Vintage shops are scattered throughout the city’s neighborhoods, but you can hit the best of them in a day. Start in neighborly Noe Valley at Vendima, where Day-Glo-style sixties bikinis ($24) lure shoppers into the ground-floor Victorian. The store’s signature fifties lamé “fairy’’ lamp isn’t for sale, but you can pick up Charles Jourdan slingbacks with gold-sequined heels ($78) or a sixties shocking-pink “death dress” with nine-inch slits up the sides ($78). The glass case in front of the register holds an assortment of Bakelite jewelry (from $35 to $200).
Next, scoot over to the Castro district, where Fashion Exchange (2215 Market St.; 415-861-9999) is a drop zone for knockout drag-queen wear. A mix of cheap and outrageous no-name goods (zebra-print pants and size-10 red stiletto sandals) join top-quality designerwear (including a Cavalli three-toned suede jacket for $500). There’s also an impressive assortment of fake Gucci and Prada bags. (The real stuff’s on the walls and behind the counter.)
A former Haight Street head shop turned dressy boutique, La Rosa Vintage (1711 Haight St.; 415-668-3744), is one of the best spots in town to pick up a beaded Bob Mackie evening gown ( $795) or a red Valentino day dress ($150). Cris Consignment (2056 Polk St.; 415-474-1191) in Nob Hill, has a more toned-down feel, with standard-issue black sweaters from Banana Republic alongside racks of fabulous couture.