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How to Organize a Fun Vintage Fashion Fundraiser

Bronwen and her family have enjoyed collecting many things, including fans, clocks, books and shells.

A Fun Vintage Fashion Fundraiser

Holding a vintage fashion show is a great way to involve people, have fun together, and raise some funds for a favourite charity or cause.

The best way to begin is to get the people in your group enthusiastic about this fundraiser idea. They will soon be thinking about clothes that they have hidden away in some corner. So many people have articles that have happy memories (not only wedding dresses but mementos of other special occasions) and probably even some clothes of long-departed ancestors that just seem to have been kept for sentimental reasons. Soon, many in the group will be back home happily sorting out vintage and antique clothes of all kinds.

It can be a good idea to invite other local groups or clubs. Advertise it widely, so you get a good-sized audience. Depending on the size of the venue that is available, you should be able to make it into a gala event that is very popular and gets people talking and supporting your cause.

1970s Informal Wedding: Mother of the Bride

1970s Informal Wedding: Mother of the Bride

Organizing a Vintage Fashion Show

There are basic things that need to be considered in the organization of a vintage fashion show. Once you have a group of people who are enthusiastic and willing to participate, it is a good idea to meet and brainstorm about what is needing to be done. Some are suggested here, but your group will probably think of more. Make a list of these things and then find people willing to fill those positions, with an overall supervisor of the whole event as well.

  • Models: Some people will be able to model their contributions and will enjoy doing that, while others, unfortunately, don't have that twenty-two-inch waist anymore and may have to enlist one of the younger members of the family or the group to do the modelling.
  • An Organizer: Someone in charge of the models to make sure that they enter in the right order and at the right time; and possibly a small group of people to assist in the dressing-room.
  • Setting the Scene: There may need to be some men to set up the stage or catwalk. Some potted shrubs or palms or even some flowers can add to the atmosphere.
  • The Compere: This needs to be a competent person who is able to fill in if there is a gap in the models coming in. Also, much will hang on to how well and how interestingly the fashions are described.

Other Necessities

  • Ticket collectors: If the entrance is by invitation, the tickets need to be collected, or the entrance donation. Extra people are needed for this.
  • Door Prizes: These can be donated and arrangements made about how the prizes are to be won: perhaps by the number on the entrance ticket, or by paying an extra fee at the door. Other ways are by a 'lucky spot' so people in preset spots at a given time, or numbers hidden on the back of chairs, can provide the winners.
  • Refreshments: An area will need to be set aside for this and people are chosen for the various tasks, e.g., such as organizing the tea and coffee urns, pouring, etc., clearing the tables. Decisions need to be made as to whether the refreshments are part of the entrance donation, or if an extra charge is to be made. There will need to be another decision about how the food is to be provided—ordered in or 'bring a plate' (of cakes, finger food, etc.) by the members. Some group members may prefer to make sandwiches in the venue kitchen, and the ingredients for these will need to be arranged. Do please remember that there are strict rules in many places about refreshments, the required temperatures of hot and cold foods, and laws about cleanliness and hand-washing.
Knitted suit: 1930s

Knitted suit: 1930s

Dating Vintage Clothing

Many people will know who in their family wore the garment they have chosen to display and may be able to date it quite well. However, in former days, many people did not own as many clothes as they do today, and they often cared for them and wore them for years. Clothing and accessories that qualify as vintage fashions are those over twenty-five years old, while those over seventy-five years are regarded as antique clothes. Waists were usually small until around the late 1950s.

Briefly, an examination of the type of fabric, the way the garment was fastened and the length of the hems on ladies' dresses can help in dating.

  • Fabric: If the clothes are truly vintage or antique, most likely the fabrics will be either cotton, linen, silk or wool. There are some other exotics, such as camel hair and angora, but the first four are the probable fabrics. Synthetics have most commonly only been around since the mid-1950s when nylon dresses became popular. Nylon stockings came in around the 1940s, before that they were usually woollen in the winter and lisle, or exotically silk, in the summer.
  • Fasteners: Ladies' dresses were fastened with buttons, ties and clasps until the late 1930s. Early zippers were made of metal and until the 1950s, women's dress and skirt zips were usually down the centre of the back.
  • Hems: The hems of ladies' frocks were usually mid-calf in the 1930s and were not worn above the knees until the 1960s.
1889: Going Away Outfit - Woollen Travelling Jacket -  Embroidered in Silk

1889: Going Away Outfit - Woollen Travelling Jacket - Embroidered in Silk

On the Day

If you have chosen a supervisor for each section of an activity, it can be useful to have an extra person 'floating.' They can go from group to group and give extra help when needed.

