Ladies and Gentlemen! Madame et Monsieur! Meine Damen und Herren! As part of the Vintage Shop Of The Week segment of my blog, I present to you Pursuing Andie! A place where you will find a vast selection of vintage clothes and accessories dating from the 1940s-1970s with an emphasis on hats, that integral part of a real vintage dame’s wardrobe and my personal shopping weakness. It’s beyond my control! Some might even say, that I have too many hats but really, how many hats are too many?
It’s Beyond My Control: How did you start your adventure in selling vintage clothes?
Pursuing Andie vintage shop: My love affair with vintage started from an early age. As a young girl my father would wake me up as the sun was rising and we’d climb into his Jeep Wagoneer and go on adventures. I fondly remember the squeak of the heavy car door, the smell of gasoline and junk inside and of course getting to have milk and donuts with my dad. We’d hit every yard sale in town and I always revealed in finding the “free” box at each sale. In my late twenties I was missing a connection with my dad and wanted to spend more time with him and so our adventures started anew. This time it was an auction house. The moment I walked in I felt at home. It was the kind of place that might have some people turning on their heels for the door. It was dusty, dirty, smelly and perfectly lovely. I knew within those walls there was magic. I fell in love with the people who attended each Saturday, mainly old men with tiny dogs, a cup of coffee and always a hug waiting for me. One fateful day I placed a bid on an entire rack of clothing that was covered in garment bags. The only piece I could see was a 1960’s dress. No one was interested in the lot of clothing so I bought it for next to nothing. After we loaded the truck and my heart rate returned to a normal pace I went home to see what I had purchased. Was it junk? Was it treasure? I opened each garment bag with a gleam in my eyes (the kind of gleam you see in a child’s eyes on Christmas morning.) The bags were filled with vintage dresses and fur coats. From that moment I knew I had a new business on my hands and I’ve never looked back.
It’s Beyond My Control: What can we find in your vintage shop? For example, do you specialise in a particular era or type of garment, accessory, etc?
Pursuing Andie vintage shop: I prefer to stay within the 1920’s through the 1970’s, but occasionally fun pieces from the 80’s and 90’s will be listed. I love fashion, so if I’m drawn to particular piece of clothing I don’t shy away from adding it to my shop because the era isn’t what someone might expect to find there. I have a fondness for dresses from any era and that makes up the bulk of my inventory.
It’s Beyond My Control: Is there a process you go through when selecting garments for your shop? Perhaps you have a list or criteria, that you use when deciding which garments will be perfect for your shop and your clients?
Pursuing Andie: Preserving and restoring vintage garments is something I enjoy and find satisfaction in. I try to buy the best quality vintage possible, but I certainly won’t pass up a beautiful or unique piece if it is damaged. Bringing a dress back to life is a magical thing. Also building a relationship with repeat customers is such a treat, they might live across the world from you or just a state away. Learning what they love to wear and coming across a perfect garment is part of why I love selling vintage.
It’s Beyond My Control: Where do you find all those beautiful vintage clothes and accessories for your shop? (if it’s not a secret!)
Pursuing Andie: Vintage can be found anywhere and everywhere. There are no secrets to my finds, but it is a constant search, and each seller or collector I know will tell you that the hunt is the best part of our job. Estate sales, thrift shops, searching online and luckily I have amazing people in my life that come across vintage and buy it for me. I would say that my very favourite way of finding pieces for the shop is when people call me and have me stop by their home. Spending time with people that can recount when their grandmother, mother, or aunt wore a dress and sometimes even have a photo to go along with the dress is amazing. Eyes light up remembering a dress their mother wore to church on Sunday mornings or an elegant gown that was slipped on after watching their mother apply makeup and set her hair. When someone is willing to share these memories and allow the dress to live on, is the ultimate high of my job.
It’s Beyond My Control: What is your favourite period of time and why?
Pursuing Andie: I love the draping and tailored fit of the 1940’s, I would say those dresses are my favourite. But the classic fit and flair of the 1950’s steals my heart. Each era has it’s high and low notes, but honestly I love the evolution of fashion and trends. Mod mini’s from the 1960’s when times and politics were changing for women and civil rights. The 1970’s when disco was alive, the 1980’s mixed with punk and pop culture. Then on to the 1990’s and the grunge scene. Each era has something we can all love and pull style inspiration from.
It’s Beyond My Control: What message/advise do you have for women who have never bought vintage clothes before? For example: what are the key pieces to start building a vintage look? What to keep in mind when making a purchase?
Pursuing Andie: Key pieces are the same as they would be today, you can’t go wrong with a little black dress, a cardigan and a great pair of shoes. The most important thing to know is your measurements. Bust, waist, hips…. As a very tall woman the most important measurement for me is shoulder to waist, especially with 1950’s dresses. I’ve made my share of online purchases thinking this is going to be so cute. But alas I end up looking like an eight year old girl. Dresses with a full skirt can be very short in the torso. A wide belt may create the illusion of a smaller waist and correct fit. But be sure to ask the online seller the shoulder to waist measurement if you are long in the torso. I don’t tend to have this issue with any garments other than 1950’s pieces.
It’s Beyond My Control: What are your 3 favourite items that you have ever sold and why have you chosen to name those particular ones?
Pursuing Andie: Having sold over 2,500 pieces online and at my home, this is a very tough question. But I’ve picked three that stick out in my memory. All three were tucked in with modern clothing at thrift shops and my heart raced when I came across them.
The first being a 1950’s Rose Marie Reid “mermaid” swimsuit. Driving home with the suit on my passenger seat, I could barely take my eyes off of it long enough to drive safely. Of course I planned on keeping it, but after much deliberation I listed it on eBay and it sold to a beauty in Australia. That same suit (not mine) was also the winner of the VLV swimsuit competition years before.
The second piece was a sheer pink chiffon gown from the late 30’s early 40’s. So feminine and classic. I secretly hoped it wouldn’t sell… I romanticised wearing it while cascading down my staircase.
The third was so beautiful I was in awe of the dress. A 1950’s black cocktail dress with a lace overlay. I would have cut out a few ribs to wear that one. The moment I found it I drove home, photographed it, shared the photo on Instagram and she was gone in a flash. Truly a magical piece. The unicorn of my vintage finds.
It’s Beyond My Control: What are your favourite vintage brands and are they very difficult to find?
Pursuing Andie: The pieces I’ve found locally range from anything that could have been found at major department stores in the 1950’s to slightly more desirable labels. I live an area that was a farming community, finding Dior would be highly unlikely here. I have come across a lot of Lilli Ann, Ceil Chapman, Schiaparelli, and Alfred Shaheen pieces. You never know what you are going to find when you go treasure hunting. If I love it, I buy it regardless of the label.
It’s Beyond My Control: What’s in your wardrobe? Do you personally wear vintage clothes on a daily basis?
Pursuing Andie: My wardrobe is made up of 90% vintage. I wear a dress or skirt daily. I used to get asked everywhere I went, “why are you so dressed up?” eventually those same people who asked became used to my sense of style and realised it’s just who I am. I love a good pair of jeans, but a dress is what you will find me wearing most days.