exclusivity - Finding something that only you might have - you might be one of 10, 5, or the sole owner of a special piece. Friends can be jealous but can't copy you. While I consider my Chanel 2.55 to be my most valuable fashion possession, I equally (and fiercely) love my Liz Claiborne military/Chanel style tunic that I found in my mom's closet. No, seriously.
archival quality - Some of us are
the thrill of the chase - I remember walking flea markets with my mother when I first moved to New York. We stopped at the little lot that has a lot of junk vendors on 16th and 6th ave. Imagine my surprise when I found a red wool Guy La Roche skirt tucked away on a $10 rack! I had to keep my calm as much as possible until we left; then I started freaking out at my lucky find. These don't happen that often, but when they do, they're memorable experiences.
attention to detail - These days, things ain't made how they used to be, which would probably explain why vintage pieces are usually in good condition if they've been even moderately cared for. Plus, vintage articles aren't necessarily made in Italy but they sure aren't made in China.
inspiration - My first truly designer vintage experience happened on a trip to the What Comes Around Goes Around private showroom in Tribeca to help a designer gather some inspiration. The things I saw there I can never see again, most likely - it was an incredible sensory overload.
demureness - Long gone are the It bags of the Aughts - Fendi baguettes, Chloe Paddingtons (which mine, by the way, is sitting at the bottom of a trunk in a pillow case because I'm too embarrassed to carry it now), Balenciaga City Motorcycle, or the Marc Jacobs Stam bags. Nowadays, it's more about the uniqueness of the bag instead of the label. In fact, the less obvious the label, the better! (see: Celine.) If someone has to ask you where you got your bag, you know you've got a good one.
history- History is traceable through so many things and my two favorites happen to be food and costume. You can see the entire history and mood of a designer by looking through archives - dark periods, social change, personal struggles.
sustainability - It is actually recycling at it's core - one person's cast off is another's new item.
So how do you know how much a vintage piece is valued at? It's really a matter of supply and demand. Maybe tomorrow there will be a new-found love of, say, Leonard or Sonia Rykiel for some contribution or historical context, but today it's only worth x dollars. So the way I value vintage is how much you're willing to pay for the privilege of owning it!
YSL 1970's Flamenco Skirt, Shrimpton Couture (sorry, SOLD!)
Guy La Roche 1970's top, skirt, and belt set, Shrimpton Couture ($575)
Ceil Chapman 1950's Bow and Brocade Gown, Shrimpton Couture ($875)
I honestly had to give up posting things from Shrimpton Couture - it's SO wonderful! And I switched to Pinterest for ease. You can check out my other loves (sold and otherwise) on my pure fashion board. Seriously, this stuff covers all the points I made above then some - truly sick.
Just want to browse some great vintage pieces? FIT has a great collection online for inspiration. I love seeing beautifully made clothes and getting my fashion gears going thinking about modern interpretations!
Christian Dior White Organdy Gown, c. 1955
Claire McCardell, cotton romper 1953
Vionnet, cotton and silk crepe de chine, 1938
Lanvin, black satin with kid leather 1930