Is there a fashion goldmine in your wardrobe?

retro and vintage clothes of many colors for sale at flea market

Have a careful look through your wardrobe - you might have some items in there that are prized by vintage fashion collectors - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Haven’t cleared out your wardrobe in years?

With certain vintage labels highly prized by collectors, there could well be some hidden treasure in there.

Here’s what you should look out for. 

“Nineteen fifties dresses in general are becoming more desirable and valuable all the time nowadays, well they are nearly three quarters of a century old,” says Norwich vintage specialist Susie Pritchard, who runs Wake Up Little Susie.  

“So when you’re rummaging through your wardrobe or clearing out your drawers and spot some typical mid-century florals, stripes, polka dots or some cute novelty prints on a well-made garment in sturdy cotton with plenty of darts, pleats and colourful buttons, make sure you stop for a closer look at the label!  

Red dress in a white dots on a wooden hanger on a black wooden wardrobe and the black shoes on the

Look for 1950s dresses with polka dot patterns - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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“Typical off the peg brands British from the ‘50s that have stood the test of time, due to sheer quality and durability, as well as classic styling, include St Michael - I have a good many of these in my own wardrobe - and are a good addition to anyone’s collection, but there are certain labels that excite collectors, and inspire them to part with their cash, more than others.  

“One of the best examples is Horrockses Fashion, an old company that turned their hand to ‘ready to wear’ in 1946 and had their heyday during the 1950s.

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"They are known for simple cotton shirt-waisters and more glamorous evening dresses, and their fans included members of the Royal Family, with the Queen herself wearing cotton day dresses from this label during her Commonwealth tour of 1953-4.  

“On the face of it, you may not spot much difference between a St Michael and Horrockses patterned frock, so do check the labels. In collectors’ circles, Horrockses Fashion garments from the late 1940s into the early ‘60s are highly sought after, as well as being very wearable!. 

“Check the labels on your undies too,” says Susie. “In a pile of 1960s and 1970s nylon slips you’ll see St Michael, of course, Prova, Kayser, and many others but look out for Pippa Dee – ladies of a certain age will remember Pippa Dee parties in the 1970s - picture a Tupperware party but with all the colourful nylon ruffles and lace you can imagine and their gloriously synthetic nightwear and lingerie is perhaps not worth a fortune, but of interest to collectors and lingerie lovers for the heartwarming nostalgia and kitsch connotations that go with this brand.  

“Another label you might find on your nightwear and lingerie is Vanity Fair, and there are websites to actually help you to date their labels, a brand that is always of interest, and if you’re lucky enough to have American pieces in your drawers, then look out for Frederick’s of Hollywood – lingerie with a massive wow factor, and highly regarded by collectors.” 

TV director Hannah Springham owns Vintage Vegas at the Dial House hotel in Reepham. 

In the early 2000s she worked as a personal shopper at Prada between TV projects in London and it was then that her love of vintage fashion blossomed.  

"I adored the clothes I sold, but I couldn’t afford them so I scoured the vintage stalls in Camden each Sunday to recreate the looks for myself," says Hannah. 

"I loved the buzz of a successful hunt.

"I then became obsessed with car boot sales and auctions after directing Cash in The Attic and Carbooty for BBC One and the passion for old stuff spiralled." 

There are key pieces in each decade which are sought after, says Hannah.

"Of course, couture is what most high end dealers want - Christian Dior Couture for instance is like uncovering treasure.

"Chanel stands the test of time in any decade and some 1970’s Vivienne Westwood is very sought after.

"It’s a lot about condition, of course, and also if the piece was designed by the original designer - like Coco Chanel, but also the story attached to it - was it part of their first collection, modelled or photographed by someone special or was it a controversial new design which created headlines?"

In recent years, high street retailers have teamed up with designer brands and celebrities to launch collections, and these can become highly collectable, says Hannah 

"When the high street does collaborations with a designer , such as Top Shop and Kate Moss or H&M and Marni, usually they sell out which is a good sign that they’re worth investing in.

"High street was generally much better made in 1960s than it is now and as a vintage wearer and dealer myself I’d also advise people to avoid shopping on the high street where possible," she continues. 

"Fast fashion is something the planet could really do without now and there are so many fabulous second hand finds in existence."

When it comes to the styles that are trending at the moment, the 90s are well and truly back.

"Depressingly," says Hannah. "Not because I don't love it, but it means I'm old! Look out for Global Hypercolor T-shirts, Fruit of the Loom jumpers and vintage sportswear."

When it comes to designers, Vivienne Westwood and Prada are Hannah's own favourites.

"Vivienne Westwood does what she wants and puts women first. Vivienne is a legend, a powerhouse and an inspiration and she likes women who boss her clothes. I got married in a gold sequin Westwood dress and felt like a queen. 

"And Prada, partly because I used to work as a personal shopper there and she dramatically reinvents herself each season and proves that sexy doesn’t have to mean showing off your skin." 


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