I believe some of the most stylish people are those who understand how to work a vintage piece. In order to get vintage right, you really need to know what you are doing, because often a vintage garment is only as good as how you wear it. That is, sporting vintage must necessarily come with a knowing attitude and a tongue-in-cheek presentation. In case you could not tell, personally I am a huge fan of the vintage look. I appreciate the notion of clothes with a history and a story behind them, and I also love when pieces look worn and lived-in. For those of you who are also really into the concept of vintage, here I have compiled an overview of some of my favorite vintage spots and my best tips for shopping vintage.
Over spring break I was in California, where I hit the beach, went to In-n-Out more times than I would like to admit and, best of all, made a trip to Los Angeles to sample its renowned vintage shopping. If you are ever in the LA area, Melrose Avenue is the place to go if you are looking for some great vintage finds. My top recommendation is a store called American Vintage. This store feels like a big, old closet: scuffed hardwood floors and walls lined with racks and racks of eclectic, beautiful, used garments. The best thing about American Vintage, in my opinion, is its fantastic tee shirt collection (to me, vintage is at its best in the form of a simple tee). You can find band and concert tees, graphic tees, and even old-school jerseys. A tip to all the ladies: check out the boys’ section. The way I see it, shirts made for girls are never quite as cool when it comes to vintage; you want a rough-around-the-edges feel that is not necessarily feminine. My experience with American Vintage was awesome, to say the least; I ended up with three sweet retro band tees and a pair of tall, brown leather boots beaten to perfection.
Manhattan also has an amazing selection when it comes to vintage. Whenever people ask me for advice on this front, I immediately direct them to Screaming Mimi’s, located downtown on Lafayette Street. Screaming Mimi’s is a smaller, more intimate boutique. It does offer a nice sampling of t-shirts, but its real strength lies in its more formal attire. It has a wonderful selection of dresses, skirts, slacks and blouses, a good deal of which are designer or brand name pieces for a relatively cheap price (that is, considering the original retail value). And Mimi’s will even let you know the decade from which the piece hails, which is always interesting. If you cannot make it down to SoHo anytime soon but are dying to check out Screaming Mimi’s, hit up its website. You can buy online, which is somewhat rare for vintage shops. The online selection is rather small, but still quite good.
If online shopping is, in general, simply more your cup of tea, never fear, because there are still great vintage options out there for you too. I would like to turn your attentions to www.fasinfrankvintage. com. F as in Frank is the single most extensive online vintage shopping experience I have ever encountered in all my years of searching. It specializes in hats, tee shirts, sweatshirts, jackets and windbreakers, so generally sportswear. The company is based in Vancouver, British Columbia, but shipping anywhere in the U.S. and Canada is cheap.
Finally, I also think that the consignment/thrift shop Buffalo Exchange is worth mentioning. It is not a vintage store, per se. In fact, the majority of merchandise was recently or is currently available in retail stores; some of it is in totally new, mint condition. However, all of it is second-hand. That is, Buffalo Exchange locally buys, sells and trades clothing and accessories. So, people bring in their old, gently used favorites, or that piece that has been sitting unworn in the closet for a year and Buffalo Exchange pays them or trades with them to take it off their hands and put it on the shelves. At Buffalo Exchange, you could get really get lucky; I have spotted some designer pieces in really great condition for a shockingly cheap price. The store has locations across the country, with shops in both Manhattan and LA.
So, if you are not usually one to buy vintage, give it a try. Vintage shopping is a whole different animal, and also a whole lot of fun.