How Much is a Gunne Sax Dress Worth? A Collector‘s Guide

If you‘re a fan of vintage fashion, you‘ve likely heard of Gunne Sax dresses. These iconic dresses from the 1960s through the 1990s capture the charm and romance of bygone eras with their Victorian and Renaissance-inspired designs. Many featured lace trim, ribbon sashes, fitted bodices and flowing skirts for an elegant, feminine look.

Gunne Sax dresses have seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years, fueled by the cottagecore aesthetic movement that embraces vintage, rural-inspired clothing. As new generations discover the timeless appeal of Gunne Sax dresses, many are wondering – what are these vintage gems worth today? Whether you‘re looking to sell a precious Gunne Sax from your own collection or simply want to learn more as a fashion history buff, here‘s what you need to know about Gunne Sax dress values.

The History of Gunne Sax

To understand what makes certain Gunne Sax dresses so valuable to collectors, it helps to know a bit about the brand‘s history. Gunne Sax was founded in San Francisco in 1967 by childhood friends Carol Miller and Elle Bailey. The pair started out making "granny dresses" inspired by the calico prints and prairie designs of the late 1800s and early 1900s.

In 1969, Gunne Sax partnered with designer Jessica McClintock, who would go on to become the brand‘s driving creative force. Under McClintock‘s direction, Gunne Sax dresses evolved to feature Victorian and Edwardian elements like lace trim, velvet ribbons, leg-of-mutton sleeves, and cinched waists.

Throughout the 1970s and 80s, Gunne Sax exploded in popularity. The romantic, ultra-feminine dresses became mainstays for proms, weddings, and other special occasions. Many young women coveted Gunne Sax dresses for their ability to make the wearer feel like a princess or character from a fairy tale.

The Gunne Sax brand was eventually retired in 2013 when Jessica McClintock shuttered her design house. However, the magic and nostalgia of Gunne Sax designs lives on among vintage fashion devotees. Original Gunne Sax dresses are prized collectibles today, with certain rare pieces commanding hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Factors That Affect Gunne Sax Dress Values

So what determines a Gunne Sax dress‘s value to collectors? As with any vintage garment, several key factors influence how much a particular Gunne Sax dress is worth:

Age

In general, the older a Gunne Sax dress is, the more valuable it will be to collectors. Dresses from the brand‘s earliest years in the late 1960s and early 1970s tend to be the most sought after and command the highest prices. Gunne Sax hit its peak of popularity in the 1970s and 80s, so there are many more dresses from these decades in circulation. Dresses from the 1990s are considered "newer" and less rare among collectors.

Label

Gunne Sax went through several different label designs over the decades. The earliest 1969 dresses featured a black label with the Gunne Sax logo in script lettering. Dresses with this original black label are highly prized by collectors.

In the early 1970s, Gunne Sax switched to a label featuring a trio of red hearts alongside the brand name. This "hearts label" is also very popular with collectors and can mark a dress as being from Gunne Sax‘s most iconic era.

Condition

As with any vintage garment, condition has a huge impact on value for Gunne Sax dresses. Most collectors are looking for dresses in excellent condition, with no staining, holes, tears or other damage. Gunne Sax dresses were often made from delicate fabrics like lace and lightweight cotton, so finding one that has survived 40 or 50 years in pristine shape can be a challenge.

Minor imperfections may be overlooked if a dress is particularly old or rare. But in general, Gunne Sax dresses in the best condition will fetch the highest prices. Garments that look nearly new are described as being in "mint" condition.

Style and Design

Gunne Sax produced a vast array of dress designs over the decades, from simple Renaissance fair-inspired styles to elaborate prom gowns with all-over lace and beading. Some designs are more popular and sought-after than others.

Dresses that exemplify Gunne Sax‘s signature "prairie revival" look tend to be very popular with collectors. These dresses often feature calico or floral prints, ruffles, lace trim, and an A-line or gently flared skirt. Dresses with a fitted bodice, defined waist, and sleeves are also in demand.

