{eco boutiques} vintage affair: romance in the aisles

Friday, April 10, 2015

i was standing, waiting for an elevator when the woman next to me swiveled round and declared that she loved my chiffon blouse.

"thank you! i've had this blouse for 15 years," i replied.

a gentleman waiting within earshot smiled and said, "that sounds like a variation of 'this ole thing?!'"

we all laughed. but 'tis true, most of my clothes i've chosen with longevity in mind. sometimes when routing through my closet, assembling an oufit for the day, i think: i've had this piece so long, this may be vintage! which is immediately followed by this thought: does this mean i'm vintage?

the truth is, i love thrifting + vintage shopping. i love plucking a rare, ripe find from a chaotic rack in just the right size, splashed with an unexpected color palette {mustard yellow + fuchsia, who knew?}. when fortuna smiles upon me with a fortuitous fashion encounter, i admit to being filled with a great sense of satisfaction.

if the item is missing a button or needs some tlc {aka a small, but reparable hole}, even better, since i enjoy sewing. while i mend, needle in hand, i think about the previous life of this garment: who wore it and when? my mind invents creative + romantic scenarios around each piece. thrifting is really the opportunity to give a quality garment a second chance.

living in the great city of chicago, there are a slew of options where you can find oldies, but goodies {including the suburbs of chicago}. read on to add a little vintage charm to your wardrobe or to add some sass to your home. here are five of my fave shops for thrifting:


1/ beehive chicago vintage collective {2950 w. carroll avenue / chicago}: one of my best gal pals with an impeccable sense of style took me to what looked like an abandoned loft building in garfield park on a saturday morning. "wait 'til you see what's inside," she said in her usual cool + calm demeanor, "you'll think you've died and gone to vintage heaven." i grew quiet. we were buzzed in through a heavy metal door. anticipation grew. we then made our way through a maze of brightly-lit, narrow walkways. and finally, we arrived. i saw the light: literally + figuratively: a sun-drenched, loft space {8,000 sq feet!} hosting ten stalls bursting with trappings from decades past. now, telling you that i have a fave stall feels like a mother telling you she has a favorite child, but i cannot tell a lie: poly golightly {get it?} is not only a clever little name, but this selection of frocks + tops  + bottoms is dynamite. the queen bee is robyn witt, sweet + shrewd, she heads the collective like the boss that she is. open saturdays only, 11am-5pm

2/ the economy shop {103 s. grove / oak park} this is a thrift shop like no other. housed in a three-story victorian home, this shop opened in 1919. founded by a group of entrepreneurial women savvy enough to weather the depression and recessions since. here's what to expect: three floors full of bargains; items are neatly sorted + priced by department and room {if you love books or scratchy records head to the basement; if your inner chef is seeking cooking utensils + kitchenware head upstairs; and if you're like me and the eco fashionista in you tingles from the mere thought of vintage finds for $1, hang a left after entering}. a dedicated army of volunteers maintain the shop, with proceeds from all sales benefiting seven charities including two of my favorite: the animal care league of oak park {where i adopted my sweet pup electron} and hepzibah center for children. as my college english professors stressed the importance of repetition as a literacy device, let us recap here: 1 shop, 16 departments, 7 charities. these are some good numbers, ladies + gents. open one thursday and two saturdays each month. make a daytrip of it. worth the trek. check here for dates + times.
3/ depaul thrift shop {1125 s. milwaukee / libertyville} the society of saint vincent depaul has three shops in the chicago land area, but the one i will take planes, trains + automobiles to get to is the libertyville shop. proceeds from sales benefit families in need by providing assistance with heat, electricity, food and rent {including victims of domestic violence}. as the folks at saint vincent remind us: whether you're shopping or donating, you're giving. when i made the decision to move to europe, i was on a strict budget, but i was going to invest in new luggage to carry the few, but precious belongings i had carefully selected to cross the pond with. a month before my trip, i dropped in to the spacious + refreshingly uncluttered store and chatted with the friendly staff who were charting the progress of my travel adventures; the gals working there pointed out that a set of like-new suitcases had arrived if i was interested. for $14. ring me up, scotty. find days of operation and hours here. free pick up available for furniture. 
4/ the brown elephant {5404 n. clark street / chicago + 217 harrison street / oak park} it would seem that all the stars align each time i walk into the brown elephant. if i am sans furniture or footware or if a harsh winter has swallowed up yet another pair of my gloves, this is the place i head to. revenue generated by donations + purchases funds services for clients at the howard brown center, serving the lgbtq community. living + working in chicago, i pass by many an alley chock full of beautiful furniture in its prime, heading straight to a land fill before its time. i've dragged home a number of pieces, but the brown elephant will come pick up your goods for free. so as my bestie likes to say: don't be a larry landfill. they're just a phone call away! days + hours right on over here. top notch customer service + nice, neat shelves: a magic combo.
5/ etsy {e-commerce} ah, etsy sweet etsy. the online marketplace for all things handmade + vintage: where folks from all across the world with discerning eyes do the rummaging and all you have to do is clickety click your way to a new, impeccably-made frock. it's like a little e-time capsule. craving a trinket or a one-of-a-kind treasure from the 1960's or any other decade that tickles your fancy? head on over yonder. a few standouts: dear golden / adVintagious / 86 vintage 86 / blossom vintage shop / moon and soda / sweet bee finds. hours + location: your place, my place, any ole space. and away we go!

*honorable mention to buffalo exchange {1478 n. milwaukee / chicago}, a consignment shop that will sell your gently used garments + footwear + baubles, including vintage items. shiny, happy people working here makes for good vibes. get cash or store credit for items you'd like to part with. hours right here.

ok, friends, thrifts shops are bursting with possibilities. now get out there and do some digging if you're feeling adventurous today!

oh, and i thought everybody loved vintage shopping, until i read this entertaining + enlightening post by sustainable style maven alden wicker. are you a hunter or a farmer? find out today!

{images by finny + dill | dress image via dear golden}

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