Style and savings come together in this column on thrifty shopping. Read on for timeless touches, aesthetic accessories and flirty finds.
My love for vintage started in sixth grade when I realized dressing like the so-called popular girls would never make me one of them. This is also about the time I learned Gwen Stefani had scoured thrift stores as a high school student wearing men’s pajama bottoms she had pegged herself.
After forcing my mother to take me to a thrift store, I had a religious experience. There were rows and rows of clothing, and each piece was different from the others – as different as I was from every girl in my class.
Since fondling fur coats and trying on men’s vests in that thrift store, I have loved vintage for its increased power of expression and for the stories woven into every fiber. Recently, I took a walk around Queen’s Village and found four incredible vintage emporiums just south of South Street.
My first stop was Wilbur Vintage at 716 S. Fourth St. Outside the store sat a $1 bin and rack of clothes, on which hung a My So-Called Life-style plaid jacket. Inside, I touched everything, longing for many of the items.
“I pretty much have a drag queen aesthetic with all of the sequins,” Wilbur said.
There certainly are a lot of sequined items in his store. But it was a short silver dress from the 1980s with long sleeves and a sheer back that grabbed my attention. There are also a great number of peacock feather hairpins and an incredible selection of Hermes-like scarves.
The next stop was Decades Vintage at 723 S. Fourth St. I fell in love several times while inside. First, there was the Easter-egg-purple clutch made of something like mother of pearl for $50. Then I saw a $30 silver serpent belt, a gorgeous $90 fur jacket from the 1940s and an Adriann Papell jacket from the 1980s for $20. And who could resist the selection of vintage slips?
But these all paled in comparison to what owner Lisa Miroslaw showed me next. It was the Holy Grail: a Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress, new with tags, for $125. I should have tried it on.
Miroslaw looks for “wearability and quality,” she said, and hits the mark with every piece – especially with the tan leather, 1970s Louis Feraud handbag I scored for $25.
New-old handbag in tow, I headed to my third stop: Astro Vintage, owned by Karin Elizabeth Tyburczy and located at 720 S. Fifth St. Tyburczy’s inventory ranges from women’s clothing and accessories to men’s to household items.
A 1950s powder-blue-and-white ruffled prom dress for $200 caught my eye right away. Also noteworthy were the collection of vintage dress patterns, a pair of white leather Laredo ankle-cowboy boots, a $36 Toni Todd red-and-blue embroidered dress and a Dalila three-in-one clutch in orange with a pink plastic frame for $28.
One of Tyburczy’s favorite pieces sold just two weeks ago. It was a 1940s all-silk, wasp-waisted dress. It looked like it was meant for the girl who bought it, Tyburczy said.
The last stop of the day was Vintage Connection over at 701 S. Ninth St.
Owner Heather Waity curates vintage armed with Melody Fortier’s The Little Guide to Vintage Shopping, which she sells in the store, and two keen eyes. Fortier’s book, Waity said, is a great resource for anyone interested in vintage fashion. I took Waity’s word for it and bought the book.
As for vintage offerings, Vintage Connection’s got a beautiful selection. Standouts include: a $35 red Liz Claiborne jacket with black cord appliqués, brown leather pants and vintage Levi’s jeans jacket (both $40), a blue knit Mademoiselle sweater vest for $25 and a white leather Mardane clutch (also $40).
Rosella LaFevre can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.