The Value of Vintage

By Alyssa Davis

Ever wonder what made you purchase, on the spot, those $385 Gucci stilettos you wore one time – or, for that matter, that Balenciaga handbag that was totally out of your price range? It is hard to figure out why designer names are so tempting or why shopping can be addicting, but there are some solutions that can allow you to buy your winter must-haves without guilt. Vintage and secondhand stores are no strangers to society, but they are becoming more and more popular as fashion prices become more demanding.

Walking down Newbury Street in Boston, Massachusetts, may make you dream of Burberry and Chanel, but buried in the depths of overpriced boutiques lie two very respectable secondhand stores. One, which cleverly calls itself The Closet, sells many designer brands for almost less than half the retail price. Here, they sell both men’s and women’s apparel and are widely known for their assortment of exquisite shoes. They sell brand names from Gucci to Prada. However, don’t be discouraged; they also sell reasonably priced brands such as Banana Republic (shirts beginning at $14) and the occasional H&M.

The other secondhand store located on Newbury Street is known as Second Time Around. While it is similar to The Closet and also sells a variety of designer brands, this store carries a great number of handbags and purses that bear the name of such brands as Coach and Louis Vuitton. While not all of these items are by true designers, the staff is helpful and informative in telling you which are faux and which are the real thing.

Also in Boston is Howie Mack, another great place to find secondhand designer clothes. It’s located on Commonwealth Avenue, and most of its merchandise originates from the wardrobes of college students attending Boston University. It’s rather difficult to find a specific garment, but if you come in with an open mind and look deep enough, you might snag an adorable $3 Express shirt or $7 belt from the Gap. Howie Mack, like many other thrift stores, also encourages customers to bring in some of their own used clothing and accessories; in return, you might end up taking home a hefty little check.

If you’re looking for true vintage finds that date back farther than a few seasons, Café Society is the place for you. The store carries flapper dresses that date back to the roaring twenties, as well as bell bottoms and hip huggers from the disco glam era of the ‘70s. Unlike many of their overpriced competitors, Café Society has reasonable prices, especially on their dresses, which are usually marked below fifty dollars.

Believe it or not, a lot of vintage clothing and many accessories are also sold through high quality websites, which can be a lifesaver if you detest digging through bargain bins and shuffling through sale racks to find that diamond in the rough.  I strongly recommend browsing such sites as adorevintage.com and vivalavintage.com.  Although some items may be a tad pricey, they are sure to be one of a kind.

Vintage has also been making its way recently towards Hollywood, and celebrities have been eating up the idea. Given that celebrities love to be one of the first and few to wear a particular style, it’s no wonder they will jump at the chance to wear an article that is one of a kind. The more unique and rare an item is, the more flattering it may be to a consumer. Celebrities who have been seen wearing vintage finds are Mary-Kate Olsen, Julia Roberts, Nicole Richie, and Kate Moss.  Sharon Stone and Drew Barrymore are also known to have been collecting vintage clothing over the years. 

Besides providing stylish but inexpensive merchandise, vintage stores have tons of other benefits. Because fashion constantly repeats itself, vintage never goes out of style. A certain garment is likely to regain popularity over the years. As perfect examples of this evolution, baby doll shapes and geometric patterned dresses originated during the ‘60s but have once again become popular on the runway. Vintage stores provide the originals that can make your style so much more unique and diverse than will purchases from the retail stores who try to imitate styles from the past. Now that’s what I call getting your money’s worth!

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