  • Welcomer: It can be a good idea to have a cheerful welcomer at the door to direct people to where they need to go.
  • Entrance Fee: If you have enough people, it can be helpful to have two people at a table near the entrance. They can deal with payments and donations, and if you are having door prizes, make sure that everyone has a number.
  • Photographer: Probably families will have their own cameras at the ready, but it's good to choose someone who is good with a camera to take the official record of the event. You may want to charge for copies of the photos later.
  • Media Person: You may have chosen a member of the group to act as a liaison with the local media, such as the local newspaper. If this has been done, the liaison person will be responsible for meeting and assisting any media representatives who come.
  • Supervisor of models: As it is an amateur show with most of the participants displaying their own family garments, they will probably be responsible for them and may not need much assistance in changing. However, a Supervisor will be helpful to make sure that the models are ready to walk out at the right moment. There may need to be another assistant or two, to help hasten the dressing of the models, their make-up and hair as well.
  • Compere: The Compere needs to be chosen carefully as much of the success of the show will depend on this person, and the way the models are introduced. The event is supposed to be fun. The Compere will need a script with the order of the entrances of the models and descriptions of their garments and accessories. A copy of the script should also be given to the Supervisor of the models.
  • Supervisor of refreshments: There will be a group of people dealing with the food, the pouring of the tea and coffee, the taking of payments and possibly the serving at the tables. A Supervisor to oversee and deal with any problems that might arise can be a good idea. If it is a small show, there may be only a couple of people doing this together.
1890s Cotton Nightgown

1890s Cotton Nightgown

The Afterglow

There are quite a few things at the end of a show that need to be done. You will probably think of more than thanking, making announcements and cleaning the venue. If the work is planned carefully and shared, it should not be too onerous—and fun for all involved!

  • Thanking participants: Before the guests leave, it is always important to officially thank special visitors, the guests, the participants and the workers. You may want to give a bouquet or something similar to those who have done the most work and a small posy to each of the models. These will need to have been prepared or ordered beforehand.
  • Announcements: Any announcements should be made before closing the show. Information about the availability of photographs may be made, including any media persons who may have been present if you are able to announce when a report may be available. If the amount raised has been calculated, this can be announced as it adds to the feeling that the show has been a success and that all have contributed to that.
  • Cleaning up: Once the guests have left, the venue needs to be cleaned and things such as tables and chairs that have been moved replaced. Floral decorations may need to be taken home again. Rubbish should be taken care of and if there is any left-over food that should be dealt with, too. You may even want to auction it for a little more financial gain!
Models Together on the Catwalk

Models Together on the Catwalk

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Bronwen Scott-Branagan


Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on January 29, 2019:

Aurelio: Yes, it was great fun and as a fund-raiser it worked very well. I hope your efforts are a great success.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on January 28, 2019:

What a great idea and lots of fun too. I'll submit this to charities I'm involved with for their next fundraisers.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on October 21, 2016:

PegCole17: It was a great way to raise funds and we did very well with it. Somehow we do seem to accumulate clothes from yesteryear, and it's fun to share them. Yes, baby clothes were very different - sometimes I wonder how they ever learned to walk with so many encumbrances. Thank you for your lovely comments.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on October 17, 2016:

Your instructions for organizing a vintage fashion show were quite inclusive and seem like a great way to raise funds. Loved the photos of you in the vintage fashions. I remember outfits like the mother of the bride. Those long skirts were really fashionable along with the bow blouses. I have a few vintage clothes of my own and a few baby outfits that were my older brother's. Wow, they really dressed infants differently back then.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on August 11, 2016:

norlawrence:Thank you for your comments.

Norma Lawrence from California on August 10, 2016:

Some great ideas and information. Thanks

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on March 06, 2016:

Peggy W: Oh, yes! These things take a lot of organising, but they can be so much fun, too, and then all the effort we've put in seems so much more worthwhile, especially when it also turns out to make a good profit for the charity. Your ministry project must have taken a whole lot of work, but it also helps to get people working together, and that's so good, too.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 05, 2016:

That would certainly make for a fun fundraiser! I chaired a fundraiser for an assistance ministry years ago. It was just about a year long project with securing a myriad of donations; labeling them for silent and live auctions; arranging the dinner; securing the location and providing floral arrangements (which were also sold) among other things. It certainly takes many volunteers and good organization to attain good results. Love the photos in this hub! Looks like you had fun. Hope it was profitable for your charity.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on August 30, 2015:

Easy Exercise: Yes, it is fun, even for the organisers and participants as well as the audience. Thank you for your comments and the follow.

