Party Like a Rockstar

Or how about dress like one?

Mercy Vintage recently hosted a pop up shop featuring limited one of a kind items from the closet of Kim Gordon, rock icon from Sonic Youth.

It was a hot summer evening as a small crowd of people gathered into the cozy boutique. With a glass of spiked lemon ice tea in hand, and a plate of delectable pickled veggies in the other, my eyes devoured the sights of Kim’s clothes – all in perfect vintage condition and only at an arm’s length away. Marc Jacobs, Pucci, and Alexander Wang were amongst some of the designer duds for sale, as well as other vintage items.

I also couldn’t help but sift through the racks of Mercy’s regular merchandise. They have an amazing collection of dresses ranging from casual cotton day dresses to fancy chiffon and tulle fit for prom – no wonder I love shopping here. All of the frocks were so darling and I swear I heard one call out to me, “Chic Vic!” To my surprise, it was not a dress, but Brandy, the fashionista-confectionista blogger from Will Bake for Shoes. We oogled over which of Kim’s pieces were our favorites.

Alas, I was good to my pocketbook by not spending a dime, but I assure you this is one act you don’t want to miss out on.

Nautical by Nature

Whoever said “It’s not the size of the boat, but the motion in the ocean” obviously has never had motion sickness. Pass the Dramamine please!

It’s that time of year again. Handsome men in uniform flood the streets of San Francisco. Huge ships are docked at the piers. Blue Angels soar high above the city, performing death-defying stunts. That’s right, Fleet Week has arrived. And what better way to get in the spirit than by getting a little naughty? And by naughty, I mean nautical by nature, of course. At ease sailor, at ease!

I didn’t even realize I needed or wanted a long striped skirt in my life until I came across one at a cheapie store during my trip to Chicago last year. It called to me, “Ahoy  matey!” and I was instantly in love. Why stripes? The true original nautical look is a white top with navy stripes, which are also known as Breton stripes. Coco Chanel introduced it to the fashion world in 1917, and the rest is history. It seems that stripes are always a big thing each season, so when I picked up this skirt, I knew that I could wear it for many summers to come. All’s I gotta do now is find me a nice yacht and a captain to throw me a lifesaver. Ahoy!

Vintage Fashion Expo: WINNING

You know the saying, “It’s like finding a needle in a haystack”? Well, I found that needle twice, no, make that three times. Except that the haystack was the Vintage Fashion Expo, and the needles were my three vintageous purchases. After an S&M-ish detour around Folsom Street Festival, I arrived at the Expo late Sunday afternoon. I suppose it was due to the moat of bondage clad half naked bodies outside, and the fact that it was late in the day, but the exhibition center was surprisingly quiet. This meant less crowds to fight through, less rushed shopping, and overall more bargaining power.

My first stop was at Aubergine Vintage. Clearly, they brought everything with them as well as the kitchen sink. Racks among racks of dresses, skirts, maxi dresses, slips, sweaters, hats, vintage Dooney & Bourke, boots, 70s polyester, 80s shoulder pads, and so much more. Everything was tagged with pricing, which eliminated the need for bargaining. Additionally, their prices were surprising very reasonable. I talked to Sarah, the store manager, and found out that they obtain most of their treasures from Texas and Europe. Oooh la la, French laundry direct from the the City of Lights? Cowboy boots straight from the “everything is bigger” state? I wanted to know, what was the most amazing thing that they have come across? “Recently there was a pristine vintage Burberry quintessential trench coat, and those go for $3,000. It was spectacular; amazing,” gushed Sarah. Wow was all I could say to that. I made off with two dresses in impeccable condition for $32 – the fact that they were petite sized was an added bonus!

Energized from my purchases from Aubergine, I proceeded next door to Donnaland, where they had a wide range of clothing and a killer jewelry collection to boot. It was the ultimate one stop shop for a complete outfit. Although her price points were higher, they were still far better than some of the other vendors there, and fast talking Donna was ready to wheel n’ deal. Donna had a personality as big as her vintage collection, and after speaking with her I know why: she’s been in the business since 1982. “I used to have the world’s largest wholesale deadstock company in St. Louis, Missouri for 24 years. I would travel all over the world to buy whole factories of clothing,” she explained. I hovered over the jewelry trays for a long time and contemplated a pair of gold toned 60’s clip on earrings until my eyes landed on a lovely sequined number hanging by the fur coats. Initially I wasn’t thinking of buying it until an impromptu entourage of gals threw compliments my way as I tried it on. “Ooooh it looks good on you girl!” said one. “I see it with a pair of ripped jeans!” added another. With my ego inflated, I was convinced I needed it in my closet, and I tried my hand at wheeling and dealing but didn’t move the needle much. The verdict: $37 for a fully lined sequined wool top, and not a sequin out of place. Thank you Donnaland, I shall return next year.

All I could do for the remaining 15 minutes left until the Expo’s close was to drink up the sights with my eyes (and camera) as vendors began packing their worldly goods away. It was a successful day: I spent $69 for three awesome pieces and still had money leftover to buy a ticket to the Vintage Couture Ball. I don’t quote Charlie Sheen much (or ever), but it seems fitting in this case: WINNING.

Attention All Vintage-nistas!

Coinciding with Fall Equinox (September 22), the Vintage Fashion Expo returns to the Concourse Exhibition Center for two days of fabulous vendors selling vintage clothing, baubles, and one of a kind items you couldn’t even imagine. Did I just die and go to Vintage Heaven? Yes, yes I did.

Shopping for vintage and thrifted items is definitely not for the faint of heart. Most of my friends ask, “How can you stand that musty smell?” followed by “Um, I’ll just wait outside” are the usual responses I hear. Their comments fall on my deaf ears, as I’m already knee deep digging through bargain bins or flipping through racks of clothing. Fear not, for as long as you are armed with a bottle of hand sanitizer for post shopping clean up, thrift shopping can be quite fun and rewarding if you just put in a little elbow grease. Or, you can shop in a fancy vintage boutique where they have perfected the art of removing that odor.

For the newbie, here is a quickie guide of popular women’s’ styles by decade from 1920s-1980s:

1920s Flapper era: boyish/straight lined silhouettes and looser clothing; shorter skirts, drop waist dresses, and pleats were popular

1930s Great Depression: longer hemline returns as well as a more womanly silhouette (natural waistline); bias cut dresses for a figure flattering look that was fluttery with draping and ruffles

1940s the war years: broad, padded or puffed shoulders and defined/fitted waist; pleated knee/calf length skirt; dress suits popular; peplums

1950s post war: feminine, flouncy dresses; circle skirts with petticoat; twinset sweaters; cigarette pants; the Chanel Suit was introduced

1960s counterculture & social movement: the Mod look with mini skirts/dresses with very short hemlines; the Hippie look with bell bottoms and frayed jeans; knee high boots

1970s glam rock & disco: hot pants; glitter and Lurex fabrics; zippered jumpsuits; flared jeans and trousers; the famous DVF wrap dress made its first appearance

1980s I was born: the return of shoulder pads for “power dressing” to reflect women in the workplace; the dance wear look with leotards, tights, and leg warmers; leggings; “Members Only” jackets; Doc Martens; influence of Madonna and Michael Jackson…..and the list is exponentially long

Some trends overlap in decades, and there are styles that I have left out to keep this brief. This list is not meant to be exhaustive, and I am exhausted after all my research! If there is a favorite fad of yours that I didn’t include, please share.