Monday, September 20, 2010

Vintage Clothing: Eco-friendly Bargains

Both BCBG, both vintage! Sweater purchased from Happy 3 (Kits); Dress from Pink Elephant (Commercial Drive)
There are many brilliant reasons to buy consignment and second-hand clothing, and here are just few:
  1. Environmentalism. Not only are you in essence preventing the manufacture of a future garment by reusing a perfectly good existing article, you are also saving the planet from the detrimental effects of packaging (plastics production) and shipping (fossil fuel consumption).
  2. Economics. Buying a second-hand quality garment that will last for years at an obscenely low price makes good monetary sense. Even if it's not super high quality, the depreciation after purchase means that even a garment worn once can be later purchased at less than half the original price from a consignment shop. Oh, and you can often barter (like I did when I discovered a small cosmetic flaw in the neckline of a dress).
  3. Fashion sense. You will have problems succumbing to cookie-cutter fashion if you're not buying your clothes at the same place (and same time) as the masses. Successful vintage clothes shopping requires a little more thought than simply rolling into H&M and plucking something from a hanger; you have to be sure it fits and flatters and will stay in style long enough to be useful (go for the classics to be safe). Flip through the latest Vogue or BCBG MaxAzria Catalog to see what colours, shapes and styles are fashionable for the coming season and buy accordingly.
  4. Charity. The Salvation Army, the SPCA Thrift Shop, My Sister's Closet and others donate partial or entire proceeds to their respective charities. You can't go wrong by spending money here, and it's a great way to indirectly donate if you haven't got money to spare.
  5. The Rich B*tch. Thanks to your ΓΌber wealthy neighbours in Pt Grey and Shaughnessy who can't wear the same outfit more than once, high-fashion clothing is available at a fraction of the cost! Unfortunately, consignment stores are sure to make their fair share of the profit and these items are often still on the expensive side. Then again, if the Salvatore Ferragamo fits, wear it!
  6. Internationalism. Oh yeah, living in a cosmopolitan city has its upsides! Japanese styles straight from Harajuku are available (if you're petite), as are brands like Giordano (Hong Kong) and even clothing from UK retailers like TopShop and Monsoon (I swoon for Monsoon!). The styles vary continent to continent even in the same trends, and North America is often well behind Japan and Europe in terms of fashion trends - take advantage by shopping for international consignment goodies!
  7. The Smug Factor. "I love that jacket! OMG, where did you get it? What sizes does it come in? Are there any left?!" to which you reply, "What, this old thing? It's vintage, rare and cost me practically nothing. Sucks to be you."
Both skirts from My Sister's Closet (Yaletown); Red knit bolero from Happy 3 (Kits)
Alright, so perhaps the last point isn't quite in keeping with the spirit, but there is something to be said about not having to worry that you'll turn up wearing the same outfit as any of your friends, and that you look good for much, much less.
Another perk I might have added to the list is the element of risk - I have a terrible tendency to buy green (because it's my favourite colour) and browns, blues and teals (because they flatter me) to the exclusion of other more adventurous colours. Yesterday I bought something in coral. Coral supposedly looks good on everyone, but I needed a push from a friend to buy it. Now that it's home, I'm really happy with my purchase! The swing-coat styling of it is also a bit of a risk, as I would prefer to go straight to Club Monaco or BCBG and be confident that all of the clothing styles on offer are firmly en vogue.
Yesterday's big scores: Swing jacket from Bohemia Gallery; Black zipper-embellished dress from C'est La Vie
Yesterday I did a tour of Main Street vintage shops (Broadway and South to around 21st Ave) with a friend searching for a British Invasion (60's era) dress for an upcoming event. We hit up "Temple of the Modern Girl" at 11th first, which was great fun! The owner hopped to the challenge and passed me dress after dress - we found the winner about 15 minutes in for $30 (I got to crack a fortune cookie for a fashion fortune and a percentage off - 15% for me, 40% for my friend. Blast!). Only real drawback here is a cute little puffball named Nomi who is basically a nervous animated teddy bear with many sharp teeth. Apparently Nomi is the security system . . . I believe it!
The next two stops worthy of mention were The Bohemia Gallery and The Loft - two vintage stores with fantastic selection. The owner here is also friendly and helpful, and the store is a little less crazy than some stores (Temple of the Modern Girl is reminiscent of a giant walk-in closet belonging to a fashion-crazed teen - yes, there's even piles of clothes on the floor!).
Right next door to The Loft and the Bohemia Gallery is C'est La Vie consignment boutique. Talk about convenience; that's 3 great vintage clothing shops within arms reach of each other! C'est La Vie is also well put together and easy to browse in. The staff are a little less involved but every bit as friendly and they have lovely French accents which somehow makes vintage shopping more chic.
Belt from Salvation Army (4th Ave); Green jacket from Happy 3 (Kits); Grey jacket from Leche's (Victoria, BC)
Main street's Mount Pleasant area is now my favourite vintage shopping location in the city, followed closely behind by Commercial Drive (in particular Pink Elephant) and Kitsilano, although the density of vintage shops in Kits is considerably less. I recommend spending the day on Main with a friend and finishing off with dinner at Burgoo like we did. Mmmm!
Shirt from Happy 3 (Kits); both shorts from Turnabout consignment (Kits)
And remember - if you come up empty handed at the end of the day (it happens), at least you will have had a good time laughing with your friends at the shocking fashion atrocities that lurk among the racks. Cheap entertainment if nothing else, right? Happy Hunting!

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