Buying vintage clothing isn’t a novel concept. Like many people, when I started shopping for used clothes during my high school years in Minnesota, I was simply adding an affordable splash of style to my wardrobe. Since then it’s become my passion, and I hunt down cool secondhand shops wherever I travel. Over the years, vintage has become serious business. Christie’s and Sotheby’s auction off designer collections. Supermodel Karen Elson is opening a boutique in Nashville this fall. And Oxfam has brought on fashion whiz Jane Shepherdson—former brand director of London’s trendy Topshop—to remake the company’s dreary charity stores and to shine a spotlight on the sustainability factor of vintage. “Initially people were drawn to vintage because it was one of a kind,” says Cameron Silver, king of the trade and owner of Decades, in Los Angeles. “Now it’s extra chic because it’s green.” A justification for my obsession at last. Here, a short list of my favorite boutiques worldwide.
Owner Juliana Cairone sources big names (Chanel, Dior) and styles celebrities for the red carpet.
The West Village boutique carries groovy clothes and shoes from across the decades. The real gems are on the second floor.
Worth the detour to this former whaling town, Calico specializes in chic disco dresses.
Jazz music sets a retro tone for antique handbags, costume jewelry, and more in stylish Litchfield County.
Wooden pharmacy cabinets line the walls, and the stock includes outfits used in films.
In the fashionable Little Five Points area, Stefan’s is a flashback to another time.
Karen Elson’s new shop should have as much style as the model herself.
A veritable department store of vintage.
Taking a cue from A Streetcar Named Desire, the focus here is on chic slips to wear out and about.
The place where I started thrifting is chock-full of Midcentury designs.
Owner Cameron Silver was named one of Time’s 25 Most Influential Names and Faces in Fashion.
In up-and-coming Echo Park, Flounce carries sweet printed dresses from the 50’s.
A tiny hideaway near Portobello Market with a mod 70’s vibe.
The first of the new stores from Jane Shepherdson also sells green and fair-trade clothes.
A treasure trove for vintage Gucci bags and other Italian designer goods, in the trendy Porta Ticinese district.
Adjoining the famed San Telmo flea market, this packed shop is like a museum of fashion.