Imagine our delight at Judy HQ when we were invited to the estate sale of the decade ‘Vervia’s Attic’.
Vervia Todd, the lady behind the wardrobe, sadly passed away aged 92 in 2012. A wonderful, kind and stylish character who’s obsession with clothes spanned decades. Brought up on the phrase ‘never throw anything away that might be of use’ she hoarded almost everything in her house in Houghton-le-Spring. The collection even included clothing dating back to the Edwardian era (her Grandmothers).
Tragically, during World War 2, Vervia lost her beloved Fiancé. Her wedding dress was on display during the event, a stunningly embellished gown she never got the chance to wear.
Remaining unmarried for the duration of her life, Vervia’s attention turned to clothes. She would regularly travel abroad, buying fabulous dresses, skirts, coats and jackets, these often remained unworn and were stored in her attic. One designer dress was even found stashed in the chimney! Her taste was impeccable, and being lucky enough to have a great figure in her youth, she could wear almost anything.
The astonishing thing about this story, is that her family had no idea about the collection. Carefully stashed away in suitcases around her home, the collection was only discovered once they started clearing her home in 2012!
‘[Her friend] Sheila knew that she kept things but I don’t think she realised the extent until they went up to the attic.’
The owners of vintage shop ‘Dregs of Society’ in Whitley Bay have been lovingly restoring, cleaning and cataloguing the collection for sale for over a year with Vervia’s best friend Sheila Ellis. With the help of friends and relatives, the sale of a lifetime was hosted at Vervia’s home on 7th December.
In addition to the huge fashion collection, there was a whole room dedicated to vintage cosmetics and toiletries, many unopened.
There was another room dedicated to lingerie, nightwear and children’s clothing. Although Vervia never had children of her own, she loved being an Auntie and spoiling her nieces and nephews with gorgeous outfits!
Amongst the collection were girdles, bullet bras, 1930’s silk briefs, stockings, bed jackets and slips.
Amazingly, there were even some Edwardian night dresses and under garments…
One of our favourite items in this room were the unopened stockings. Still in the original envelopes, Paula from Dregs of Society was the first person to open these envelopes during the pre-sale preparation. Post-war, stockings were like gold dust but Vervia had hers posted from Gibraltar to ensure she was always stocked up…
Next up was the separates room. Packed with blouses, skirts, knitwear, coats and even some oriental style umbrellas.
Our Fair Manager Emily managed to snap up the dreamy blue patterned wiggle dress and jacket set dating from the 1950’s.
Another room was dedicated to shoes, bags, hats, scarfs and gloves! The shoe collection even rivalled Judy’s…
The room we all found truly overwhelming was the dress room. To think that one person collected all of these exquisite gowns, day dresses and frocks knocked us speechless.
“I cried when I came into this room for the first time”, said on site fashion stylist for the day, Krista Wilson, “it is such an amazing but sad story”.
Accompanying the dresses were a collection of Vervia’s Fathers belongings including his top hat and leather dentist surgeons bag.
If that wasn’t enough there was even a fabric room, filled with surplus fabrics – many used in dresses for sale on the day – and haberdashery items.
Throughout the day Vervia’s friends and family were on hand with cups of tea and tales of Vervia’s amazing life which really added an incredibly personal touch to the event. All of us at Judy HQ bought some fantastic items we will treasure forever!
A huge thanks to everyone involved in the sale and especially Paula and Mickey from Dregs of Society for inviting us to be part of such a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Here’s Fair Manager Emily with some of our haul – we’ll be sure to share our finds with you soon.