Category — Shopping

How to Shop At an Antique Mall

Debutante Clothing

I love shopping at antique malls for vintage clothing and accessories. Some malls are VERY organized, some, not so much. Regardless of how well merchandised a mall is, i love that I don’t have to dig too much to find real gems. As a vintage collector, most of the time the prices can’t be beat. As a vintage dealer, I would still rather pay a bit more for the convenience of it just being there waiting for me to take it home. If you are curious about shopping at an antique mall, here are my tips on how to find the best treasures and negotiate good deals.

1. Shop in the afternoons during the week

Dealers usually bring in fresh merchandise during the week when there aren’t too many crowds. Mornings, or opening time, are the best times for dealers to stock their shelves. Wait until the goodies are stocked and take your pick of the treasures! If you have to shop weekends, get there as soon as they open. You know the saying about the worm.

2. Return unwanted items to the front counter

I always walk around with my “maybe I want this” items. If you change your mind about an item, be kind and take it to the front counter instead of sticking it back just anywhere. I can’t tell you how many times I found random items in my booth with missing price tags indicating who they belong to. And I would find some of my missing items in other dealers booths as well. It’s just much easier to return items to their rightful spaces if you let the cashier know you have changed your mind.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount

At the antique mall where I rented a space, cashiers knew that a 10% discount was allowable for most of the dealers in the mall. If you want to ask for a further discount, or want to make an offer, ask the cashier. They will call the dealer and get an approval or rejection. Many times the dealers just want to move some inventory, and if your offer is reasonable, they will accept. But please don’t ask for a 50% discount because a dress has a broken zipper. The keyword here is REASONABLE.

4. Visit your favorite dealers frequently

Good dealers will replenish and merchandise their selections weekly. If you have purchased more than one item from the same dealer, visit them regularly to see if they have any new items. I visit one dealer at a small antique mall regularly because I always find at least one designer vintage item, very reasonably priced, each time I visit her space.

5. Got on the dealers mailing list

A smart dealer will include a website or email address on their signage in their booth or on their price tags. Get on that list to find out when the dealers has restocked or when they might be having sales or selling at flea markets or fairs. It’s always a good idea to stay in touch with dealers you like and trust.

Do you like shopping at antique malls as much as I do? Tell me about it! Leave a comment below.



June 4, 2013   2 Comments

Why That Vintage Dress Is Worth More Than You Are Paying

It never fails. Vintage dealers and shoppers wondering out loud why one vintage dress is worth over $200 in a boutique when an equally cute one at the flea market costs $40. Dealers wondering why they can only get $80 for a 1950s dress while another dealer gets almost $400 for a similar dress. Shoppers looking for something unique and pretty, grumbling about the $300 price tag.

The truth is, there are a number of factors that play into the value and price of a vintage dress. Vintage clothing really is not for the fan of fast fashion. That mentality goes out the window if you want to wear vintage. Here’s why…

1. Sourcing Vintage Is Time Consuming

The closest the vintage clothing marketplace has to a fashion week or Market, are vintage fairs and vintage expos such as the Santa Monica Vintage Expo and A Current Affair. These vintage marketplaces are highly curated so every piece is highly wearable. Vintage shoppers and dealers alike get to reap the benefits of someone’s hard work and dedication to find these gems. Of course the price tag will be higher – the hard work has been done.

But if you go to a flea market or thrift store, you have to do the grunt work. You have to sift through packed racks of really ugly pieces, damaged items and unwearable vintage do get the bargain basement prices.

Would you rather dig or pay someone a convenience fee for finding fabulous vintage for you?

2. Taste Level – The Eyes Have It

Anyone can source old clothing. The real talent comes when you can trust the dealer has a good eye – the unique ability to find beautiful pieces that are wearable, relevant and unique. This skill cannot be taught. No matter how many fashion books you read or how many episodes of Sex and The City you watch. Being able to pick out good vintage is a gift, like singing or painting. The best dealers have keen sense of design, construction, detail and combining history, fashion and sociology.

3.  Cleaning and Mending

It baffles me how many dealers on Ebay are able to sell “Minty” dresses. Where are these golden pots of vintage dresses? Because most of the dresses I have found need some kind of repair or restoration. A falling hem, an incorrect alteration, a tear or busted zipper. Vintage dealers have a love affair with their pieces. Each one is hard to part with because we know how special and rare they are. We want to bring them back to their glory as much as possible while still keeping a profit margin.