Collectors also gravitate toward Gunne Sax designs with ultra-romantic details like ribbon sashes, mutton sleeves, or sheer overdresses. Solid-colored dresses in black, burgundy, and navy have a classic, sophisticated appeal. Dresses made from luxe fabrics like velvet or silk are also coveted.

How Much Do Gunne Sax Dresses Typically Cost?

With all these factors in mind, let‘s take a look at what you can expect to pay (or earn) for a Gunne Sax dress in today‘s market:

For a more common Gunne Sax dress from the 1980s or 90s in good condition, prices typically range from $50 to $150. Simpler styles like sundresses, prairie skirts and pinafores fall on the lower end of this price range, while more elaborate or formal designs like lacy prom dresses and wedding gowns land on the higher end.

Gunne Sax dresses from the 1970s are considered more collectible and tend to command higher prices, usually starting around $100 for a plain jersey or cotton dress in good shape. Dresses with the brand‘s signature calico prints, lace trims, and Victorian-inspired details are often priced in the $150-$300 range.

At the top end of the market, rare Gunne Sax dresses from the earliest years of the late 60s and early 70s have sold for upwards of $500-$1000 in mint condition. Dresses with the original 1969 black label or early 70s hearts label are the most valuable. Velvet dresses, formal gowns, and iconic designs from the peak of the "prairie revival" craze are also strong contenders for four-figure price tags.

Tips for Selling a Gunne Sax Dress

Think you might have a valuable Gunne Sax in your closet? Here‘s how to go about determining its value and finding a buyer:

First, carefully examine the garment for any tags or labels indicating its age and authenticity as a genuine Gunne Sax piece. You‘ll also want to honestly assess the dress‘s condition, noting any flaws or imperfections alongside its best features.

Next, head to online marketplaces like Etsy and eBay to research the going rate for similar Gunne Sax dresses. Use the "sold" filter to see actual transaction prices versus just listing prices. You can also consult vintage fashion forums and Facebook groups for Gunne Sax devotees to solicit opinions on your dress‘s value.

If your Gunne Sax is a particularly rare or high-end piece, it may be worth having it evaluated by a professional vintage clothing appraiser. They can give you an expert opinion on the dress‘s value and also provide a formal appraisal for insurance purposes.

When you‘re ready to list your Gunne Sax dress for sale, eBay and Etsy are popular platforms that make it easy to connect with buyers all over the world. Some sellers prefer to list their Gunne Sax dresses as auctions and let the market determine the final price. Others prefer to set a fixed price based on their research into comparable items.

Finding Gunne Sax Dresses to Buy

In love with the romantic look of vintage Gunne Sax dresses? There are still plenty of opportunities to find these coveted dresses out in the wild if you know where to look!

Your local thrift stores, consignment shops, flea markets and estate sales can be treasure troves for Gunne Sax finds. The trick is to go often and dig through the racks with a keen eye. Look for the tell-tale signs of a Gunne Sax dress like Victorian detailing, calico prints, and lace accents.

Online, eBay and Etsy are go-to sources for Gunne Sax collectors in search of specific pieces. Expect to pay a bit of a premium for dresses in the best condition. The occasional amazing deal does pop up, so it can pay to stalk your favorite keyword searches.

Poshmark, Depop, and other social shopping apps are also worth a look, especially if you‘re open to Gunne Sax styles from the 80s and 90s. Many sellers on these platforms are young fashionistas just looking to clean out their closets, not necessarily vintage experts with an eye for valuable collector‘s pieces.

And don‘t forget the power of joining your local Buy Nothing group or other freecycling communities. You never know when someone might be gifting a gorgeous Gunne Sax dress that no longer fits them. One person‘s outdated bridesmaid dress could be your vintage collector‘s holy grail!

With Gunne Sax dresses surging in popularity again thanks to the cottagecore trend, there‘s never been a better time to start hunting for these precious pieces of fashion history. Whether you‘re buying or selling, this guide should help you navigate the ins and outs of Gunne Sax dress values. Happy collecting!

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