There’s nothing I love more than spending my weekend trawling through vintage treasures. Lately though, I’ve found that some of the vintage shops up here are getting a little stale and it’s been a while since I’ve managed to find something really special. So you can imagine my excitement when last weekend, a really interesting opportunity came up to visit the late Vervia Todd’s home in Houghton and buy pieces from her huge vintage collection. With dresses and clothing ranging from 1800s to the 1970s, handbags, shoes, lingerie, fabrics and cosmetics, Vervia’s extensive collection spanned decades and showed a real dedication to fashion, which took the executors of her will by complete surprise. On clearing out the old family home, her friends uncovered boxes and trunks filled with beautiful clothing belong to three generations of the Todd family, beloning Vervia’s grandmother and mother as well as her own carefully curated pieces. As soon as I heard about the sale, I knew I couldn’t miss out. At £15 for a ticket, I thought even if I didn’t buy any of the pieces, it would still be an amazing opportunity to see such a huge collection of vintage pieces. Who’d have thought a small terrace home could hold so much history?
I’m mostly interested in fashion from 1920s to 1970s, and find that most vintage shops up here seem to be stocked full of shiny metallic 80s ball gowns and really over the top pieces that I could never really see myself wearing. What I loved about Vervia’s collection is that her style was so classic. Within minutes of getting into the house, I had armfuls of clothing to try on. In the end I didn’t go too mental though, coming out with a gorgeous 50s houndstooth two piece suit and a 60s cotton top with embroidered detailing around the neck.
Taking place in her old house, there was something very poignant about the sale. A couple of friends of mine joked that it was a bit weird that I was spending my weekend buying a dead woman’s clothes.. and I guess in a way it was. Although she clearly lived a very happy and full life, she was a woman who suffered great loss. Like a lot of her generation, she was embroiled in a world at war, and volunteered in the army until 1945. Sadly, it was during the war which she lost her fiancé; her wedding dress was carefully stored away in a trunk and she never married. Seeing her dress displayed in her sitting room was very moving. Although it’s a sad story, Vervia clearly was surrounded by some very loving people. She travelled the world, had a good job in the civil service and clearly a love of fashion which she indulged in on trips to London and Edinburgh. I find it incredible that Vervia’s friends felt so passionately that the clothes could continue to be loved and enjoyed for more years to come. After taking them pretty much an entire year to organise the house and collection, Vervia’s Vintage Attic sale was truly a labour of love. I’m so pleased I got the opportunity to go along. I can’t wait to share my finds!