Where to Find Great Scarves
Ebay is the obvious place to start looking for scarves for your collection - and also a good place to sell duplicates or items you tire of. The choice is absolutely vast (a search for 'silk scarf' yielded 48,474 results when I last checked). Although its a great way to see what is available, it pays to be very, very selective.
for Your Collection
Before you bid, take special note of the condition of an item. Don't hesitate to contact the seller if you need further information or photos. With designer items, be very alert indeed for fakes (see Counterfeit, Fake and Reproduction Scarves
). Be very cautious as to whether the period/age given in the description is correct. And don't let the scent of a bargain cloud your judgment!
While Ebay is a huge boon to collectors, I can't help thinking that being able to (sometimes) locate the exact item you're searching for in a matter of seconds tends to take some of the fun out of collecting. I'll bet that the finds you're proudest of will instead come from other sources where you can truly experience the thrill of uncovering an unexpected treasure.
For this don't pass on yard sales and estate sales (jumble sales and car boot sales in the UK). This is where real treasures are still sometimes to be found, often at give-away prices as the seller may not be aware of the items' desirability. If you don't see any scarves initially, it's always worth asking. Often they're tucked away somewhere (always check a the bottom of crates of clothing, and in old trunks and suitcases) as the seller hasn't considered them worth displaying.
Thrift stores (charity shops) are likewise well worth keeping an eye on. Check back as often as you can, as new items come in all the time. Befriending the people who sort through the donations is a great idea - if they know what you're looking for they may be willing to alert you when new items come in, or even put special items aside for you. Here in London, charity shops in upscale areas, such as those on Marylebone High Street, are a particularly good hunting ground for quality scarves (although prices are not as cheap as the used to be). But don't discount thrift stores in any area - you never know when or where someone may choose to dispose of Aunt Susan's vintage scarves!
Consignment stores (dress agencies and nearly new shops in the UK) and vintage dress stores are good places to find designer and brand name scarves. But don't expect too many bargains as store owners have wised-up to scarf collectors. Get to know your local stores, and don't forget to check out the vintage scene when you travel - even smaller towns may have a consignment or vintage store.
Don't overlook online vintage clothing stores. You'll find a great selection of scarves and shawls from all periods, with prices ranging from $10 or so to many thousands! There are so many of these stores (and some of them come and go quite fast) that I don't want to attempt recommendations at the moment (although I may get around to it in the future...). However She's a Betty blog has an 'Online Vintage Clothing Directory
' that's well worth a look. Scarves are also increasingly being featured in Etsy's
Check with auction houses for sales of vintage textiles. Scarves are generally grouped together into lots, and frustratingly you'll often find one very desirable scarf grouped together with several less attractive ones. Keep in mind that it may still be worth bidding for the lot - the other scarves can be sold on, or perhaps swapped with other collectors.
Last, but not least, ask around! Family and friends may well have a stash of old scarves - ones they don't wear, but are 'too good to throw away' - that they're happy to pass on to you. Freecycle
and similar schemes are also worth a try. Put the word out that you're offering an appreciative home to vintage scarves, and who knows what may come your way.
Next: Counterfeit, Fake and Reproduction Scarves