The Valet Stand
I have wanted one of these things for years, to keep my clothes organised, instead of hanging them on hooks or draping them over the backs of chairs. Ever seen one? It’s called a clothes valet, or a valet stand…
Valet stands were once common in households of the well-to-do, typically, the Middle Class and upwards, who could afford nicer clothes, and could spend the money required for a stand to keep them neat and tidy.
Such stands were common from the 1800s up to the mid-20th century. When men’s daily fashion steered away from trousers, jackets, suits, sport-coats and blazers in the decades after the Second World War, valet stands became less and less useful, and eventually people stopped buying them, and making them. But they are handy pieces of kit for those who still tend to dress in a more conservative or traditional, vintage style.
Valet stands can range from the incredibly simple, to the amazingly elaborate. A really simple stand might just have a coat-hanger on top of a pair of legs with three connector-bars at the base to serve as a coat and shoe-stand. A really elaborate valet-stand can come with a coat-hanger, trouser-bar, shoe-rests, compartmentalised jewellery-caddy, tie-bar, hat-stand…even a chair with built-in nick-nack drawer!
A stand like this would’ve been typical of the style popular from the last quarter of the 1800s up to the postwar period, up to around the 1960s, when men’s fashion took a serious turn. I bought the stand featured in these photographs, today, at an antiques fair, for $5.00!
The clothes valet was standing outside one of the tent-stalls at the antiques fair, with some sort of advertising poster or sign clipped onto it, and it was obviously being used as a sandwich-board or an advertising-stand. And initially, I didn’t think it was for sale. But when I got right up close to it, I noticed a white price-tag hanging from it, which said: “$5.00″.
And my heart just went pitty-patter. I tracked down the stallholder and inquired about this amazing and under-appreciated piece of woodwork standing, unloved and ignored, outside her tent. She said that the price was indeed correct. $5.00. Once she’d removed the clips and the poster, I was welcome to take it, she said. So I coughed up a fiver and walked off with the stand.
The best five bucks I’ve ever spent. You’ll never find one of this vintage, of this style, in this condition, for that kind of money, not even if you tried. This was a real vintage score .
The Features of the Stand
So, let’s show you around the stand, such as it is…
Up the top here, we have the tie-bar, then below it, the shoulder-width coat-hanger. Underneath that is the recessed tray for things like watches, cufflinks, collar-bars, tie-bars and other such masculine jewellery.
Beneath the jewellery-tray is the trouser-bar, for hanging your trousers on. And right at the bottom is the…
You simply can’t find beautiful vintage household pieces like this anymore, and I consider myself very lucky to have this, for such a super-low price. It’s in perfect condition, barring a few dings and scratches. Apart from that, it looks almost brand-new.
A valet-stand made today, brand-new out of the workshop, would probably cost you hundreds of dollars, even for a simple bog-standard one. A mid-range stand, looking something like this…I don’t even want to guess! Even antique ones aren’t cheap. I got this for a song, and I couldn’t be happier.
In retrospect, the song should probably be: “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails“. Hahaha!!
It’s absolutely beautiful, it’s been something I’ve chased after for at least five years, and I finally have one, for possibly the lowest price that one of these has ever sold for, barring one that was given away for free. And I don’t ever see something like that happening!
Clothes Valets Today
You can still buy clothes valets today. You can order them online and such. But nothing beats one that was built back in the days when they were an essential for any well-dressed man about town, and might’ve been found in almost any man’s bedroom. The quality, the style and the sturdiness comes as standard, and you can be assured that whoever used this thing before you was just as snappy a dresser as you are.