A dealer who is willing to clean their merchandise before selling it really cares about their customers. I wouldn’t want someone to receive a vintage dress that smelled of moth balls or nicotine. There is something to be said about customer service. It’s the equivalent of shopping at a department store that offers impeccable service, even if those jeans or that jersey dress could be purchased for less at a store with no customer service perks.

4. Scarcity

So I’m one of those kooky people that believes in the power of abundance. I firmly believe that I receive from the Universe as much as I give to the Universe. Sometimes that comes in the form of love and kindness, and other times the Universe repays me with pretty 1950s dresses! But as much as I pray that the Universe send me a lifetime couture Chanel piece,  the reality is that good vintage is being picked a feverish pace by everyone. People are going coo-coo for vintage. Great for sales, but finding good vintage is getting harder and harder. Especially for those of us who love mid-century and older vintage. So when a vintage seller can offer an array of beautiful frocks and baubles, you have to realize how difficult it was to find that piece for you.

So the next time you fall in love with a pretty, frilly thing that makes you feel like a movie star from a black and white film, don’t think twice! Grab that dress and run to the cashier before I do.


[image source: Reginas Studio – Etsy]

April 16, 2013   22 Comments

Thrifted Thursday

Lately I have been indulging in some thrifting for myself rather than for resale. I recently purchased a 1954 suburban ranch home complete with original wood pocket doors, wood cabinets, floors (all in a lovely honey colored birch) and Franciscan tiled kitchen and bathrooms. The house has only had one previous owner since it was built. The woman who lived here loved her home and kept it immaculate and in great shape.

I knew I wanted to keep the house happy and fill it with lovely mid century goodies and what a perfect excuse to hunt for vintage pieces. Because I do have a new mortgage, amongst other expenses I didn’t have in a rental, I am being very frugal. I am happy that my thrift trips have been successful…

I found these pots separately at two different thrift stores. I love how low they are. They look really great on my fireplace but I think I want to search for a mid century plant stand to show them off more like sculptures. I can’t decide if I actually want to plant real life plants in them. I’m more of a fake foliage kinda girl.

They are both marked but I can’t really make out what the markings say. I know one is marked California.

Has anyone else thrifted anything wonderful lately?



March 21, 2013   4 Comments

How to Shop at Thrift Stores

Vintage fashion lovers are constantly complaining that thrift stores are picked over and you can’t find good vintage anymore. I disagree. True, vintage isn’t as abundant as it was a decade ago, but there are still some vintage gems to be picked at thrift stores if you have a strategy. Here are my super secret tips for hitting the thrift store like a pro.

1. Have a Target in Mind

I always walk into a thrift store with a target in mind. If I am hunting for dresses I hit that department first. If i am searching for home accessories, I beeline to house wares. Get in there quick because there are always two or more pickers already there trying to beat you to the goods. This is a competitive sport!

2. Grab a Cart or Basket

It’s important to grab anything and everything that catches your eye. Thrift shopping is a very sensory experience. I can spot a quality piece of fabric at 5 steps. I once scored a 1970s Yves Saint Laurent ultrasuede dress on touch alone. I scored a 1960s framed Picasso print. I had no idea it was a Picasso print, i just loved how it looked. Grab it all and put it in your cart. You can sort later.

3. Shop on a Tuesday

I love Goodwill because they are always so clean and organized and prices are consistent. A Goodwill employee did tell me that a good day to shop is Tuesday because that is the day the put out all the weekend donations. If you shop at a very large vintage store however, every day is a good day to shop because they have to turn over that merchandise and they receive lots of donations. i really like shopping in the afternoon when a good amount of merchandise has been put out for the day.

4. Trust Your Senses and Instincts

I can’t tell you how many times I found treasures at the thrift store that I had no clue they what they were worth until I got home to do a proper Google search. Now with Smartphones, you can do this on the fly. I really trust my instinct and my eye. I firmly believe that the best vintage collectors are those that have a special gift for spotting quality. Trust your instinct – if you see a piece of jewelry, or a piece of art or a vintage dress that just grabs your attention, even if it doesn’t have a maker’s mark or designer label, grab it! Vintage shopping is very visceral. Your senses will never let you down (see #2).

5. Keep An Open Mind

You know that little church thrift store on the scary side of town? The one you just know you will have to dig through? Give it a chance. Many a rogue pieces of Chanel have been discovered in the least expected stores. Also keep an open mind about garments or housewares that you weren’t looking for or of a different era than you normally shop for. Vintage shopping is such a physical experience (see number 4). If you hate it later, resell on Ebay or donate. You will regret leaving it behind. I promise!

