Monday, November 11, 2013

I don't get out much, but when I do, I buy old clothes.

In January of this year I decided to stop buying new clothes (aside from stuff like underthings and foundation layers), because it's better for the environment and it also affords me a lot of creativity. Besides, nothing beats the feeling of finding a piece that fits perfectly and imagining the story of the person who first loved it.

Back home, one of my favorite afternoon adventures would be to drive down the coast to Encinitas, get a cup of tea and a croissant at the Pannikin, and head over to Flashbacks for some treasure hunting. The Encinitas Flashbacks was always a great place to find used Anthropologie and Free People stuff, but the Flashbacks in Hillcrest was my favorite. It's a few doors down from a fabulous used books store, and right across the street from a Buffalo Exchange. Hillcrest was a day-off adventure, because of traffic, mostly, but also because I hate to be in a hurry when thrift shopping. Some of my favorite Flashbacks finds are my pale yellow Betsey Johnson prom dress, a mink collar, a navy blue Gunne Sax skirt, and an olive green Anthropologie jacket that I scored for $38.

Since moving to Oregon, I've found some really fantastic vintage pieces, mainly while thrifting in Portland. Buffalo Exchange, House of Vintage, and Goodwill are always good, but I've yet to venture to "The Bins," a Goodwill outlet where clothes are sold by the pound... I have a friend who is a seasoned veteran of bin shopping, and one of these days, when our days off are synced, it's going to happen. (More on Portland another time... I need to explore it better.)

I've not been impressed by much of the "fashion" I see around Corvallis, but there's one shop downtown that I adore for vintage. Cosmic Chameleon has a super eclectic blend of old and new. I found an Anthropologie sweater there for $22, a 1920's inspired mauve blouse with gold sequins, along with some pretty Bakelite bangles. Most recently, I found a champagne colored 1950s cocktail dress that I need to get tailored a bit before I wear it around, but the owner saw how much I adored it and lowered the price for me, which was really lovely of her. It's a tiny shop that's packed to the brim in a wonderfully overwhelming way. I've never rummaged through an attic of old clothes trunks and costumes, but that's what it feels like to shop there. You could go through every rack over and over and find something new each time. It's like the Universe left you a treasure and you just have to hunt it down.

While I was in Baton Rouge in September, I found the most wonderful vintage shop, Time Warp. Erica (my co-worker who was on the trip with me) had never been vintage shopping before and this was THE perfect place to take her. She loved it! She bought a great leather belt with some man's name branded into it. They had a ton of men's clothes, which were all at the front end of the store. Usually resale shops have a pathetic range of menswear, and I was so bummed that Declan wasn't with me to see the collection of Pendleton shirts they had. (I bought him one, though, don't worry.) But the women's clothes... good grief. You know when there are so many beautiful things and you can't breathe because it doesn't feel real? Yeah. Loads of flawless 1950's formals for the mini-waisted busty women of yesteryear, piles of crinoline petticoats, and really reasonably priced fur outerwear. They had a whole rack of Gunne Sax, which was awesome. I ended up with a black maxi sundress accented with ivory crocheted lace. It's magnificent. I also bought a 50's day dress- pinstripes of dark olive, burgundy, and brown. Everything there was in really great shape, considering it's age. If I ever find myself in the south again, I'll be heading back to Time Warp for sure.

We visited Austin, Texas last spring and I had some luck there as well. The boys (Declan, Chris, and Mark) gave me 15 minutes in Buffalo Exchange. Not enough time to even browse the whole store. However, I stuck to the dress racks and found a Marc Jacobs dress for just $34 and an Urban Outfitters dress for $17. I can only imagine how many other wonderful things were in there. After being disappointed with the prices of things on South Congress Street, I checked online for other vintage stores and happened upon a few that were all close together AND near a coffee shop and left-wing bookstore to keep everyone entertained. (I really am grateful for these guys... they're so patient with me.) The shops on North Loop were incredible! I bought a 1970s/80s snowflake (I think?) pullover sweater at Blue Velvet, browsed the antique mall, which was wonderfully cluttered and colorful, and then ended up at Ermine Vintage, where I found a homemade (from fruit-themed upholstery fabric) dress that fits like it was made for my exact body. It's as though someone took my measurements, went back in time, sewed this dress, and then it waited for me to to show up and buy it. So I bought it. Also a pair of amethyst earrings. I think my total was under $40. Yay Texas.

One of Declan's sisters lives in Atlanta, and I'd love to go visit her and check out some vintage and thrift stores in that part of the country. (She has also talked up her local farmers market, so I kind of need to check that out too!) Even though we have loads of family in Arizona, I've never had a chance to really check out any vintage stores in the Phoenix area. Next time, though, I'll make a point of it, and I'll bring Declan's other sister with me.

I'll add photos of some of my favorite treasures when the sun is cooperating. Our house is pretty dark these days. So different from California!