Kelly A Burnett from United States on August 29, 2015:

I love this idea! One of the best corporate events I ever attended was a managerial accounting luncheon and the entertainment was "fashion" in a fun manner. This is on my agenda! What fun! Thank you!

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on April 21, 2015:

ologsinquito: Thank you so much for your comments. I'm sorry I missed them before. It is popular - and fun!

csmiravite-blogs: Thank you! It's lots of fun and a good way of raising funds as a charity event, and as you write, it can be as small or as big as you want to make it.

Consolacion Miravite from Philippines on April 20, 2015:

What an interesting hub! We have vintage fund raising in the country but it is usually done by showcasing the works of known couturiers. Other fashion fund raising exhibitions (vintage and non-vintage) are done via a week-long run on exhibition halls with many participants. Your hub have shown that in can be done on a smaller and more of a family type affair. It seems more fun for everybody who are a part of it! Great hub!

ologsinquito from USA on March 02, 2015:

What a great idea. Vintage clothing is so popular now and so much fun.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on February 05, 2015:

Meggan Dunn: That's great! Hope it works and that you have fun - and raise lots for your charity.

Meggan Dunn from Winnie, TX on February 03, 2015:

This is an awesome idea! I will have to see what I can do to get my organization to go for it.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on February 02, 2015:

MDavisatTIERS: Thank you! Being a bit of a bower-bird can be a problem. I've just been trying to clean out some of my storage corners over the summer holidays, but most of the things have gone back. Perhaps we used the same fabric for the skirts and that would be the difference, as I made mine. Thank you for your comments.

Marilyn L Davis from Georgia on February 01, 2015:

Good evening, Blossom; wonderful idea and the photos added so much to the article. I come from a family of collectors and my two grand daughters like to raid my closet for vintage. I'm not sure, but I think I have your '70s mother of the bride skirt in my guest/vintage closet. Thank you for this. ~Marilyn

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on January 05, 2014:

Lady E: It is such a fun thing to do. I hope it works for you.

Elena from London, UK on January 04, 2014:

Very useful to know. Thanks.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on December 25, 2013:

Thank you! I hope you've had a wonderful Christmas, too. Yes, I've had a hub half-written for ages and tomorrow I have a granddaughter coming to stay, so I think it will still be a while before I finish!

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on December 24, 2013:

Hadn't seen you round, just wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on December 04, 2013:

The Stages Of ME: That was great! It take a little organizing but it's lots of fun. I'm so glad that the girls enjoyed it, especially as it was quite a wide age range. God bless you, too.

Kathy Henderson from Pa on December 03, 2013:

Dear Blossom

I recently had a clothing swap fashion show with my Sunday school girls ages 7-12th grade. It was a fun evening and it reminded me of this hub of yours. See it is true, reading something leaves a lasting imprint. God Bless

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on October 18, 2013:

Victoria Lynn: Vintage clothing is fun, even vintage patterns are popular right now. One of my granddaughters is always searching for 'new' ones.

SamitaJassi: It's fun to share. Thank you for visiting.

Samita Sharma from Chandigarh on October 18, 2013:

Thank you for sharing. Up and more and sharing

God bless, BlossomSB

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on October 17, 2013:

This is neat! I love the photos. Vintage clothing is really awesome.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on July 11, 2013:

stars439: Thank you. The old styles are lovely, although my grandmother would have had a fit with me parading in her nightgown! May God bless you and your family, too.

stars439 from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State. on July 10, 2013:

Nice hub. The dress styles are so lovely. I like the nightgown of the 1800's. And the 1889 going away outfit has class, and beauty. You have great taste, and style in clothes. GBY.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on May 05, 2013:

Jackie Lynnley: It was great fun and different. We were invited to other venues to show it as well. It's amazing what fashions some people have stored away. Thank you for your vote and sharing.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on May 04, 2013:

What a great idea, this would be fun and excellent way to interest everyone in something so different. It is one I would certainly go for. ^ and sharing.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on April 03, 2013:

Johnkadu123: Thank you. Some of the old fashions were really elegant and attractive and, as you write, some of today's fashions are unflattering and inelegant. Thank you for your comments.

Johnkadu123 from Toronto, Canada on April 02, 2013:

I am rather amazed at how good the girls look. It is an inspirational approach to fashion which is sadly missing today where everyone just wants to shock everyone. This is a great hub. Thanks

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on March 27, 2013:

If you do, I hope it goes well and that you - and all the participants - have lots of fun!

