When lots of us go looking for vintage, we’re looking for that perfect pristine dress. While I love deadstock vintage, I’ve recently started to see some of the benefits of buying “as is” pieces for daily wear. In part, this is dictated by size range. There’s much more deadstock vintage for cheaper prices in smaller size ranges. Plus size vintage shopping can be competitive and prices can be higher due to rarity, so finding great “as is” dresses allows me to stock up on more of my favorite vintage styles. Today I’ll be showing you how some “as is” dress still wear just as well as flawless ones, as well as some questions you should ask before you purchase an “as is”piece.
My supreme vintage addiction is 1940’s novelty prints. While these do occasionally come up in like new condition in plus sizes, they’re incredibly rare and as a result usually have a price tag to match. While I don’t mind paying big ticket prices for dream dresses, I’ve also learned what flaws I can and can’t live with in a dress so I can widen my search parameters. Both of these dresses come from Swell Farewell, who recently bought a huge lot of plus size dresses from the 1940’s and 1950’s (I’ll have a shopping post up later this week covering the rest of her haul).
If you find an “as is” dress that you’re interested in, here are some things you should ask about before you jump on it.
- What are the flaws (with pictures)? How noticeable are they?
- What is the condition of the rest of the garment? Is it strong or frail? Flaws are fine, but since I don’t sew I can’t do vintage that needs lots of repairs or has stressed seams.
- Does it have odors? Smells can be considered flaws and most people know their level of smell tolerance. I cannot deal with garments with smells, so I’m actually pickiest about this part.
Most importantly, flaws should not mean surprises. I’m happy to buy dresses with flaws, but I want to know what they are and what I’m getting into. If a dress is otherwise strong and has lots of life left in it, you can easily either work on the flaws or just overlook them. If it’s a busy print, no one will see it anyway (and if some stranger is that close to you and staring at your dress flaws then they’re just creepy).
These two dresses are great illustrations of flaws that don’t detract from the dress and still wear beautifully. Both are 1940’s rayons. The ballerina print is sheer, while the green dove print is less so. I’ve actually gone to the trouble of photographing the major flaw in the green dove dress for you.
See that faint little watermark? That’s one flaw, which is hardly noticeable even with my new short hair. The other is a slight pull on the dress, which I couldn’t even find immediately when I took it out of the package. The flaw on the other dress can actually be seen in the swatch – there’s color bleed and some of the blue has bled into the white ballerinas. Again, from afar you can’t even tell and I don’t think the average person would even know. Sheer rayons in perfect condition can be incredibly expensive, so I was so happy to find this gorgeous print for a steal.
Do you prefer mint condition vintage or “as is” dresses? What types of things are on your must have list when it comes to vintage clothing?