Monday, February 05, 2007

Today Specialist Auctions is interviewing Pauline, formerly Fashiontales on Ebay and now ChiChiChambers on Specialist Auctions.

Viviene: When did you start selling online and how did you wind up selling vintage clothing?

Pauline: I started selling on eBay in March of 1999 to pass on many of my mother-in-law's pieces of china and glassware after she passed away. From there I started going to estate sales and whenever I would see a vintage piece of clothing I would grab it! My love of vintage clothing started back in the 1960s but it wasn't something that caught on well with my peers and I was ridiculed for it, but the passion was still there. I was always pouring over old photos to see the clothes and asking my mom questions about what she wore. The funny thing is I had sold some dresses on eBay and then I happened upon some old t-shirts. They were the ones that are called wife beaters. Those were going so high it sent me to the Vintage clothing and accessories board on eBay to ask about them. I met many wonderful people and decided I only wanted to sell vintage. It wasn't because I thought I would make a killing selling vintage clothes but because it was something I loved and I loved seeking it out, you know the thrill of the hunt and all!

Viviene: Did you always love vintage clothing or was it something that attracted
you later?

Pauline: I have loved it since back in junior high in the late 1960s. But it wasn’t until I started selling that I began learning so much more about it. For instance, I had never paid attention to the construction details like I do now. And clothing especially vintage lingerie was so much better made. Lingerie is my real passion.

Viviene: Did the clothing your mother wore have any influence on you enjoying
vintage clothing?

Pauline: It was my mother's stories about the fads they had when she was in high school that started it. I remember the pictures of her wearing short shorts back in the very early 1950s before it was really acceptable to wear something so revealing. The older I got the more I would think back to other clothing that she wore. I still remember shopping trips with her and what she bought. Now I wish I still had those pieces. I have a few but not all the cocktail dresses that she had. I even have one hat and a picture of her wearing that hat. My aunts all had gorgeous full skirted dresses that I have pictures of them wearing.

Viviene: Do you have a favorite era of clothing that you personally collect and
if so why is it your favorite?

Pauline: The 50’s and early 60’s are my favorite eras. I guess it's because I lived that era so I know it better. I would love to be able to learn more about Edwardian and Victorian era clothing, Victorian clothes mostly because of the area I live in which is steeped in history from the Civil War. I can drive 20 miles down the road to Gettysburg and go to museums and stores and see these pieces which I love looking at but just can’t get a good handle on dating. So even if I acquired some I wouldn’t know much about them.

Viviene: When you started selling vintage clothing under the id of Fashiontales
what was your personal selling style at that time and has that style changed with time?

Pauline: My descriptions were boring in my eyes and I romanced each piece I brought home. So I thought why not romance each piece by describing it in a tale such as romantic tales of men with women in a gorgeous outfit, their fingers gently dancing down spaghetti straps, over a tight bodice of brocade that they could feel on their fingertips. Full skirts that blew around enveloping them together as lips parted....... That was the only way I could do it. And I did get fan mail from people who actually just went to my Fashiontales eBay site just to read for a little pick me up. But times are changing and I don't think people love the romance anymore as much as just wanting the bare facts. So I changed my name and style of listing.

Viviene: Why did you choose the name ChiChiChambers?

Pauline: Well I figured things were changing on eBay and after hearing sellers comment on just wanting the bare facts when they purchase clothing, I decided I should get rid of the Fashiontales image that I had. So my dad’s pet name for my mom was chichi and I live in Chambersburg so I put the two together. In addition, chambers also has the meaning of bedroom so it still gives me a slightly romantic edge to my name.

Viviene: I've heard that you were one of the original Vintage Fashion Guild
members and co-wrote the fur resource and also wrote the lingerie resource.
What was it like being in on the ground floor of that organization?

Pauline: It was fun being part of an organization and watching it grow. There were so many knowledgeable people in the Guild and they helped me to grow. I enjoyed doing all the research for them. There were a lot of people I made friends with and I enjoyed going there everyday to chat with them.

Viviene: Do you think that in the past 5 years there has been a big change in the
way vintage clothing is perceived?

Pauline: In some ways vintage has been perceived as easily accessible but it's not. It gets harder and harder each day to find good quality vintage. I am not speaking of 70's and 80's clothing. I also think that there are many younger sellers out there that think that selling vintage clothing is just a way to make money and don't realize the full value of it. Not all younger sellers though. There are some really good vintage people that are younger. But it's wonderful to be able to feel a piece that old and study all the construction of it and the design that went into some of these pieces, even pieces made by hand. It's priceless to me when you get a 1940s WWII era piece of clothing and know that it was made by a wife or mother who had someone in the service fighting for their country and they had to make their own clothes because of all the restrictions on fabric and such due to the war. I have a wartime sewing book that I love to pour over.

Viviene: Do you have a most memorable customer story you would like to share with

Pauline: Well there have been some new buyers that well ....Lets just say I tried hard to teach them and in the end they were fine with everything. And I would like to think they continued to buy and learn. But as far as memorable customers go, not any one sticks out in my mind. I just love to hear from them and what plans they had for wearing my clothing. I guess my feedback speaks for the fact that I have had some very happy customers.

Viviene: Pauline's items can be found at her store at Specialist Auctions.

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Dingmans Ferry, Pennsylvania, United States
We are the owners of Mod Mary's Vintage on Etsy.