Fashion and environment mesh on the vintage clothing rack.
Oh, Sarah Jessica Parker. It is pretty safe to say that she has influenced most major female shopping trends in the last decade through the behemoth of a marketing vehicle known as Sex and the City. The minute she donned that enviable tan, vintage Halston wrapdress and oversized shades in season three while attempting to go for the whole Jackie-O look because she was dating a politician, second-hand stores exploded as the new hot spots to shop. Suddenly, second-hand clothing was not just something that you inherited when your older brothers and sisters grew out of it, but a growing fashion trend of its own right. And with so many pros to buying vintage clothing, it seems like this trend will be here to stay.
One of the best things about buying used clothing is that fashion is cyclical, especially in the last decade. It seems that every look has been reborn, slightly altered, then reborn again; from Studio 54-esque jumpsuits and disco dresses, to the leggings and neons of the ’80s, to even (gasp!) the flannel shirts of early ’90s grunge. But the most important aspect is not the “in vogue” state of vintage apparel. It is the environmental factor. The commercial recycling company U’SAgain recently found that the average American purchases around 70 pounds of textiles every year, and about 85 percent of that ends up in landfills. That’s a whole lotta garbage, and plenty of good fashion opportunities thrown out of the window. Not to mention, many of the fabrics used in clothing take hundreds of years to break down. By reusing clothing, we are keeping them out of the landfill, but also lessening the need for newer clothing which in turn makes for less pollutants caused by the factories that make them.
Places like Euphoria have been offering up great vintage styles since 1996, with quite the selection. From houndstooth coats and grandiose hats to bowling shirts and cowboy boots, they not only sell amazing vintage pieces, they also create new and unique looks by taking vintage pieces and restyling them. They like to call it “re-retail.” “Re-retail is the idea of taking something old and either repurposing it or finding new value in it,” says owner Tausha Lell. Lell created a group with two other talented women who think green, Suzanne Chaillot of Hidden Women of the Sea jewelry and Deborah Elberson, owner of the vintage boutique Flip Flop. Called The Common Thread 3, the group designs clothing, accessories and furniture by reusing items and turning them into something swoon worthy.
Elberson boasts a nice collection of vintage herself. Her store Flip-Flop, located in Jefferson Street Market, has a hefty collection of things like pill box hats, women’s suits that look like they were plucked right out of Mad Men, ties, coats and dresses. There is also an ample amount of vintage night gowns, which have recently become all the rage.
Other stores carry newer and higher ended used items.The Clothing Loft has some fantastic finds such as Fendi and Louis Vuitton purses, Trina Turk and ABS Allen Schwartz dresses, and Kate Spade heels. Similar places, like Upscale Resale, even have used wedding dresses to sell, for the thrifty bride on a budget.
Vintage shopping truly has something for everyone. Even the most haughty of Park Avenue princesses have been known to go bargain hunting for great vintage pieces to pair with their Marc Jacobs bags and Christian Louboutin shoes. And on the other side of the spectrum, broke college kids have been longtime fans of the eclectic style of a great thrift store find, often perusing Goodwill and Salvation Army stores to find their next great ensemble. “Vintage clothes are fun, and the quality is great because they are usually made well, and no one else will have it which is always a plus,” says Lell.