Monday, July 30, 2012

Costume collecting

Collecting period costumes is very satisfying in the sense that gives us a lot of information about history and customs of certain periods in modern world. From the grandest ball gown to the simplest hand-embroidered smock, the clothes and accessories that have covered the human form throughout history provide a fascinating insight into its changing needs and desires. So much costume survives that many pieces can be bought for small amounts and do not fluctuate widely in value.

Garments and accessories made in Europe and USA show a startling rapidity of change from the 18th century. However, in many other parts of the world, such as China and India, fashions have remained unchanged for centuries, almost to the present day.

In 19th century Europe and America, women's fashions sprinted from the high-waisted Empire line to the crinoline to the bustle. Accessories changed too, and it is possible to build a colourful and varied collection of hats, gloves or parasols without breaking the bank.

Some garments, such as early embroidered waistcoats, or gentleman's caps, can make hundreds or even thousands at auction if they have been well cared for. An 18th century brocaded silk open robe in top condition can fetch several thousand pounds; but with so many other interesting items on offer it is worth seeking them out rather than settling for a lesser example of the prized pieces.

 20th century costume is now widely collected. A 1960s french couture garment can be bought for a few hundred pounds. Many canny fashion victims who kept their 1980s Vivienne Westwoods and the lovers of classic style who have invested in designers such as Jean Muir, will not live to regret their purchases.

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