There is eco-friendly fashion, and there is eco-friendly fashion. The first you might classify as newly crafted out of organic and/or recycled materials with a conscious attempt to have very little, if any, effect on the environment. The second is the re-used variety – purchased from second-hand shops or your grandmother’s closet.
I entered a “used” clothing store for the first time in high school during my punk, all-black phase (i.e. when leggings were all the rage” the first time around). It was fun to pick through the racks and pull out a diamond in the rough, holding it up for my friends to oooh and ahhh at with envy.
Today we call these stores “boutiques” and the clothes “vintage”. While still offering barely-worn pieces from as recently as last season for half the price, the used clothing business has taken on new refinement. And with reuse and recycle on all of our minds, it’s a good time to consider the art of creatively re-wearing.
After all, I’d much rather wear this elegant vintage Chanel jacket I found for $250 with a new pair of slacks and heels, than look like every other woman stepping out of Barneys or Saks or Nordstrom. It may take more patience to shop vintage, but it’s much easier on your pocketbook and the planet as well.
To help awaken the vintage shopper in all of you, here’s a list of some of the best vintage and consignment shops around the country. I’d love to hear from you if you visit one, or if you know of any others worth mentioning.
Atlanta: Frock of Ages – You’ll find Dior, Chanel and lots of glam cocktail rings.
Austin: Feathers Boutique – Cream of the crop designer pieces in perfect condition.
Denver: The Snob Shop – Gucci, MaxMara and Stuart Weitzman. Plus never-worn Vera Wang bridal gowns.
Houston: More Than You Can Imagine – Cute decor, clothing organized by designer. Nothing more than 2 years old. B’Dazzled – Great place to find jewelry and vintage handbags.
Las Vegas: It’s Paradise Boutique – Wide selection from Betsey Johnson to Gucci. Ritzy Rags Boutique – Fantastic selection at reasonable prices.
Los Angeles: The Address – Open since 1986, an LA favorite for designer labels. The Way We Wore – Exceptional clothing from many different eras. Pleasant and helpful staff.
Miami: Miami Twice – A celeb-favorite; funky and great for wardrobing films and music videos. Fly Boutique – One of the most popular South Beach women’s boutiques. All the best designers from Gucci to Marc Jacobs to Louis Vuitton.
Minneapolis: Fashion Avenue – Great selection, easy to shop, appropriate prices.
New Orleans: Prima Donna’s Closet – Hip designer fashions at great prices.
New York: Don the Verb – the Verb’s Russian owner grew up scouring the flea markets. The store has been called “a treasure chest of vintage beauty”. Tokio7 – Loyal customers love this East Village shop with labels like Prada, Gucci, Issey Miyake.
Portland: Bombshell Vintage – Known for its one-of-a-kind finds and great prices.
San Francisco: CRIS – Beautifully displayed inventory ranges from young and trendy to luxury designer garments. Mascara Vintage – Go. there. now. (on Polk Street between Clay & Washington)
Seattle: Alexandra’s – Practically new designer clothing at 70-90% off retail. Le Frock – Small space but large selection of designer clothes, shoes, sunglasses.
Washington DC: Secondi – Only the best of the best.
Happy hunting! And remember, patience and persistence are the keys to successful designer vintage shopping.