

  2. That's a difficult topic. All the things vintage I wear don't have any major flaws, but I don't own that many original garments, instead I try to reproduce them on my own (partly because I don't want to wear out original vintage items in good condition when only walking around the house, but mostly because vintage garments in mint condition are quite expensive and I can't (and sometimes I do not want) pay such high prizes regularly).
    But I own some things in deplorable condition as well, mostly because they were cheap. Some, like a 50ies silk-chiné-à-la-branche-Skirt, I try to reassemble and clean, some others I plan to use as patterns to reproduce them, like a 30ies dress that has been used as fancy dress somewhen later.
    But of course, when wearing vintage you don't want to dress in rags only because the dresses are a bit older, so I can completely understand that you are so picky.

  3. That's so interesting - I mean, I always strive to find things in immaculate condition... but on the other hand, I'm a HUGE SUCKER for shabby shab 30s & 40s stuff if the price is right (aka free, or under $10). I always feel kind of like I'm "saving" it, because I'll spend the time washing & mending til things aren't as noticeable.

    BUT! I HATE it when etsy or ebay seller arent honest about the condition of their pieces. It's completely obnoxious & unacceptable. I want to know what's wrong with something! Knowing doesn't mean I won't buy it anyways, but just tell me! Ugh, the WORST.

    Regardless, that print is amazing, and I'm sure you're the only one who notices the flaws (that's usually how that goes!)

    xo Sara

  4. Truth is ... I don't give a damn about the condition my clothes come in. I often buy cheap vintage clothing because it's in poor condition, but most of the time I can make something out of it (that's my job, after all !) I love 40s, 30s and earlier so mint condition is rare, and gets more and more expensive. I'm more a designer snob, I'd rather buy an average Schiaparelli suit rather than a perfect condition unsigned one.

  5. What frustrates me is the high price for things that are damaged. I have come to grips with the fact that the prices in general have skyrocketed over the past few years, but when there is a giant rip in the middle of the dress, or a stain that is noticeable even in photos (that won't come out), and they still want a high price, I just shake my head.

    I do buy things with small damage if I like it well enough, but usually only if I find it in a thrift store. I can mend split seams, holes in sweaters, or some stains. But, I only get these things if it is a good deal.

  6. I had a few problems this summer but thankfully they all gave me full refunds. The most disappointing was a 40s dress I bought for my daughter smelled like cigarettes-it was horrible. I hold out for things that are in really good condition. I am very particular as well. I say hold out bc you can find great pieces out there :) xox

  7. I also purchase vintage items that are described as excellent. However, when an item is so uniquely fabulous despite a few issues-I buy it. Sometimes I am able to hide an obvious stain with an applique or do minor sewing repairs. Like you, I have also been disappointed by a seller's perception of excellent yet, I have rarely regretted a purchase.

    Your high standards are evident in your stunning vintage outfits. I absolutely love your Spanish dress in the above photos. As always, you look fabulous!

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  9. My first comment didn't post properly but I totally agree with you and I'm glad you've done this post!!

    Most of my vintage items come from Etsy but these days I won't buy anything on there until I've double checked with the seller about the condition. I don't mind the odd tiny hole or a small stain that's hidden amongst pleats but my worst problem is underarm staining or discolouration - it just looks terrible. I have had a few dresses turn up that even when the seller has supposedly checked it over again for me, I've noticed flaws straight away and I too cannot understand how they didn't notice it themselves! If I'm buying something in a shop where I can see for myself the condition, then I might decide that it's acceptable or maybe repairable but it is very difficult when purchasing online.

    This has meant that I haven't bought items that are lovely but I just couldn't wear something out with obvious problems.

  10. I guess I'm one of the few that buys seriously damaged goods! I buy mass amounts of gorgeous 40's and 50s dresses for less than $5 each, spend a few minutes washing or fixing it and it's good as new! I don't see the point in spending a fortune searching out perfect garments when I can be thrifty and bring something old back to life again. That's what a woman in the 40s and 50s would have done! Most of my closet, especially the really special pieces have been damaged and repaired and repairing those things instead of casting them aside has made me more proud of them than of my few flawless items

    1. I absolutely agree. But there is a difference between damaged and damaged.
      A damaged seam, missing buttons, crumpled lace, all that can be fixed. But stains that appearently have been washed numerous times without vanishing or degrading fabric in the armpits are things that can't be mended that easily. 5$, no discussion, I would most likely buy it without a second glance. But to ask 50 CHF (appr. 51$) for it is just far from being realistic.

