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Vintage Beyond the Musty Odor

posted by LIM College staff Staff Profiles Desktops & Documents lola.rephann My Documents website BLOGS Hubspot Blogs Short Takes DanaRudnickWhen I think vintage, I think glamour. Vintage shops always spark my interest. I love the idea of digging for a one-of-a-kind piece in an environment filled with unique and intriguing items.

Once I step into a Manhattan vintage shop though, my thoughts about vintage glamour snap back to reality; most of the items sold at these stores are pure junk with a hefty price tag attached, and a smell reminiscent of Grandma’s mothball-filled closet. That smell can overpower the store, and thus, the fabrics.

After some serious vintage shop scouting, I’ve narrowed my digging time down by focusing on the stores that carry the least rubbish. So, if curiosity has gotten the best of you, and your bank account tells you that you can’t continue to shop on Fifth Ave., or you want to have original pieces and add eclectic “stuff” to your collection, check out these places.

After all, everyone knows that one girl’s  junk is another’s treasure.

Andy’s Chee-Pees
37 St. Mark’s Pl. (between 1st & 2nd Aves.)
The owner is a little loopy, but the clothing is spectacular. It’s not the cheapest vintage store, or dare I say not too "chee-p" by any means. They have racks of rad vintage t- shirts, perfect for the casual cats out there, and offer unique bottle cap jewelry. If you walk in, you’ll walk out feeling brand new in your worn shreds. Beware though, because you just might start to enjoy the musty scent accompanying the clothes.

Atomic Passion
430 E. 9th St. (between 1st Ave. & Ave. A)
The best thing about this place is the large shoe selection, but be sure to dig for reasonably priced Betsey Johnson dresses too. There are myriad goodies just waiting to be found—in good condition—and some merchandise dates back to the 19th Century.

Cheap Jack’s Vintage Clothing
303 5th Ave. (at 31st St.)
Cheap Jack’s is a great consignment shop because it's huge and has everything from sparkly vests to wingtip shoes. The staff are not overly friendly, nor are the prices rock bottom, but let’s just say Jack has an eye for some great jackets, dresses, and hats.

Chelsea Girl Vintage Clothing
63 Thompson St. (between Broome & Spring Sts.)
This SoHo secret offers wild animal print clothing and alluring alligator purses. More conservative pieces (which are not my taste) like cashmere sweaters can be found, and designer garments await discovery. Despite boatloads of clothing, purses are Chelsea’s true specialty.

Circa Now
238 E. 6th St. (between 2nd & 3rd Aves.)
Not only are the gals who work at the store super cute and friendly, but the place is decked out with wonderful little trinkets everywhere. They have one-of-a kind-looks and it’s a great spot to score denim a little past its prime.

Eye Candy
329 Lafayette St. (between Bleecker & Houston Sts.)
This cluttered space is filled with eccentric and glitzy pieces reminiscent of days from the Victorian era to the funky 1980’s. The glass case crammed with eye-candy  immediately draws interest, but there is much more than meets the eye tucked away in this little gem.

Fab 208 Retail
75 East 7th St. (between 1st and 2nd Aves.)
Every week this shop has new merchandise. Even if studded gloves and shimmery hats are out of your comfort zone, Fab 208 has something for everyone. Their biggest distinction is carrying a wide variety of sizes to fit all sorts of people and they stock many elegant and versatile items.

Local Clothing
328 E. 9th St. (between 1st and 2nd Aves.)
Most vintage shops include the word “cheap” in their store name, even when they’re far from it.  But this shop delivers on the local promise of the name and also includes some “world clothing” if you will.  They have incredible leather belts and boots, along with some brilliantly bright patterned clothing.  Much of the apparel has an inspiring “ethnic” feel, such as Middle Eastern and African color schemes, but pair that off with their Boho jewelry and the look is harmonious. The store is definitely worth a look, but don’t expect to find wacky over-the-top eccentric clothing because the vibe is more down to earth.

Not sure if you want to make the trek? Check out these links first and decide for yourself. 

-- Dana Rudnick

Further Reading:

New York Magazine's regular spotlight on shopping

The site for Chelsea Girl 

Eye Candy online 

Topics: fashion trends