If you prefer the convenience of shopping online, online thrift stores might be your answer. Goodwill sells a nice variety of pieces online. I prefer hands on, but you have to admit it’s convenient.

Have any thrifting tips of your own? Share in the comments below!


[image source:]


March 18, 2013   5 Comments

Trina Turk & Mr. Turk Sample Sale

Get your California cool look on with Trina Turk and Mr. Turk’s sample sale this weekend. Bright mid century prints are perfect for the last days of summer. See you poolside!

August 20, 2012   No Comments

Valentino Couture & Debbie Harry Collection on

What do you get when you mix couture royalty with a punk rock queen? Two damn good collections on Juliana Cairone of Rare Vintage, one of the best vintage dealers in NYC, has curated a collection of choice haute couture Valentino pieces including these three dresses. The collection spans from the 1960s to the 1980s. It baffles me how one dealer can come across so many pieces from one desirable designer.

But if you are more rock n’ roll than haute coutre, then you have to check out the Debbie Harry collection from Post Script vintage on Debbie Harry is one of my style icons. The way she mixed vintage with 1970s staples like spandex and jersey. She made thrifting for your clothes an exercise in alternative fashion and runway style. Oh if I could go back to the days when you find 1940s dresses in abundance and for $1. The Debbie Harry collection features vintage 1940’s day dresses that she often wore with cowboy boots early in her career, 1930’s sheer lace dresses, a Patrik Kelly leopard stretch velvet dress, a bubble gum pink leather jacket, a two-piece chartreuse suit deigned by Steven Sprouse, and more contemporary designers such as Dolce & Gabbana, Marc Jacobs and many other custom made dresses. There’s also a Moschino pink leather guitar shaped bag. All items in the collection will be sold with pink hangtags that are signed by Debbie Harry. The prices range from $500 for many of the 1940’s day dresses to $5500 for the bubble gum pink leather jacket. A portion of all the proceeds from sales will go to the artist’s charity,

Two amazing collections at my go to site for inspiring vintage fashion. Please check them out!

September 18, 2011   No Comments

New in the SHOP!

I wanted to share with you two new dresses in the shop. The shop has been sort of quiet most of this year, but that’s about to change. I have so many exciting things I want to share with you and I am bursting. For now, here are two lovely dresses to cheer up your Tuesday after a three day weekend.

debutante clothing vintage dress

debutante clothing vintage dress

May 31, 2011   3 Comments

Vintage Event | A Current Affair April 2-3


Just in time for spring! I’ll be participating in A Current Affair, a unique vintage marketplace featuring top vintage dealers from LA and beyond. I am so excited about doing this show again. Richard Wainright and Joey Grana from Scout have created such an amazing event and have really curated the group of dealers who participate.GlamAmor will be there too. Can’t wait to hang out with Kimberly. If you haven’t been to this event yet, please GO! Saturday night will be the cocktail party. Stylish people from the vintage and fashion worlds mingle and cocktail amongst vintage Chanel, Dior, and some amazing anonymous vintage. Mention my blog and I’ll give you a friend discount.

March 14, 2011   No Comments

Vintage Style | Vintage is Not Emasculating


Watching American Pickers last night, Valentine’s Day to be precise, Mr. Debutante and I were discussing “mantiques”. Luckily, I’m not overly girly, at least I don’t think so, but I do occasionally try to convince the man of the house that hot pink tufted furniture is no reflection on his manhood. And then I discovered Manly Vintage via Thriftcore.


Manly Vintage’s mission is “to cultivate and promote the idea that style is not emasculating, that men can and do enjoy good taste, and good design is appropriate for all men, everywhere. ” I love this mantra. And it describes my husband perfectly. Athletic fit shirts and “retro sexual” style are not him at all. We constantly try to find a balance in our tastes for our home.

Manly Vintage is a perfect common ground blog for both of us. Beautiful images, gorgeous furniture, and two men’s perspectives on good design.

February 15, 2011   No Comments

Vintage Shopping | Video Interview with The Way We Wore


LA is the land of designer vintage. And no one does glamorous vintage in LA better than Doris Raymond and The Way We Wore. I got a chance to visit with Doris during her semi-annual sale going on right now.

Imagine this – Dior, YSL, Chanel, and thousands of other pieces with equally stellar names and some couture quality pieces made by anonymous hands – all for 50% off. I picked a few of my faves from the sale racks.

Check out my video interview with Doris. We chat about the sale, vintage trends and her amazing new collection of dead stock lingerie.

[

January 25, 2011   No Comments

Sign up for the newsletter to receive discounts, sneak previews, and news.