In ‘Retrospect,’ vintage is back

When people hear the word “vintage,” they either associate it with classic, one-of-a-kind finds or with used junk. But today, the world of secondhand shopping isn’t so black and white. Philadelphia has a wide selection of vintage stores that sell top fashions.

Older favorites are resurfacing along with rare finds that can make or break an outfit. At Retrospect, a vintage clothing store located at 534 South St., the occasional treasure can be found among the trash.

Some of the most abundant items are jeans – mainly GAP and Levis – which start at $14. Since tapered legs are back in style, it’s easy to achieve the trend by searching stores like Retrospect. Many pieces, like the dresses and fur coats, could be used for costume.

Their designer rack, which screams 1985, can be worn for fashion or fun. A large wall of shoes in the back of the store, including an array of cowboy boots, could be just the area to find the finishing touch for an outfit.

Another interesting consignment shop is Time Zone, which is across the street from Retrospect at 535 South St. This is an entirely different world of vintage.

The most notable items in Time Zone are footwear, ranging in price from $20 to $120.

“The most popular items in here [are] our boots – mainly Dr. Martin’s,” said store manager Tom Stefano. “Boots are pretty much our staple item.”

A wide selection of belts, jewelry and religious pieces line the store’s walls and fill its glass cases. The first floor also has women’s fashions such as Rock & Republic jeans for $79 and embellished tanks for $20.

Men’s fashions such as Lacoste shirts start at $30 and track jackets are priced at $50.In contrast, the second floor is loaded with items from leather jackets to wedding dresses and everything in between. Time Zone is filled with an evenly distributed mixture of new and used pieces ranging from $1 for a tie and $150 for a pair of men’s loafers.

Possibly the most unique of all the vintage
stores is Bella Boutique located at 527 S. 4th St. Bella has designer vintage – Chanel, Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton. You can snag that bag you’ve wanted for years at a fraction of the price. Chanel bags start at $60 and Gucci bags retailed at $780 can be found for $170.

“The item we sell the most is definitely the designer bags – especially the Louis,” said Jen Dennis, a store associate.

The front case is also filled with amazing jewelry starting at $20 and ranging to about $100. Bella also has a pretty extensive designer shoe collection, from signature Manolo Blahniks to Dior sandals.

The shoes range in condition, some less worn than others, and the clothes aren’t as great as the accessories. But with names like Seven, Juicy Couture and Burberry, the racks in the back are worth a glance.

“I buy a lot of tops here. I just bought a vintage Gucci that I’m in love with and we also just got in a lot of L.A.M.B., Gwen Stefani’s line,” Dennis said.

Although some of the items are dated, keep an open mind. You might just find your mom’s knee-high go-go boots from the ’60s.

Giavanna Ippolito and Caitlin Murphy can be reached at

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