It never fails. You’re out at a random event in the city and in walks this creature garbed in what is seemingly the best outfit you’ve ever seen. Intrigued by their stylings you move closer, looking for a familiar detail, something that might reveal a trusted retailer or an expensive designer. Nothing. “Where on earth did she get that dress?” you ask yourself, and to avoid being labeled a stalker you also ask the flashy lady in question. “Oh it’s vintage! I bought it at a thrift store a few years back,” she nonchalantly responds. You walk away feeling somewhat defeated, inspired and yet not at all surprised.
Living in an area that is rich in history but not considered an epicenter of fashionable conquest, a fashion enthusiast is constantly in search of unique, untouchable pieces for their wardrobe and vintage clothing becomes a viable option. For the experts like our aforementioned lady in her killer silk Flora Kung dress, shopping for vintage pieces is a wonderfully easy notion but for the novice it can be a dangerous shot in the dark, a tragic purchase, the point of no returns. It doesn’t have to be this way. The only advantage the seasoned vintage shopper has is a strict discernment, considering only the best pieces not necessarily high in price but of good quality and condition. To avoid the risk of looking dated, purchase classic pieces like tailored pencil skirts, silk or polyester chiffon dresses, blouses, suiting and shirts. Also pay close attention to the condition of the garment looking to see if it requires alterations or special care. Vintage pieces are best paired with current pieces to achieve a unique and balanced style.
If the idea of shopping vintage still seems daunting to you, consult and shop with a trusted vintage retailer like Uesa Robinson of Uesa Goods Vintage in Capitol Hill. Perusing through Uesa’s inventory you’ll find exquisite jewelry, designer heels, silk wiggle dresses and a selection of handbags and accessories not easily found elsewhere in the district. She’s truly a local gem.
There’s no better way to spend a weekend afternoon than rummaging the racks of any of the nine Value Village Thrift Store locations nearby in Maryland. Come with a little patience, a strict eye for detail and there’s no telling what you’ll find here. Tip: The best time to hit Value Village is on a Sunday afternoon during inclement weather. Business is usually slow and their sales people aren’t too busy to point you towards special pieces that aren’t on the racks or in the average shopper’s line of sight.
Junction Vintage is one of the longest standing vintage stores in the city. While the inventory is small and tightly curated, their pieces are unique and hard to come by. Chic mini dresses, wicker clutches and delicate drop earrings are just some of the items they feature at Junction. They also happen to have the best selection of outerwear for the colder months providing you get there just after they’ve made them available to their customers. This is my trusted source for high quality faux fur coats, stoles and London Fog trenches.
Regardless of where you find your favorite vintage pieces remember to keep it simple and make them your own by mixing different prints and textures, layering colors and silhouettes. Vintage styling is most successful when your outfit is both striking and impossible to emulate.
Sharon Cyrus also known as The Silent Stylist, is our fashion and style writer who knows about trends and keeps us up on emerging designers. Got a Pick! for Sharon? Contact her here or on Twitter at @SilentStylist.