|This was just one half of a booth. |
Imagine hundreds of these booths in a giant hall.
I went into the expo not entirely sure what to expect, but also pretty sure that I wasn't going to buy anything. I was mostly hoping to get a chance to examine some Downton Abbey-esque clothing, since museum pictures don't really give one an idea of actual construction. When I walked into the Santa Monica Convention Center, I felt like I had just walked into Comic-Con, but for vintage clothing...it was amazing! Although, for the record, more people are dressed up at Comic-Con. I did wear my Pan-Am dress, it being the most obviously vintage thing in my wardrobe; several ladies there commented on it and one even thought it was an actual vintage piece! She was very sweet when I said that I had made it myself, although I didn't tell her I made it from a poly-cotton bedsheet for less than $3.
[Incidentally, if you're planning on going to Comic-Con, ever, either paid or as a volunteer, you need to sign up for a member ID. It's not a commitment to go, but more to streamline registration. *end PSA*]
There were a ton of vendors selling clothing (mostly more modern vintage, think 1930s and on, but there were some Edwardian things a couple of absolutely lovely Victorian pieces), accessories (hats! gloves! belts! jewelry!), notions (lots of lace trims and appliques and crocheted pieces!), and shoes (not especially interesting to me). I did see a couple of stalls with sewing patterns, but they were frankly not that special and kind of overpriced ($8+, when normally I get them for less than a dollar each). Unfortunately, most of the clothing was waaaaay out of my price range, even if I'd been interested in buying. I did snag a few pictures, courtesy of kind vendors, but the lighting was quite bad and I only had my iPhone.
|The front of an Edwardian era blouse. Note the high neck, lace insertion, tiny decorative buttons, and amazing embroidery. Try not to note the fact that it's out of focus. This piece was $125.|
|I love the look of white on white embroidery. Pintucks and lace insertion seem to be common design features. This more elaborate piece was $250!|
|The back of these blouses mostly closed with tiny buttons or snaps. Another thing they all had in common was the relatively short back, with a much longer front, presumably to get the poofed-out pouter pigeon look.|
|Beautiful 1930s dress with a pink slip and a pale pink embroidered net overdress. This piece was $400.|
|The bottom of the dress. Love the glorious drapey skirt.|
|I really need to learn how to do this whole bias-cut gown thing.|
|I loved the back of the gown. I also didn't even bother trying to find out how much this piece cost.|
The highlight for me was getting to try on a couple of actual corsets from the famed San Francisco company Dark Garden. Their corsets are extremely well-made, but well out of my price range, unfortunately. It was still a treat, though, to see what a steel-boned corset should feel like: very supportive, like a tight hug, and nothing at all like the cheap, plastic-boned one that I used for my steampunk costume. The kind lady running the booth laced me down to 23", which looked a little too exaggerated an hourglass for my taste. And while I can't imagine Scarlett O'Hara's 16" waist, or Ma Ingalls' "when-I-was-married-Charles-could-put-his-hands-around-my-waist," I can see how some of those extreme-looking, old-timey photos of women in corsets weren't actually that extreme; the women were just smaller to begin with.
The only things I brought home with me were a pair of white 60s-era gloves for $5, as well as an assortment of trims, which I'll hopefully utilize in the 1912 project.
The Santa Monica Antique Mall and the Rose Bowl Flea Market are still on my list of vintage-y things to check out, but I don't know when I'll be able to go. Hopefully their prices will be better than the ones at the expo! Does anyone know of any other sources of vintage clothing in the LA area?