Agnes on March 26, 2013:

Maybe I will! :-)

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on March 25, 2013:

Monis Mas: So glad that you enjoyed it. Have I inspired you to try organizing one, too?

Agnes on March 24, 2013:

Blossomsb, this is absolutely awesome idea, and a fantastic hub. I enjoyed it very much.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on March 04, 2013:

jtrader: I agree. They are great fun and also help to engender a feeling of community.

jtrader on February 28, 2013:

I've been to a few shows like this. They usually are hilarious.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on February 21, 2013:

Lizam1: Yes, the retro fashions are really popular at the moment, and although it was some work to organize, it was fun and so popular that we were invited to other towns to repeat the show, so it was a good fundraiser.

MomsTreasureChest: It is fun! Thanks for reading and for your comments.

MomsTreasureChest on February 16, 2013:

What a fun idea! And a great way to pull out all those treasures from our closets. Great hub, thanks for sharing!

Lizam1 on February 15, 2013:

Given that retro fashions are now "in fashion" I think this is a great idea for a fundraiser and I like the idea of having young models model the older fashions to combine all age groups into the event. Thanks!

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on November 29, 2012:

Highland Terrier: Thank you for visiting. It really was fun as well as being a good fund-raiser.

Highland Terrier from Dublin, Ireland on November 28, 2012:

What a brilliant idea. Thanks.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on October 13, 2012:

Eiddwen: Thank you. I am having a great weekend. It's sunny and Spring is really here. Hope your weekend is lovely, too.

Eiddwen from Wales on October 13, 2012:

Brilliant Blossom and have a wonderful weekend.


Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on October 06, 2012:

shiningirisheyes: Thank you. Glad you enjoyed the ideas and the pics. Yes, I know that my grandson and his wife are very keen on 'retro' and vintage clothing. It really seems to be 'in.' I guess that makes most of my wardrobe really 'with it'!

Shining Irish Eyes from Upstate, New York on October 05, 2012:


This is a fantastic idea. Vintage interest is huge right now and doesn't appear to be decreasing any time soon. Wonderful suggestions and enjoyed the pics'.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on October 03, 2012:

teaches12345: It is fun. The photos don't show up all the pin-tucks and work on my Grandma's nightie. She would have been horrified at it being shown in public!

Dianna Mendez on October 02, 2012:

It looks like everyone enjoyed this fund raiser. I love the idea and you have made some suggestions that will help to make it easy and successful to run. Love the nighties! What fun!

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on October 02, 2012:

Vellur: Thank you, good friend. I'm glad you enjoyed reading it.

Lipnancy: Glad you enjoyed the photos. It really was a lot of fun. It made me give my hoard an airing and care for it, too.

Nancy Yager from Hamburg, New York on October 02, 2012:

You photos are absolutely wonderful. What a great idea!

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on October 02, 2012:

Enjoyed reading your hub. Great hub. You have given useful tips to organize a great fundraiser.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on October 01, 2012:

Faith Reaper: It is fun, although it also lets you know that I have far too much stuff hoarded away for sentimental reasons! I was going to post it in September, but had to buy a new printer and it took days to work out how to get it to 'talk' to my computer to add the photos. Bless you for your lovely comments.

Frank Atanacio: You're quite right! The one I organized was with a women's group - sorry for leaving out the men. It would be great fun for a men's group to arrange, too.

Marcia Ours: It was quite a lot of work to arrange, but so much fun the first time that we were invited to repeat it at several other venues as well.

cat on a soapbox: That was a lovely thing to do with some of your vintage pieces. Hope your suggestion for the fundraiser comes to fruition. It really works well!

Catherine Tally from Los Angeles on October 01, 2012:

Hello blossom:) Lovely hub! What a fun idea and great use of those favorite vintage pieces that have been in storage! I just donated a lot of things to the theater dept. of my daughter's school but will share your suggestion for a perfect fundraiser. Thank you!


Marcia Ours on October 01, 2012:

What a great and fun idea! I love it! Love the pictures, as well!!

Marcia Ours

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on October 01, 2012:

blossoms this does look like a great deal of fun and the the men could dress like they did in the 30's and 40's yeah? and make money for a great charity to boot yeah voted useful :) Frank

Faith Reaper from southern USA on October 01, 2012:

Morning Blossom,

What an outstanding hub dear one. I just love vintage fashion, and the fundraiser sounds like it would be so much fun. Really interesting and detailed. I loved all the beautiful photos. Voted Way Up In His Love, Faith Reaper