Spring is in the air which is a great excuse for a fresh round of activities, and what does any style conscious woman need for all of these forthcoming social gatherings but new frocks. I am aware that I already have some stashed away, so I felt it only proper to begin my frock project within the warmth and safety of my wardrobe, to see if I had anything within it that would be suitable for a birthday lunch party, a school shindig and an evening drinks.
After 2 hours of fashion scrutiny I came up with 3 possibilities, one for each event, however although they were satisfactory they did not express fully the gratification I normally feel when I know I have succeeded in garment selection, and simply conveyed a sense of 'making do', but I will never give in so I tried a different angle and began to look at separates, which are repeatedly overlooked, as the statement dress is often the easier choice, separates require considered thought of colours, fabrics, styles and patterns that work together, separates involve more work and creativity on the part of the wearer.
I narrowed my search down to three items that demanded I find another piece to finish the ensemble. This was going to be a very exciting project, I would require a jacket for some soft suede navy YSL trousers, a bright top for some plain black skinny Earl jeans and blouse for a velvet Ralph Lauren skirt. Where on earth should I begin my search? My question was answered when I attended a one-off charity auction in one of the larger cities here, which one of the mothers at school had invited me to, not a furniture auction, but one where elegant genuine vintage clothing was up for sale along with some small pieces of bedroom items for the dressing table, very much a female auction. I have been to a couple of auctions since our arrival here and they have been pretty informal events, this was considerably different with some eye watering polished ladies sharpening their Manolo heels to ensure they snare their target items before anyone else. We arrived in good time to register and to peruse the vintage goods which were mostly in pristine condition and I earmarked five potential pieces.
The sale was enormously exciting and I found myself completely absorbed in the tension of the room. These buyers clearly frequented auctions regularly as it soon became clear that some lots were completely ignored while others had many bidders, these women knew what was worth having and what wasn't. My first item came up a Moschino (mainline) navy jacket with small mirrored circles embroidered on the flaps of the pockets. Bidding began and with my heart pounding I raised my hand, big mistake, as I had played my hand to the women of prey who could smell my fear and my novice credentials. I was completely out of my depth and I was lulled into believing I would get my prize as bidding was slow and low, but then the big guns waded in as the jacket hit the price I wanted to pay and then quickly sored out of my reach and into the arms of a woman with slits for eyes.
My friend told me to wait until the last moment to bid on the next item I wanted and be willing to go 10% over my top price. So I was better prepared when my next piece came up a beautiful Pucci print shirt made up of all my favourite pastel colours and perfect for my Earl Jeans. I was patient and observed the other bidders more closely, the price had crept up close to my top price when I raised my hand, "Any more bids on this gorgeous piece"? the auctioneer boomed out, yes there was and a sinewy blonde raised her hand, I waited as the auctioneer looked over to me, I feigned disinterest and then he looked out to the rest of the room, no more bids, I seized my moment and raised my hand again, holding my breath and waiting. It seemed to take forever as he looked over the the blonde who shook her coiffed head, then "Going, gone" and he banged the hammer down. Oh joy, it was mine. I showed no emotion as I had not seen any of these cool customers flicker any clues to their enjoyment of winning, I kept my head focused on the remainder of the auction and winning the further objects of desire.
I lost one piece, a Lanvin blouse, but made up for this with a Chloe blouse for my skirt and was brimming with confidence. My final treasure was within reach a Chanel jacket (navy with gold buttons) and I knew that it would be sought after, anything with the Chanel label is always going to sell well and I wanted it, I had tried it on and was instantly in love with this gem and it had to be mine. To buy new, this piece of art would cost me close to £3,000, so I was prepared to go quite high on this as we all know Chanel rarely have sales. The auctioneer announced the jacket and the room fell quiet as bidding began at £150, there were two telephone bidders and I was actually quite scarred that I might get carried away and buy it at any price just to win, I had done well with my other two purchases paying less than I anticipated so had some extra in the pot should I need it. Very quickly we were up to £500 and I still hadn't shown my hand, at £610 the bidding had slowed and I sensed the moment was not yet there and waited. £620, from a new bidder with a rich ginger bob and glossy lips, a pause for a show of a hand, £630. Things were definitely slowing £640, no one moved, he looked around and opened his mouth to speak, and then I knew my moment had arrived and I raised my hand £650, ginger bob spun round and glared at me raising her hand, £660, I breathed and calmly lifted my hand £670. Silence I could feel the heat of ginger bob seeping out and I knew I had victory, I didn't move my gaze from the auctioneer who was looking round the room and he raised the hammer and said "Going, gone" bang. "Yes", I blurted out, possibly a little loud as several shiny heads turned in my direction, but I did not care what these skinny latte loving, salad eating women thought, I was overjoyed and beaming, I would love and cherish this jacket forever and give it it's very own special space in my wardrobe.
To ensure handsome husband didn't feel left out I slipped in a bid to snare a vintage Leonard tie for his own collection, and left the auction delighted that I had benefited from the day along with the very worthwhile charities.