Vintage 101: New York’s Best Pre-Owned Clothes

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imageWe all want to be resourceful when it comes to spending money these days — while still satiating our unwavering desire for fashion. So what is a self-proclaimed fashionista/recessionista to do? About two years ago, I discovered the intoxicating world of vintage shopping. I was a little fatigued by the endless barrage of trends and quite honestly just wanted to set my style apart. If you’re savvy enough, the somewhat underground world of vintage will not only further your pursuit of personalized style; it will also accommodate your newfound fervor for saving. I’m passionate about so many of the vintage treasures that New York City has to offer, but to get you in the vintage mood, here are five in particular that will inspire you to further explore this fabulous alternative world.

First on my list is always Edith Machinist on the LES. I love the industrial name, as it’s a complete juxtaposition to the actual product in the store. It’s also a great place to find romantic, feminine dresses. I bought the most wonderful dress from the 1940s for about $150 — one of those special pieces that always looks fresh. Also, the owner is probably the most astute vintage belt and vintage boot connoisseur in the city. The selection is vast and weighted towards 60s- and 80s-inspired designs.

The next stop should always be Marmalade, also on the LES. Marmalade has been a mainstay on Ludlow Street for years and can be a bit daunting to vintage newbies, as most of the pieces need a little nip/tuck, and the styles are print/pattern-heavy. That said, if you have a great eye, you can really explore your inner Carrie Bradshaw. I absolutely love this store for that unique find!

Eleven in Nolita has perhaps the most distinct vintage point of view; they tend to focus on what I call “themed vintage.” Most of their covetable pieces are truly special and inspired by either Victorian, military, or western uniforms. They cater to both women and men. For the girls, the Belle Epoque-influenced jackets and blouses are to die for, and for the guys, they have the broadest old-school flannel shirt selection in the city.

Next on my list is What Comes Around Goes Around in Soho. It is by far one of my favorite outposts for downtown cool fashion. The men’s side of the store is the most visually intriguing of the Vintage 101 set and houses some of the best T-shirts and belts in New York. They also have an incomparable selection of vintage Levis … I still love a man in a great beat-up pair of 501s. The women’s side moves us into the vintage couture world, with some of the finest YSL and Courreges, but also caters to our newfound bargain-hunter mentality, with a plethora of girly finds under $200.

Lastly I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Resurrection in Nolita. This store is hands down the best for vintage couture, with everything from Chanel to Gucci to YSL. The prices are definitely up there, but the clothes are high on every fashionista’s want list. I’m a big believer in timeless style, so if you can splurge once in a while, this is the place to do it.