Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Castoffs can make your wardrobe -

Vintage clothing stores can yield treasures if you know how to look
Chantal Eustace
Calgary Herald

With a little digging, you can find pieces to treasure at vintage and second-hand clothing stores.
CREDIT: Photos, Ian Smith, Canwest News Service
With a little digging, you can find pieces to treasure at vintage and second-hand clothing stores.

Call it what you like -- vintage, preloved, used, junk, lived-in, gently worn, unwanted wear, time-warp or consignment -- done right, other people's casto s can transform a dull outfit into something spectacular.

Buying someone else's unwanted Levis is economical -- and especially relevant in these uncertain financial times. It's ecological too, a stylish way to help the polar bears.

"I think the main reason people shop vintage is because they have a very unique and defined sense of style and vintage clothing enables them to express themselves as an individual," says Carly Lenarduzzi, owner of Mintage, a Vancouver vintage clothing retailer. "With so many cookie-cutter clothing stores, vintage clothing is a breath of fresh air."

If you do it right, that is.

It can't look too ratty. It shouldn't make you look like an extra from Austin Powers, or worse, a cast member from the original Beverly Hills 90210. It shouldn't look like it is something old that you wore in your youth, or something you never stopped wearing.

And it definitely shouldn't be stained, smelly or infested by bugs.

If you're new to second-hand shopping, make sure you stick to basics like denims, skirts, T-shirts or coats. Leave the tutus to the pros.

To help you get into the groove, we've compiled some shopping tips and tryouts. Pretty soon you'll be mapping out your own route, consigning your prom dress, and stepping out in a rockabilly shirt with a pair of mod boots.

Or just bragging about the $5 you paid for your new cashmere sweater.

Armchair Shopper

If you're really a vintage virgin -- and you don't want to dig -- find a comfy chair and go online.

There are loads of great web-sites that sell preloved apparel, including the obvious and easy eBay. Or, click away for some vintage couture at It is a virtual treasure trove of used designer duds, including brands like Versace and Dior.

Be Bold

A little digging in consignment shops (look under Consignment in the Yellow Pages or enter "consignment clothing Calgary" into an Internet search engine) and you'll be bragging to your pals about your $15 Oxfords or $20 Burberrys.

Don't let the sometimes drab exteriors put you o . Be bold. Find your deals!

Or better yet, bring in your old stu when you go. Eventually, you'll be earning money to shop. (Well, sort of.)

Paradise Found

Charity thrift stores like those operated by the Salvation Army o er up some of the best deals in used shopping opportunities, along with a solid dose of good karma. There are fashion treasures to be found among the mountains of stu , from paintings to tea cups to sofas and china kittens.

Procrastination Not Allowed

If you see something you like, pick it up immediately, reflect on it later. Chances are, if you leave that Saskatchewan Wheat Pool T-shirt or faux fur jacket and plan to return -- it'll be gone.

So get digging.

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