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The answer is to be found at Kerry Taylor Auctions (25/20% buyer’s premium), the south London house specialising in fashion, clothing and accessories since 2003.

The latest sale, one of the two top-end Passion for Fashion sales among the five auctions held each year, continued the run with a £750,000 total from 86% of the 426 lots which got away to private collectors and museums across the world.

Most major names in 20th century haute couture were represented and were bought by the relatively small – but competitive – group of women who buy to wear perhaps once before putting their purchases into their collections.

Historical appeal

The historical clothing, which makes the highest prices, tends to go to well-funded overseas museums, as was the case with the two top-sellers on November 20.

Leading the day was the rare c.1610-25 velvet jerkin illustrated above.

With its silk and gold thread, silver-gilt buttons and silk-lined collar, the jerkin, probably made in Italy, was a luxury version of a garment worn to protect the doublet worn below or, simply, for extra warmth. It sold bang on its top estimate at £60,000.

Your shoe Sizergh

Another top-seller was a pair of silver lace and ivory satin lady’s shoes, among a number of items found by Taylor in the attics of Sizergh Castle, Cumbria, which contributed in all about £100,000 to the day’s total at Bermondsey.

“People tend to overlook clothes when valuing the contents of their homes,” said Taylor. “The pictures and artworks, the silver and the furniture that won’t sell they know about.

“But up in the attics there may be a wealth of clothes gathering dust which would have been extremely expensive to buy new two or three centuries ago and are worth a great deal of money today.”

The c.1720-30 shoes had some slight wear and soiling but left a £4000-6000 estimate behind to sell at £26,000.

A different set of bidders is attracted by clothing associated with the famous, of whom the late Diana, Princess of Wales, is league leader.

Best-seller from the princess’ wardrobe was the silk ensemble of loose jacket pleated skirt and cummerbund tie sash made for her 1983 visit to Adelaide by Arabella Pollen. Estimated at £5000-8000, it sold at £36,000.