The Ultimate Dream Vintage Dresses on Etsy

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.

Madeleine Vionnet 1930s dress

Cream Crepe Madeleine Vionnet 1930s Dress – £9,763

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! 🙁

Gilbert Adrian Designer 1940s Dress

1940s Novelty Bird Print Dress by Adrian – £8,698

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 Gres dress

Vintage Madame Grés Grecian Gown – £6,284

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.

1930s pink satin dress

1930s blush pink silk evening gown – £2,397

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.

1920s gold lame dress

1920s Gold Lamé Dress – £1,303

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!

1910s beaded evening gown

1912 Edwardian Column Dress – £790

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.

1930s pale blue dress

1930s Two-Toned Silk Tulle Dress – £781

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!

1940s Pake Mu'u Hawaiian Dress

1940s Pake Mu’u Hawaiian Dress from Watumull’s – £412

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.

1930s brown satin dress

1930s Floral Liquid Satin Gown – £398

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.

1920s colourful dress

1920s silk dress with Art Deco print – £375

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?

Cate

Just a vintage gal suffering from the Golden Age syndrome. Lover of all things old, lingerie obsessive, crafter and enjoys rummaging at flea markets.

34 Comments

  1. Sigh. Just heavenly. You have exquisite taste my dear Cate! No.2 is my favourite, and I’m actually thinking it wouldn’t be that hard to recreate? It’s a simply cut dress, but you’d need to paint the birds on. Very doable I reckon! And think of the savings…

    • Yes, the dress itself is quite simple, it’s definitely the print that gives it that wow factor. I dread to think what my birds would look like though if I tried to paint them! Perhaps embroidery would be more reliable. xx

  2. OMG! you know my love for “dresses i can’t own” on my own blog, so this post is the best! Holy cow these are good pieces. My favorites hands down are: The Adrian 1940’s bird dress (drool) and the 40’s Pake Mu’u (on my dream dress, might have to get someone to make it for me list).

    • I knew you’d like the Adrian dress, I actually thought of you when I saw it! A 40s Pake Mu’u has very quickly made it on to my list of things to make, they’re so incredibly elegant. xx

  3. I like the pink silk 1930s evening gown – definitely my favourite although I’m not at all sure I’d look good in it.

    • Oh nonsense! Just remember, ladies of the 1930s would’ve worn a girdle underneath this which kept everything in place from just under the bust to the thighs. Although I think it would’ve needed to be one of the innovative rubber ones, such as the Perfolastic Girdle, to get a smooth line. These days it would be all about the Spanx! xx

  4. Outside my price range for all I am afraid. I would really like to see the inside of these garments. Wouldn’t it be nice to make a copy of some of these dresses. Not too many vintage patterns from the ;30’s an prior though, more’s the pity. Thank you for sharing.

    • Oh trust me, all of them are way out of my price range, they’re just pie in the sky dresses! But we can all dream. I’d love to remake some of them, particularly the Vionnet ones, although it would be a big job to get it right.

  5. the vionnet by far is my favourite, i cannot wear a bias skirt (well of course I can, but they look awful on me) but I would love to try something similar for a blouse. what gorgeous darts, and the black edwardian one would be a close second……. would love a close up look at them all, gorgeous

    • Oh bias cut is all about the foundations! Girdles are your friend, believe me :). Bias cut sewing is definitely on my list of challenges to tackle, especially as it’s a classic 1930s thing. xx

  6. You certainly know how to pick them out Cate! My favourite is that stunning Madame Grès dress, although I wouldn’t say no to that 1920’s Art Deco print dress either. Can never resist a print, can I. Oh, and I indulge in some house p@rn too, from time to time. xxx

    • Hoorah for indulging! Have you ever been on WowHaus? I get their email newsletter to get a weekly dose of house indulgence! xx

  7. Good Grief there are some stunners there. I’ve never thought of doing that and I have absolutely no idea why!

    • Oh my gosh, you really should! There’s some really incredible pieces on there that you can swoon over. xx

  8. Clearly I’m not a ‘casual observer’, because I hadn’t scrolled halfway down the first picture before I was practically drooling. That neckline! And that amazing seam at the bust which just lies so perfectly! Sigh.

    • Oh I’d never describe you as a casual observer when it comes to how clothes are made! Isn’t that dress incredible? And it would actually fit me!! xx

  9. These are gorgeous! I especially love the cream crepe Vionnet, the blush pink evening gown, and the floral liquid satin gown. I love looking at vintage pieces, thank you for sharing!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed looking over my choices. It’s always fun to dream, isn’t it?

  10. Ooh my! This is like heaven to me! So many beautiful dresses to drool over!

    It’s hard to pick a favourite but I think the pale blue 30s dress comes close!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • That pale blue one is amazing, isn’t it? Could imagine trying to recreate it? The fabric alone would be a nightmare, never mind doing all the embroidery! xx

    • Oh yes, although most of them only accept payment by bank transfer or credit cards once the price goes over a certain amount. PayPal is just too risky for them. xx

  11. I am just dying over here – they’re all beautiful! Basically anything from the Guermantes Vintage store makes my heart stop and my bank account beg for mercy.

    • Oh I know! I used to follow Guermantes on Instagram but had to unfollow them before I actually went ahead and purchased something. My bank manager would’ve put a block on my account for sure! 🙂 xx

  12. I love the Art Deco silk dress. All are stunners, but this dress just seems very light and instantly wearable (no girldle or Spanx needed), and I can imagine myself swooshing down the street in it.

    • It’s beautiful isn’t it? Actually the majority of ladies still wore girdles in the 1920s but they were incredibly freeing compared to the corsets of prior decades. xx

  13. I sometimes look at a the higher priced hat on Etsy to limit my inspiration to the really good stuff, but now I’m going to be day dreaming over the dresses too! Just dreamy stuff.

    Like Porcelina, my first thought on seeing the phoenix dress was that it might not be hard to recreate! I can paint to a half-decent level, but I haven’t yet been game to give it a proper try on a garment. I think about it all the time though, so maybe I should just get on with it!

    • Oh gosh, yes, dreamy top end hat on Etsy are amazing! There’s so much inspiration to have for the higher priced stuff, I’d love to try and recreate so many of the dresses in my list. Oh you should give painting on fabric a go, I’d love to see that. xx

  14. I love that Gres and the final 20s one. I guess I must be Ann’s frock twin! It’s probably a good thing that I’m too fat as it limits the amount of actual vintage I can buy – if I were thinner and had more choice, I’d probably bankrupt myself.

    I love a bit of house pr0n. I always imagine getting some amazing country house in Wiltshire or Dorset, which is really stupid because I can’t actually drive!

    • Yeah, I always love to look at the really, really expensive houses around my area. There was a huge manor house set in its own gardens, very Mr Darcy, not too far from me that was up for sale last year. I loved looking at that one on Right Move! xx

  15. What a treat , these are so lovely , think the Vionnet and the gold lame , if I could have these I might have to wish for a flat stomach too !

    • Nonsense, all you need is the right foundation! Girdles are your friend with these sorts of dresses, they create a beautiful smooth line for the fabric to drape over. xx

  16. Beautiful! My favourites are the Adrian one and the gorgeous 1920’s Art Deco one. It would be amazing to own dresses like that. Never going to happen on my budget though!! Can’t beat a bit of virtual shopping!

    • That Adrian one has got a lot of love. You can see why he was so successful as a designer. Nah, they’ll never happen on my budget either but a girl can dream! xx

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