  11. Hey Laurence, definitely agree with you about problems with Ebay and Etsy and sellers who do not seem to be able to inspect and describe a garment accurately! I actually prefer to deal with a seller who acknowledges they do not know anything about vintage clothing and tries to answer my questions than a seemingly know-it all! That being said the wonderful experiences of Ebay and Etsy generally outweigh the negatives - but it is getting harder and more frustrating to send things back with custom charges and increased shipping. On condition I would agree with a bit of what everyone has said. There are some no brainers here for me- smells and perspiration marks I give a wide berth. However from there it depends for me. Buying a less than perfect piece, where I feel I can mend or disguise the flaw has meant that I have been able to buy and enjoy higher end vintage pieces that I could not otherwise afford. Rayon Hawaiians are a perfect example for me, or an elastic shirred sarong that has lost its stretch. I´m willing to put the time in and I always feel proud when I have breathed new life back into a garment. With some less than perfect items I feel more comfortable to wear them and enjoy them than a mint condition item (particularly when going to a festival where there are lots of drunk people around!). Some mint or deadstock items are actually, in my opinion, a bad buy. I steer clear of shoes that have never been worn- soles often crack and leather is dried out. Similarly deadstock Capri pants- often find they fall apart with dry rot after a few wears (and they are easier to reproduce than other items). Really interesting topic to think about and to see how people vary in their tastes and opinions. Thanks for sharing Laurence!

  12. I have more problems with ebay than etsy, but that's probably because I purchase more there than I do on etsy.

    The Fictionista

  13. Ben moi tu vois, je m'en fous com-plè-te-ment !
    Je porte souvent des robes qui ont des trous ou des taches, juste parce que je les aime et que j'adore les porter. Je ne peux pas m'en défaire !
    Il m'est arrivé d'acheter des choses sur le net ou en boutique ayant des défauts notables, mais toujours faciles à cacher, ou alors juste j'étais tombée amoureuse de la pièce et ça n'avait que peu d'importance. Je traîne comme ça une robe 40's achetée à Clignancourt il y a presque 10 ans, constellée de trous, mais pas moyen de m'en séparer...même si ce n'est pas ma préférée !

    Par contre là où je suis d'accord avec toi c'est quand on te vend une pièce sur le net comme étant en "excellent état" et qu'au final à peine arrivée c'est la douche froide et tu découvres plein de défauts..ça c'est pas réglo du tout et c'est très décevant !

    En tous cas cette robe te va à ravir, vous êtes très beaux comme toujours...et quel imprimé génial ! Tu as eu raison de laisser sa chance à cette belle pièce !

    Biz Biz ;-)

  14. I haven't bought anything vintage online (yet). But if a seller states the condition is excellent then there should be no flaws ! I don't mind some spots here and there and I can even live with a musty dusty odor, but if I expect it to be perfect then I would not be content with a product full of holes and fatty stains.

    It's quite amazing the state your clothing is in, but one day the supply of nice vintage pieces ends ... I hope you'll have yourself an amazing wardrobe by then !

  15. Excellent point about what constitutes excellent condition, dear gal. I too have had some items arrive over the years that were a million miles away from what I'd ever call "excellent" or even very good (the most recent of which was a relatively expensive 50s dress this past February, which was so massively different from the state described, I almost cried when I saw it - which is not typical for me and my "just make the best of it" approach to life and vintage items). I don't mind buying an imperfect piece or one with an average amount of wear, so long as I know what I'm getting off the bat. I wish all sellers would be upfront and honest about the amount of wear (and get the sizing measurements listed right - but that's a whole 'nother story) a garment has. It's better to overstate the wear than to understate it, yet so many do just that.

    ♥ Jessica

  16. You are so absolutely right about flaws.

  17. I don't think I could wear something with major flaws. Maybe a few barely noticeable ones. If I find something at the thrift shop with a big hole or stain, I usually pass it up, even if it is super cheap. I usually assume the person tried to get the stain out and it's permanent. However your dress is really cute and looks great and I love your shoes.