Having said a little about my rather particular thoughts on vintage clothing, I thought I’d share my first efforts to shop for vintage here in Washington D.C. After all, I started this blog not just to talk about my love of fashion but to write about my sartorial adventures in my new hometown.
I’d been excited to see what D.C.’s vintage scene has to offer since I first got here in November. But between work, getting settled in, and the holidays, I didn’t set off on my first shopping expedition until the Friday before New Year’s. With the city easing in to a long holiday weekend, I figured I’d have plenty of time and elbow room to browse. I knew exactly where I wanted to go too, having spent several months in close consultation with my good friend the Interwebs. It was a warm, sunny, almost springlike day, and I figured I could take a nice stroll over to 14th and U St. to check out the vintage stores in the neighborhood.
Treasury, the first stop on my tour, turned out to be a vintage store after my own heart. For starters, it was nicely arranged with lots of pretty, enticing displays – more like a well-thought-out boutique than jumbled rummage sale (another quality I really appreciate in a vintage store). While the shop is on the small side, this proved my salvation since I wanted just about everything in the place. Treasury offeres a carefully selected range of clothing, mostly from the ’60s and later (as well as some contemporary clothing), but with a number of pieces dating earlier. Prices are on the high side of reasonable but not out of line given the selectivity and high quality of the merchandise.
There was also has a nice collection of jewelry, bags, and other accessories. In fact, the first thing that caught my eye when I walked in was a ’60s tweed satchel with a brown leather frame and handles. I refrained from clutching it to my chest and crying “Mine!”– at least until after I took a look through the clothes.
I quickly found myself in the dressing room with a large pile to try on, including a purple silk, long Vietnamese tunic, which I hoped rather than thought would fit my curvy figure (I would have cheered when I got all the buttons done, except that I couldn’t breathe in deeply enough to get out more than a little yip). My most exciting find of the day was a black sheath dress, probably from the early ’60s, with amazing architectural sleeves made of puffs of pale beige-pink tulle encased by intertwining strips of black wool fabric. Sadly, the dress was too big, particularly through the shoulders, almost to the point of sagging and ruining the effect of the beautiful sleeves. I agonized awhile, wondering if I could alter the dress to fit, but at $200, decided it just wasn’t a fix-er-upper.
The sales women were incredibly helpful, a trait not always found in vintage stores (or, sadly, most boutiques these days). They not only started a dressing room for me while I browsed but helpfully pointed out a few items that I might like without being pushy. They even patiently helped me think through whether to buy the sheath dress, first recommending a place to get the dress altered (Ginger Root Design) and then, when I still hesitated, suggesting the dress probably won’t sell right away if I wanted to leave it and come back in a day or two if I decided I still wanted it.
I left Treasury with a couple of nice finds — the satchel and a black wool, cropped Calvin Klein jacket that isn’t nearly old enough to fit in my usual definition of “vintage”. Luckily, I’m not enough of a vintage snob to let that stop me. Any piece that is well made and that fits right, especially in a classic design, is a good purchase. As luck would have it, the jacket has been perfect for this winter’s mild weather and will make a nice option for crisp autumn days (assuming the autumn turns crisp in these here parts). Most importantly, perhaps, I headed home with a desire to come back soon in search of more vintage treasures.