Every now and again I love to go onto Right Move, set a search for houses over a million pounds and have a look around all those gorgeous dreamy properties I just cannot even imagine ever affording. We all do it in one way or another, that’s why property shows are so popular on TV. It’s called house p@rn! (don’t want that word picked up by Google!) Well, I’ve started getting addicted to another type, vintage p@rn. No, not looking at nudy, rudy pictures from times gone by (wash your fifthly mind out!). No, I mean going onto Etsy, setting the price to show anything over £300 and lusting over all of those stunning mint condition dresses that I’ll never have.
So, with that in mind, I’ve put together a list of my most favourite ones which, at the time of writing this, are still available to buy. I’ve listed them with the highest price first, going down to the lowest (above £300). You’ll probably be surprised to hear that the most expensive one in my list isn’t by any stretch of the imagination the most expensive on Etsy. That one is an extremely eye-watering £205,761!!! You can see it in all its glory here.
This dress actually doesn’t look much to the casual observer but, I tell you, I would happily die in this dress! The seaming on it is a total masterpiece. Vionnet was the world’s very first fashion designer and a pioneer in the 1930s. Nobody cut clothes the way she did and to own an original numbered bias cut dress designed by her like this is the probably the holy grail for me. I would have to be mega rich though to justify spending that much on a dress though! 🙁
If you know anything about film costumes during the 1930s and 40s you’ll have heard of Adrian. He was the ultimate costume designer who designed for over 200 Hollywood films and every starlet wanted to be dressed by him. This beauty is in a stunning navy crepe with a vivid oversized phoenix print. The front bodice phoenix is adorned with sequins, which I can imagine were hand sewn on.
Madame Grés was another leading fashion designer from the 1930s and worked under the label of Alix Barton up until 1934. After this, until she married in 1942, she designed under her own name, Alix Grés. The title of this incredible Grecian silk jersey dress includes the name Alix Grés but for the price I’d want to see a photo of its label to prove it’s age. It’s a stunner none the less, and I could just imagine it on the red carpet at some Hollywood premiere.
The first non-designer piece in the list is this gorgeous blush pink silk and lace evening gown. It just screams the 1930s with its different panels of bias cut fabric. I just love the plaited detailing on the shoulders and beautiful flutter sleeves. This is exactly the sort of style I’d go for in an evening gown, although knowing me I’d want it in a much brighter colour.
This baby has been on Etsy for a while now as it often pops up in my searches. I adore the colour, the shininess of the fabric and the beautiful bias cut panels. Looking at the style I would say it was late 20s/early 30s rather than any earlier. However, despite the cost this does have a few small flaws including missing rhinestones on the shoulder clasp and fraying around the top. It’s also teeny tiny with just a small 33″ hip. I’d never get it on!
This beautiful Edwardian column dress is offered by one of my favourite Etsy sellers FabGabs. Apparently the silk under layer is incredibly strong which is unusual for a piece of this age. It must’ve been very well looked after all these years. However, the tulle layer does have a small hole and some missing fringe sections but I’m sure someone could restore it beautifully. It’s not a task I’d like to do but I’d certainly enjoy wearing it.
This amazing 1930s tulle dress is my second favourite in this list, after the Vionnet one. It’s so delicate and so ethereal. I love the pretty contrasting floral embroidery, especially down the front bodice. The ruffles around the sleeves and neckline are just exquisite, make sure you have a look at the back photo on Etsy. I’d love to wear something like this to afternoon tea or a stroll in the park with a lace parasol but I’d be terrified of ripping it!
A Pake Mu’u is an elegant Hawaiian dress with pointed batwing sleeves and a mandarin collar that was transformed from the more traditional mu’umu’u in the early 20th Century. This beautiful rayon 1940s version was made for Watumull’s department store in Hawaii. The print on the sleeves with traditional Hawaiian ladies wearing and offering floral leis (Hawaiian garlands) is just exquisite. I adore it’s style, I can just imagine the lady who originally wore it felt so chic in it.
This 1930s stunner is one of those classic hidden surprise dresses. Not only does it have a revealing slit almost all the way down the back bodice, but it also has a sneaky slit right up the front skirt. I can imagine it’s wonderful to walk in with that silky satin encasing your body and your elegant legs flashing with each step.
And last, but certainly not least, is this gorgeous silk 1920s dress. The print on it is incredible, so indicative of the period with its modernist abstract design. I love the unusual colour combination of black, orange, purpley blue, red and pale pink too. I can just imagine a young flamboyant Flapper wearing this with matching purpley blue cloche and Mary Jane shoes.
Have you spied anything on Etsy that you absolutely adore but couldn’t, in a million years, justify buying?