Monday, June 4, 2012

Weekend Finds Part One (the Dresses of Our DREAMS!)

Ladies and gentlemen! The estate sale luck that shone down on me from the firmament this weekend was just...unbelievable!

Feast your eyes on not one, but TWO, dresses-that-are-almost-too-good-to-be-true:

The Girl Can't Help It

I went shopping with Rae and Eartha this weekend (and even ran into Jamie at the first sale!) on another retro bloggers meet-up brought to you by no-one-will-go-do-neat-things-with-me-thank-you-ladies-for-being-so-cool, and we hit two sales that were just about equidistant from my house-- one in Madison and one in East Nashville. The Madison one was r-i-f-e with children's clothes and maternity clothes from the fifties' (neat!) and featured a heartbreakingly expensive (yet fairly priced) green 1930's Kodak and those mechanical monkeys I showed you in Thursday's post. The monkeys were gone when I got there, as was my typist; the green Kodak was just too unjustifiable a purchase. I did pick up a little autograph hound, one child's embroidered Desi Arnaz style shirt with drum and figures, a red leather purse, and some other little tchotchkes I'll have to disclose on tomorrow's blog.

At the second sale, in another one of the disused, kind-of-creepy houses you see in estate sales sometimes, the whipstitch lamp and the African panel picture was already gone, but in the same room, I found a rack of vintage clothes, and just about stopped DEAD when I saw the sequins:

And I can't help it!

GOOD LORD, IS THAT A SIXTIES' SHOWGIRL DRESS OR *ISN'T* IT? I really never thought to, in my life, outside of a vintage-store or etsy setting, see something in as good a condition as the gold sequined dress I was holding in my hands this past Friday morning. It still had the tags on it!

Pretend the backdrop of this picture is actually the Sands in Vegas, and not the un-picturesque back patio of my house. I thank you.

And there was a second one? In black? In the same size and condition?

Obviously, I carried both of them around the sale with me in a state of nervous agitation, swinging an armful of the dresses-on-hangers through the narrow rest of the house. I consulted my fellow retro ladies, who were in agreement that "you're never gonna find another two (two!) dresses like that", and didn't act like I was out of my mind insane for considering both (have I told you, lately, how much fun it is to go to sales with people who are as in to sales as you?). The price tags (the new ones, not the old Miami 60's ones) were marked $35 apiece... while that doesn't sound exorbitant when you think about online prices for mint vintage, it's a lot when you're going around estate sales where usually the most expensive thing you're going to buy might...might.... be $10. I got an entire suite of good condition 1930's bedroom furniture once-- over-sized round mirror, wardrobe, and bed-frame...with box spring and mattress-- for the same price the two dresses together were going to cost me. Sometimes it's exasperating to have to argue with yourself over your own cheapness.

So excited as to possibly burst into a Charleston dance. Isn't it funny how this dress can be both flapper or fifties' bombshell? It's versatile!
I hemmed and hawwed with the estate sale woman as she passed by me in the yellow room where I'd picked the dresses up, mentioning how gorgeous they were but I'd hate to get them home and not have them fit, etc, etc. I've been turned down outright at different estate sales about trying things on (I think with a lot of vintage items' fragile condition, sellers worry about me trying to fit my 2012 hips through a garment that was made for 1962 hips FAR narrower and ruining the piece via a busted zipper or split seam), so I didn't even think to ask to try changing into them when the saleswoman suggested I avail myself to an unused bathroom with a lock on the door.

In an unairconditioned room that was somehow 400 degrees hotter than the unusually cool outside weather, I shimmied out of my day clothes and into these Ann Margaret evening dresses and ALMOST HAD A HEART ATTACK WHEN THE ZIPPER WENT UP WITH NOT A WHIT OF HESITATION. Are you kidding me? Being a fan of fitted (read: sometimes almost too small?) clothing, I'm no stranger to hooking the hook and eye closure and, as Hattie McDaniel famously advises Scarlett on screen while doing her stays, sucking in as hard as I can to budge an uncooperative zipper. Because I know that whoever the dress was initially designed for, and even whoever wore it off the rack back in the day, was p-ro-b-a-b-l-y not a six foot tall Teutonic wild woman such as myself. In this case, though, total victory!

My better (or worse?) nature won out and I bought both of them. For, again, the price of an unbelievably inexpensive Depression era bedroom suite. But still! I thought about all the times in my life I would regret not buying either or both of them, and just had to pull the trigger on it. You know they must have cost more than that apiece back when they were new. That's the bedtime lullaby I tell my fiscal conscience just before I fall asleep.

What do you think is the story behind the two unused until now (soon to be heavily used) dresses? I like to imagine a woman being goaded by a girlfriend or her husband into buying two ultra-sexy dresses while on vacation in Miami, then losing the holiday-induced nerve upon returning home. Or maybe she bought the dresses for her singing debut in the Holiday Inn lounge and the manager cancelled at the last minute, never to reschedule? There's a wealth of romance in these two heavily sequined numbers!

Did you find anything that just blew your mind this past weekend? What's your most prized piece of clothing, snatched from the halls of shopping glory? I'd love to hear about it!

PS: More from the sales (including a honest-to-Goshen MONKEY CAGE ) at Rae's blog today! Go check it out!

See you tomorrow!


  1. unreal!!!!!!!! You did the right thing in buying both of these dresses. They really are dream dresses.


  2. Three hundred cheers! Girl, those dresses look like they were made just for you! It kind of makes you wonder what else was there in your size when the doors opened that morning - but in the end, it doesn't matter because those dresses are off the hook perfect. I'm so glad that you got them. Thanks for the invite to go sale-ing with you!

  3. Gorgeous dresses - they look fabulous on you. And it was absolutely the right decision to buy them both. How on earth would you have decided which one to take if you were picking just one? They'll both definitely have occasions they were each made for.

  4. lisa!! those are amazing!! i am so happy for you and SOOOO glad you got them!!!

  5. dang! there was no way you could say no to those! they look like they were custom made for you! i think the gold is my favorite! and if you are even in dire straits you can probably sell them for a tidy profit on etsy! haha, not that you will. i bet you are right about the vacation purchase! how many times have i bought something on vacation high, only to come home and never pull it out of the closet again. you and those dresses were MEANT TO BE!

  6. Oh what a wonderful tale!! I am so glad you got both of those glorious babies and they fit you like a glove! I love fitted frocks too and back in the 50s and 60s they were cut to fit the body like a glove, so these days people think they're on the "small" side when really they just fit right! I just know you will treasure these beautiful, beautiful dresses:)) xo

  7. Those dresses were just made for you! I want to go sale-ing with y'all.

  8. nice posting.. thanks for sharing..



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