Yesterday I went to the Manhattan Vintage Show. I was on a mission to find fab, undiscovered NYC vintage stores and overall the trip was a BIG success. As you know, I like to think of myself as a blossoming vintage expert. The column on BlackBookMag.com certainly allows me to cut my teeth and forces me to stay on top of the burgeoning vintage scene. Now I say "force" lightly as I absolutely love, love, love vintage, but scouring the city for previously owned treasures can be oh-so time consuming...
The Manhattan Vintage Show is not only perfect for the time-crunched consumer as it houses about 100 vendors from all over under one heated roof, but you can really find the best of the best!!! Now of course, shopping heaven isn't for the faint-hearted. Forget that there is temptation around every corner, as you expect it... What you may not be prepared for is total and complete sensory overload, crowded spaces and hard to find, not at all private fitting rooms (there are only 2). If you are a sample sale veteran then you probably won't be fazed at all, but if you like to be pampered when you shop, then I say skip this one. Of course, I loved every minute of it!!!
Here are the top reasons you should brave the fashion-hungry crowds:
1. The vintage fur selection is insane and the prices are certifiable (in a good way).
2. The vintage jewelry is to-die. If you love the multi-chain look or are into big chunky pieces, this is the place for you. There are also bangles galore...perfect for this seasons layered look.
3. There is a must-have cocktail dress in every booth. You always need a few good go-to dresses in your closet, so why spend tons of money when you can have one-of-a-kind, special little frocks for more than half the price.
4. If you have to buy top designer labels, but are feeling the Q1 pinch, you can definitely find a way to satiate your desire. Sometimes the pieces from the past are even better than those of today.
5. Accessories, accessories, accessories!!! You will find the best bags, belts and gloves at a fraction of what you would normally pay.
6. Everyone will negotiate. Forget the price on the ticket...ask for less.
7. It only costs $20 to get in...the perfect economical Saturday afternoon (that is if you don't go crazy).
OK, now I have convinced you to go. Here are pointers on how to survive the insanity... If you want fur, there are really only two booths worth going to. The first is directly to your right when you enter. It is across from the Cherry Vintage booth. The second is in the middle, towards the back. You can't miss it as almost the entire booth has fur in it. The first has better prices and gorgeous pieces. The best booth for jewelry is all the way on the back aisle. There is so much to choose from, so it can be a bit overwhelming, but I promise, well worth it. Most pieces are under $100. The best high-end designer and couture booths are all the way to the back left. Rare Vintage actually has a store on West 57 and has really fabulous couture and Marlene Wetherell, also with a store on West 25th, has amazing cocktail dresses, designer blouses, jumpsuits and so much more. The best bags are towards the front of the show, with a Vintage Chanel booth that is unbelievable in the entryway of the Metropolitan Pavillion (you can't miss it). For belts, gloves and hats, you really just need to walk around, as there wasn't one particular standout.
Here are two honorable mentions that don't necessarily fit into the aforementioned categories. I want to thank the lovely owners of Hala Vintage (store is in Jersey City, though a website is coming soon) for color coordinating their wares. It makes it so much easier to actually see the clothes and of course helps you edit. If you know you hate green, then you can just jump to the yellow. Not one other vendor was so kind. Out Of The Closet Vintage from Bridehampton also gets a gold star for not only having inspired pieces, but for having the nicest staff. Both vendors are somewhere in the middle, slightly left aisles and both are worth a drive-by.
I am going to give away some of my favorite vintage shopping tips as well, which I promise will help your decision making process. Check the fur thoroughly for small weaknesses, as you don't want the pelt to split on you after purchase (no returns). Go ahead and buy fur that is a little big on you...no one can tell. Don't walk away from a bag because you don't like the straps. I cut most of mine off and turn them into clutches. Wear a tee shirt and leggings so you can just throw on a dress, blouse, jacket over your clothes...the fitting rooms may as well not even exist. Again, don't be afraid to buy a dress that is a little too big or too long. Everything can usually be altered to your exact specifications, though beading and lace can be tricky, so make sure to check for alterable seams, hems, etc. Use you imagination and have fun!!! Just because the magazines are talking about specific trends, doesn't mean that you have to listen to them. Now if you just lack imagination and really only follow the fashion drones, then sadly this is probably not the right shopping experience for you...
The show runs through Saturday (today) at the Metropolitan Pavillion, at 125 West 18th, between 6th and 7th. If you can't make it, don't despair... The next is April 24th-25th. Remember girls...it is time to embrace vintage...save a little money...add a little flare and panache to your wardrobe. Oh and by the way, if you are still a naysayer, the magazines are telling you to go vintage as well!!!