|GO VINTAGE: 1960s couture tiered convertible-length silk evening gown, $2,800; 1950s dress pattern, $32, at Vintagemartini.com.
photography by Elizabeth Lavin
When Ken Weber started out in the vintage clothing business, the pages of items available on eBay numbered in the hundreds. Now, thousands of pieces show up under a search for “vintage.” Carrollton-based Weber operates Vintagemartini.com, which offers goods from decades past. He scores inventory from all over the country, but not so much in Dallas. “Dallas is a difficult market to buy vintage and to sell,” Weber says. “Families moved around a lot and cleaned out houses when they did. You find some ’50s, but mainly ’60s and newer.” But there is one advantage to shopping vintage in Dallas: “Tons of clothing with Neiman Marcus labels.” Below is Weber’s advice for shoppers looking to purchase their vintage goods online.
PROCEED WITH CAUTION: Although eBay was the site on which Weber built his customer base before starting his own online outfit, he says to be wary when trolling eBay selections. Look for sellers who specialize in clothing and include detailed information about their products and photos that are large enough to see an item’s characteristics, good and bad. “Be afraid of comments like, ‘great condition for its age,’” Weber says. He also says to ask about the return policy and to not be afraid to press on matters of condition (are there holes, stains, or tears?) and odor (particularly moth balls, mildew, and smoke).
SIZE MATTERS: “Most vintage garments will not have a size tag on them,” Weber says. Therefore, he advises using bust, waist, and hip measurements to determine fit. Additionally, pattern sizing changed about 1970, so a size 12 from back then is now approximately equivalent to a size 2. He cautions against purchasing an item from a dealer who does not have accurate measurements listed for garments.
VALUE PROPOSITION: “There’s no set value for anything in the vintage world,” Weber says. “Prices will fluctuate depending on what is hot at the time, usually dictated by the fashion world or by the movies.” He says supply and demand play a part in the cost, as does emotional attachment and a piece’s importance. “Couture and designer will always be priced much higher, with numbered couture the priciest.”
WHAT’S OLD IS YOU: “The main thing about buying vintage is if you like it, then it’s worth it,” Weber says. He notes that vintage trends are cyclical, so it’s just a matter of time until your favorite piece becomes popular again, increasing its value. “So much of vintage is a fad,” Weber says, citing the recent brooch craze as proof. Still, regardless of trends, women who wear vintage have an edge: they seldom have to worry about showing up to an event with the same outfit as someone else.
www.archivevintage.com; www.vintagemartini.com; www.woodlandfarmsantiques.com.
Stylist and personal shopper Nancy Klompus (214-725-9527) specializes in vintage. If you’re really jonesing to shop vintage the old-fashioned way, Weber suggests Bon Ton Vintage Clothes (972-483-6222) in Waxahachie and Ahab Bowen (214-720-1874) in Uptown.