Lately, well no, forever I've come close to tears when I've brought home a beautiful piece of vintage clothing from an opshop or market, and after closer inspection, I find something major wrong with it.
This all came about this afternoon when I was cleaning the house, and putting away the clothing from my last post. The red dress. Perfect condition! It looked like it might have been worn once. However sticking out of the 'to hang' pile on my bed was a severely torn piece of red fabric. GASP!!!! I pulled it out and my bottom lip hit the ground.
It looks like someone had put their heal through it and torn it completely.
I missed it when going over it for faults because it was hidden in the massive amount of fabric in the skirt.
Sometimes when we're at a market, or an opshop, we don't have 2 hours to nit pick through every single item to make sure it's fine. It can be embarrassing if you're being critical of every aspect of an item that costs a couple of bucks, but when it's getting over that cheap mark, it's good to have a closer look at what you're buying.
I thought I'd write a little shortlist of things to quickly do wherever you are, to avoid the same disappointment as I had when you get home... or perhaps when you're already out for the night wearing it - oh oh!
Most vintage clothing books tell you to flip the item inside out, but I get embarrassed, and if you're at a market, the seller might bump the price up if it looks like you care so much haha.
My Nan taught my Mum and I to hold an item up with two fingers and a screwed up nose and say 'How much for this old thing?' Hahahah. Oh dear. But it works I tell you!! You always get a bargain with that line.
Ok here goes...
- I always flip up the bottom seam to check if it's been cut, or falling down.
If it's been cut, it can really affect the items value, or it might be a shotty job and will be completely uneven and look terrible.
- I look at the tag. If it's still there, and it's so faded you can't even read it, it often means it doesn't have much life left in it, so unless it's a masterpiece, I put it back.
Also read what sort of care it needs. If it's a dry clean item only, can you really afford to be paying $15 each time you want to clean it? It all adds to the cost.
- Check seams if you have the time or if it's super expensive. Sometimes and often seams are split, hems are falling down, there are reasons items go to the opshop and 'cant be bothered fixing it' is often one of them. We all have that 'to sew one day' pile that never seems to shrink. So unless you plan on fixing it straight away, put it back. - Oh also check the zip. If you've ever tried to replace a zip you know it's TORTURE!! Walk away from the rack!!
- Check the underarms. Especially on light coloured fabrics, tight dresses/tops and strapless dresses. Yellow underarm stains are g-r-o-s-s and VISIBLE!!
- On the stain note, give it a quick once over. Anything you pick up on must be really stuck in there, and could have been donated for that exact reason. If it's cheap enough to risk the stain never coming out, or if it's in a spot you can chop off and re-sew, then go for it, but I've thrown out many a failed nappysan attempts.
- If buttons are a main feature on the item, check they're all there. If they're dime a dozen buttons that can easily be replaced if ones missing, then it's no drama. But missing buttons that are covered in matching fabric etc will make the item unwearable.
- With pants, check to see if they've already been taken up or let down. If they fit you perfectly already well done, you have a freak body. I don't know anyone who can find well fitting jeans haha. But if they've been taken up and they need to be taken down to fit you, they might be cut so they can't come down, or they might have a white line around the bottom where the fold was. Not pretty.
- Check for moth holes in woolen items. These are usually unfixable, and if you add it to your wardrobe, there's a chance they'll move onto some of your other clothes and ruin your wardrobe too! If you hold suspecting pieces up to the light you can often see them better. Just last week I found the DREAM winter woolen cape. Beautiful it was. However riddled in moth holes. I desperately still wanted it and started manipulating myself into buying it anyway 'You'll fix it Trish, You'll fix it!'. But I won the fight and said no. I bet I dream of it for years to come.
- Check for goodies left in the pocket! Haha. (At the same time check for holes) Same with bags!!! My Mum found a gold ring worth over $1000 (In a genuine Louis Vuitton bag would you believe) You never know. Also, I often see homeless looking people going through pants and jackets pockets in opshops. I doubt they're doing it for fun.
SO many times have I brought home a pair of shoes and they broke on my first walk. Sad sad times.
- Always turn a shoe over and bend it. Mystery cracks will open and you'll save yourself many tears.
- Wiggle the heal. Really wiggle it no matter how high it is. If it moves at all leave the shoe there. It costs tons to have one fixed.
- At the toe of the shoe, check if the soul of the shoe is still fixed. If it flips back it's reasonably cheap to fix, but it's still an extra cost, and chances are the other ones the same.
- Avoid things that aren't in sets. 5 anything is no where near as good as 6. If you're selling something, if you try and sell it as a set of 5, you'll get less than if you were to just ditch one and sell it as a set of four. Interesting huh?
- Check everything for cracks, chips, and repairs. Even if it's something super valuable, it can dramatically reduce it's value if it has the smallest chip, or if someones done a shotty job at gluing it back together.
- Just because it says 'England' on the bottom doesn't mean it's worth the million dollars most opshops are putting on things.
- In the end buy what you like. Just because it's not worth anything, doesn't mean its not worth something to you. One of the things that makes my Mum happy is a McDonalds freeby from the 80's that's a love heart shaped Barbie box filled with tiny love heart note paper. Completely invaluable, but not to her.
That's all I can think of for now.
Feel free to add any other pointers you can think of, or experiences you've had so others can use this as a reference, and maybe I'll learn a thing or two to stop me buying ruined red dresses *sigh*
Have a lovely Sunday evening.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
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