Dress Agencies are Cool!
I'd never been in one, never even come across one; now, try and keep me out of Mint Dress Agency in Kingsbridge.
Kingsbridge is one of my favourite towns in south Devon to mooch around. Glam boutiques, some great interiors stores and art galleries and one or two lovely spots to sit and cuddle a coffee, all against a pretty estuary backdrop; what’s not to love? Now, I’ve ferreted out another reason to lose an hour or two there, in the wonderful shape of Mint Dress Agency.
It’s a little treasure trove half-way up the high street and if you pop in, you’ll discover something completely different from anywhere else in town. For those who’ve ever been in the company of owner, Janice Gordon, is there anyone else who’s more intent on making women feel good about how they look? It’s doubtful.
If you’re yet to take a peek inside this, or any other dress agency for that matter, here’s 7 totally decent reasons to rectify that little oversight at once.
1/ What is it? Go see for yourself!
It’s as good a reason as any! It’s not that it’s difficult to explain what a dress agency is, more that words don’t necessarily do the concept justice. Here’s what not to expect: a dress agency isn’t a vintage emporium, or a charity shop, or a fancy dress outlet, either. It’s none of the above and yet you might find all of the above if you time it right. Basically, it’s a boutique full of the best very gently pre-loved pieces that have come from the wardrobes of some glam ladies, and have passed the scrutiny of the owner (some still have labels on). At Mint, Janice knows her fashion and knows her customers, too, so she manages a beautifully curated, often unusual, collection of clothes, at bargain prices, that’ll find a new home with a happy shopper in no time. Which is good news for both customers and sellers.
2/ You never know what’s coming in from one day to the next
It can get a bit boring following the fashions of the high street chains, can’t it? Everything starts to look the same and then everybody begins to look the same – how very bleugh. The beauty of a dress agency is that, because there is usually only one of each item on the rail at any time, it sells quickly and that means new things coming in every day. That’s one of the reasons, says Janice, why it’s such a fun place to work. A woman may come in with a fairly normal-looking bag of clothes that she wants to sell and, somewhere in that bag, there may be an absolute classic, or a designer piece that’s dying to be worn and given a new lease of life. And that’s when I hope to be the next one to walk through the door.
3/ You might find that illusive party dress
Where’s the fun in traipsing around department stores and shopping malls, trying to second guess what everyone else will be wearing to the Christmas party, just so you don’t pick the same thing? Sometimes, a classic LBD, or jumpsuit from seasons gone by can stand the test of time and still look absolutely amazing, given some clever styling. And if you’ve been invited to a party with a theme, you might discover a statement vintage dress or some fun accessories. Being so close to the Art Deco glamour of Burgh Island, Janice often keeps her eyes peeled for flapper dresses and 1920s styles, having lost count of the number of visitors who come to Devon with nothing suitable to wear at one of the themed parties on the island.
Each time I’ve gone into Mint, I’ve discovered some gorgeous dresses in superb condition, from labels that I wouldn’t normally come across. That’s another great thing about a dress agency; all the preconceptions that often hold you back from going into a store which you think may be a bit rubbish, are stripped away. It’s a very liberating experience!
4/ That designer piece might be hiding within
If you’re a label lover and you’ve always wanted to own a Dior bag, or a Vivienne Westwood jacket, time it right and you may hit jackpot. When I last popped in, I found both and, since the previous owner has probably loved that piece as much as you’re about to, it’s always in really good nick. See, you can be a savvy shopper!
5/ You might pluck up the courage to try something you wouldn’t normally dream of
Have you ever wanted to do away with your usual look and try something that wouldn’t normally be in your wardrobe? A dress agency gives you permission to do that because you’re not buying brand new and that somehow feels safer (and cheaper!) to try it out. Perhaps you want more leather in your wardrobe, or a statement coat? All pricey pieces, unless you shop clever.
6/ Stock up, for less
Controversial, this one, but if you’re anything like me, maybe you’re planning to get in shape in the new year, and drop a dress size or two, but you still need some new clothes now. The trouble is, you hope you won’t fit in them by March, so you want to spend less than usual. It makes complete sense to hit up a dress agency in this instance. It still feels like a true shopping experience and, the collections are as seasonal as anywhere else, so when you want a cashmere cardie, rest assured you’ll likely find one, instead of a flimsy maxi dress, like the remnants of a sale rail in town.
7/ Buyers find bargains and sellers hear kerrrching!
Everyone’s a winner, really. The lifecycle of clothes goes on, customers feel they’ve snaffled a bargain and sellers manage to clear space in their wardrobes and make a bit of cash, without having to go through the hassle of listing, packing and posting on Ebay (yawn), all for a princely payout of 99p, sometimes. We’ve all been there, right? This is much more fun, which brings me nicely on to…
It’s a fun experience! Where else do you get a dressing-up session with a personal shopper these days? A good dress agency will welcome you, talk you through their stock and help you to find what you’re looking for. Lots of the clothes will have a story and Janice knows exactly what’s on the rails, what sort of person will suit a particular piece and what items work well with each other. So prepare to spend time browsing, chatting and trying on and you’ll soon find yourself a convert – and a regular!
Want to know more? Considering selling a few pre-loved pieces? Get yourself down to Mint:
23 Fore Street, Kingsbridge, TQ7 1PG. Tel: 01548 853161. Open 10 – 4.30pm Mon – Sat. mintdressagency.com