Thrift Store Finds: Vintage Dresses

I seem to have a knack for finding vintage dresses and handbags at thrift stores. For ridiculous prices. I mean, it’s easy to go into a specialty store like Boss Vintage and find a beautiful dress on the rack. In fact, one of the dresses below is exactly such a dress. You pay a price for that ease, though. (Note: Boss Vintage has very reasonable prices, and I love love love them in their new space, even if I do miss All American Vogue.)

Thrifting (new verb) for dresses takes a little more work. I love it. Well, I love going through the “bric-a-brac” area, because everything is there for you to see. The clothing is more of a drag. Rack upon rack of tightly packed shirts and skirts and sweaters and dresses. Even if you’re lucky enough to find a specialized “vintage” section, it’s usually populated with icky, meltable fabrics from the ’70s. Finally, you find a gem of a dress, but it was made for someone with a 24″ waist. On one occasion, I bought that dress anyway. It was simply too beautiful to leave behind. I knew I’d make a good amount of money selling it on eBay at the very least. After a couple of years, I finally listed it. End result? I got a whopping $30 for what was undeniably an amazing, mint-condition, vintage dress with great lines, rickrack trim, heart-shaped buttons, and the fullest skirt I have ever seen on a single dress. After my initial cost and the listing fee, plus the sadness of boxing it up and seeing it go, it wasn’t worth it. I remind myself of that every time I see a dress that isn’t right for me, but maybe I could… no. No no no, leave that to the experts.

Anyway, these are my newest additions. You can read their stories here.

4 Replies to “Thrift Store Finds: Vintage Dresses”

  1. Those are all beautiful finds! I love the sleeves on the cream one.

    I wish that I had the patience to shop at thrift stores. I get overwhelmed every time I go.


  2. First–you raise good points about thrifting. It can be really hard to find good things, can’t it? And thank you relaying that story about the gorgeous 24 inch waist you tried to sell. There seems to be a perception that it’s easy money to sell vintage on eBay and as you found, it’s generally not that easy. It’s surprising how hard it is to get the shots right, the keywords and every other little detail that’s involved with selling vintage. When you’re selling on eBay there are so many variables with each item. And, you need more than one person to fall in love with the dress that’s just the right size. I also think that the moon must play a part in it, too.

    Secondly– I’m inspired to create a flickr account to show my dresses in my closet because yours are so lovely. I seldom show my own clothes online since I’m usually too busy trying to keep up with adding to the site. When there’s a project like this looming, the last thing I want to do is shoot more clothes.

    I like the pink dress jacket/suit you just got. Is there a label in that one? It looks expensive. Is it a silk blend? I also love your black cocktail dress with the ostrich feather trim. VA-va-voom!

    Seeing the two Mizrahi for Target dresses with the moiré effect on the fabric (or as I know them, brown and blue faux bois dresses) makes me realize I missed the boat on that. I should have bought one. Sigh…I’m going to have to trawl eBay for one. I know that Target brands are always in Goodwill. Gee, maybe someone who thrifted one is selling it now.


  3. Lucitebox: I love your shop! Now that you’ve seen my closet, you understand how difficult it is for me to pay actual money for more dresses. It doesn’t stop me from looking, though! Some day, you will have the dress that I Must Have. And I don’t want to miss it.
    Alas, there is no label (beyond Union Made) in the pink outfit. Up close, the fabric looks like linen, but feels more like… well, Rayon, actually. It’s also wrinkled at the moment, but it was faster to run it through Photoshop than to steam it.
    When I first bought the feathered dress, I joked that I couldn’t fit it over me AND my underwear. I had to lose a few pounds, but it was worth it.
    I bet if you find the moiré dress at Goodwill, the previous owner won’t have realized that it has hidden, on-seam pockets. You’ll get to slice them open yourself, like a birthday present!


  4. Thanks, Wink! I know what you mean. Because of the sources I have for buying vintage in a wholesale type way, it’s sometimes hard to pay retail. But, I do and when I do, it’s always something I LOVE and can’t live without.

    The only reason I hesitated on the Target dress was that the skirt doesn’t seem to be flat fitting…those tiny tucks at the sides of the waist can make me look very hippy. I like a smoother line, even on a full skirt. I didn’t bother to try it on, so if I find it, I will because I remember really liking it a lot when I saw it in the stores.

    I have many dresses that are “too small, but sooo good.” I save them for myself and pull on that creepy Spanx Higher Power girdle and cross my fingers. Sometimes, I’ll even stop eating bad foods. When that doesn’t work, I let them sit until I’m ready to release ’em to the world on my website. Believe me, I offer a lot of things for sale that should fit, almost fit, but alas, my closet is really only so big and sometimes, it just feels better to find new homes for things.


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