As most fashionistas know, trends go in and out in a blink of an eye. I’m the girl that buys whatever is “hot” at the exact moment the fashion police deem it to be uncool. We’ve all been scratching our heads, watching as clothes become tinier, more expensive and, in most cases, more ugly. I’ve almost given up hope on staying in style, but on my quest to figure out what exactly is hot and what’s not, I’ve found that there is one fashion trend that doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon: vintage.
Vintage is becoming more popular these days, and can be seen in many designers’ collections, including Christian Dior’s spring/summer 2012 couture line, which draws inspiration from vintage silhouettes. For anyone that has attempted to buy cute, vintage fashion, however, there’s only one problem: most of the time, it’s expensive. However, don’t worry. I’ve solved the answer to the eternal question: “how do I spend less money and still look cute?” Thrift stores, consignment and second-hand shops offer cheap alternatives to any vintage look you can imagine. It might take a while to stumble across something great, but in the end it’s well worth the effort.
Thankfully, living near Philadelphia, there are tons of options when it comes to vintage. Here are a few I stores I checked out, all nestled together in Queens Village, which is right off of South Street.
Jenny From the Block
I almost walked past Jenny From the Block, but the pile of clothes, CDs and DVDs outside caught my eye and made me stop. I’m so happy I did. Inside there were tons of gorgeous vintage finds, my favorite being a 1950s black and green prom dress, priced at only $25. Everything looked super chic and I had to physically restrain myself from grabbing all the clothes and shouting “mine!” There were a bunch of modern pieces scattered throughout, as well. While not all of the clothing items were insanely cheap, if you searched a little you could come across something great at a reasonable price. The jewelry section was top-notch, though, with more than half of the items being only $8. Earrings, rings, necklaces, broaches…you name, Jenny had it. Beware, the place is tiny and is packed with clothes, jewelry, even décor. It’s a tight squeeze but totally worth it for some great vintage pieces with a modern spin, perfect for today’s trends.
If you’re looking for spectacular, painstakingly chosen pieces then Wilbur Vintage is for you. Dan, Wilbur’s owner, hand chooses every single item that’s on display. He has a great eye and knows what’s in trend and what looks good. The store itself is little, but it’s overflowing with clothes, shoes, and amazing jewelry (I had my eye on a rustic long chained necklace with an anchor pendant, priced at about $35). The prices are a bit higher than Jenny From The Block, but compared to designer prices and higher-end vintage stores, Wilbur is on the cheaper side. If you’re looking for a steal, the racks and bins outside the store are a good place to start! There’s usually something adorable hidden in the bins, and with a little digging you could emerge with something fabulous. Inside, the walls are lined with racks of clothes and cases full of jewelry, with a great shoe selection taking up the middle. Don’t worry, boys, Wilbur didn’t forget about you. There’s a men’s section towards the back, so you, too, can rock the vintage look without breaking the bank. The fact that there’s no front counter might throw you off a bit, but it makes the whole shopping experience feel more personal.
Philadelphia AIDS Thrift
Not only is Philadelphia AIDS Thrift cheap, it’s massive. With two floors packed with treasures, oddities, and everything imaginable, there is no reason that you should leave this store empty-handed. There are sections for everybody: woman, men, even kids. The best part is that the store is split into sub-divisions. Downstairs there’s Fancyland (my favorite!), which is where a bunch of featured formal attire is located. I almost walked out with a 1960’s baby blue chiffon prom dress until I realized that I had no need for something so formal. After putting it back on the rack and shedding some tears over my lost dress, I headed upstairs. There’s not much else clothing wise on the lower level, so you’ve gotta go upstairs to get to the goods. Not only are clothes categorized by gender (yes, that’s right! There’s tons here for guys to check out, a really wide selection) there is a whole room dedicated to vintage. This room was packed with people, but had nice pieces that were priced a little higher than those thrown in the regular racks. Also upstairs is a not so stellar shoe collection, a library of books and records and the regular clothing section. There’s also a dollar section complete with jeans, dresses and t-shirts for only a buck! Admittedly, Philly AIDS thrift takes a bit more searching than Jenny and Wilbur, but it’s totally worth it. The prices are outrageously cheap, there’s usually always sales going on (look for the green, purple and orange tags), and it all goes to a great cause. PAT donates all of the profits to the AIDS Fund, which in turn distributes money to local Philly AIDS/HIV organizations. Now you can look cute, spend less money and make a difference!
So my fellow fashionistas, there you have it. Three great stores in which you can buy cute, inexpensive vintage. Take aside a whole day and just browse….there’s so much to see, you don’t want to miss anything! I also challenge you to go exploring. There are way more vintage stores, second-hand and consignment shops in Philadelphia. Go look for them. Make shopping an adventure! Find your own little hole-in-the-wall store. They’re hidden everywhere, you just have to find them! Don’t be afraid to stop and look around, you never know, you’ll might just happen to stumble upon something amazing.
Photography credited to Bri Wink via LocoMag, and featured image credited to Ashton via Creative Commons licensing.