When you've trolled vintage shops and eBay, rifled through your
grandparents' attics and combed the racks at Goodwill, you may think
you've explored all the options for procuring vintage duds. But hitting an old-fashioned, off-line auction can be a great way to score designer pieces in near perfect condition.
While you can sometimes find clothing as part of a larger auction or estate sale, Karen Augusta of Augusta Auctions
has the only American auction house devoted solely to antique clothing
and textiles. Augusta knows her stuff. She's been in the business for
40 years and is a costume and textile appraiser for Antiques Roadshow.
Generally, 50-75% of what she sells are museum deaccessions — items
that a museum is purging from its permanent collection — so they range from iconic pieces like a 1970s Yves Saint Laurent gown to rare collectors items, like an 18th century waistcoat.
While auctions are old hat to her, she acknowledges that they can seem intimidating.
Television shows convince us that we could reach up to scratch an ear
and end up in the hole for six figures. Or we may fear getting caught
up in the moment and bidding our life-savings on a whim.