Back when vintage clothing didn’t have the caché that it does today, Penelope Whitmore loved and wore the clothes.

She started Ottawa’s Vintage Clothing Sale for people like her, inviting 18 vendors to sell their wares.

Twenty-five years and 50 exhibitors later, the show — the only one of its kind in Ottawa — is back at the Chateau Laurier this Sunday, where thousands of people from as far as Toronto, Montreal, the U.S. and even Paris will flock for vintage finds.


“I never thought it would go on for 25 years,” the show’s co-founder and organizer.

Although there’s a long list of vendors vying to be part of the sale, Whitmore sets her standards high, limiting the goods to clothing — coats, hats, purses, jewelry, dresses, shoes, scarves, shawls, linens and lace dating from 1900 to the 1970s — no furniture, glass or silver.

“Clothing is what I know,” she said. “It’s what I love. The appeal for me is that it’s well made,” she added. “And it’s one of a kind. You won’t find it in a size 2, 10 and 12. You’re never going to go out and see your dress on someone else. And the workmanship is well beyond anything you see in stores today. When stuff from the 40s and 50s comes in and it’s in mint condition, that says it stood up to the test of time.”

Whitmore’s own favourite finds include a pair of mint condition saddle shoes, a sapphire ring and a long, velvet-lined opera coat with a rabbit trim.

“If I see something I really love, I buy it,” she said. “But it’s really got to be special. That’s part of the joy of vintage clothing — that you really do feel special.”

The show runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Donations to the Ottawa Food Bank are also welcome.

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