The Clothing Warehouse
8 Prince St., nr. Bowery 212-343-1967
Though some prefer their denim raw, pristine, and scratchy-stiff, others believe that jeans, like wine and William Shatner, improve with age. For the latter crowd, the dresser drawers at this year-and-a-half-old spot are pay dirt, each packed with over 50 neatly rolled pairs of classic Levi’s 501s from the late seventies through the nineties ($46). Every button-fly pair is one-of- a-kind in its degree of wear, wash, and weatheredness.
Scout Vintage TShirts
227 Mulberry St., nr. Prince St.; 212-966-3828
The deservedly popular trove of color-sorted, gently timeworn cotton tees (both iconic and ironic) lets you sift through hundreds of wearable mementos from bar mitzvahs, family reunions, fraternity socials, bachelorette parties, company picnics, sports teams both pro and am, and metal concerts from the seventies through the nineties. (Recent finds: “Poland Humor for Peace”; “Official Beer Drinker: Summer Olympics 1984.”) And though the rarest band tees fetch up to $200, the average short-sleeve here is around $25.
Urban Jungle Vintage
120 Knickerbocker Ave., nr. Flushing Ave., Bushwick 718-381-8510
This aptly named chaparral of a thrift store is one of two separate but equally grimy neighboring Bushwick storefronts. Skip the neon-lit, linoleumed spot on the corner of Thames Avenue in favor of the darker, concrete-lined warehouse between Flushing and Thames. You’ll find hundreds of plaid shirts in every imaginable style and combo, all priced from $7 to $10.
Fox & Fawn
570 Manhattan Ave., nr. Driggs Ave., Greenpoint; 718-349-9510
A customer base equally divided between slouchy twentysomethings and older Polish ladies seems tailor-made to appreciate the quirky coolness of Fox & Fawn’s eighties- and nineties-era stock. Dress prices are mostly under $20, with flimsy cotton prints, jersey tunics, and poly-nylon blends sharing racks with low-priced gems: Recent finds include a Marc Jacobs maxi-dress ($39.95), a camel-colored Cynthia Steffe shift ($24.95), a plaid Trovata number ($22.95), and a navy Nanette Lepore frock ($34.95).
13 W. 17th St., nr. Fifth Ave., second fl.; 212-206-1644
This apartment turned shop has all the hallmarks of a badly kept secret: a hard-to-find entrance (a red chiffon dress flapping from the fire escape marks the spot), unusual hours (Wednesdays and Thursdays 5 to 10 p.m.; Saturday noon to 6 p.m.), and a huge selection of well-priced dresses (most hovering between $30 and $90), bought on both coasts by L.A. collector Shareen Mitchell. There are no fitting rooms and a “no boys allowed” policy, leaving shoppers to unabashedly try on garments in front of clerks and strangers.
170 Elizabeth St., nr. Kenmare St.; 212-594-5380
Most of the gowns at this immaculate boutique would look just as comfortable on a contemporary red carpet as in Betty Draper’s closet. Though there’s a row of all-black in the back—from elaborate lace overlays to bustier minidresses—the truly swoon-worthy pieces are the vividly preserved prints: a tea-length charmeuse Oscar de la Renta ($595); a slim, coral-print Thierry Mugler ($825); a floral Emanuel Ungaro with an intricately ruched bodice ($625).
Fille de Joie
197 Grand St., nr. Driggs Ave., Williamsburg; 718-599-3525
French collector C. C. McGurr embraces a very different sort of undergarment from the pushed-up and padded unmentionables of today: sheer European styles from the twenties to the eighties found on regular trips to France. Her wildly adorned shop overflows with satin, lace, and silk bras, panties, negligees, slips, garter belts, and robes, including Victorian-era corsets (from $150), pinup-worthy forties teddies (from $85), and—McGurr’s favorite—barely-there styles from the eighties (from $55).
143 E. 13th St., nr. Third Ave. 212-505-2505
This impeccably maintained shop (a source of inspiration for merchandisers at Ralph Lauren and J.Crew) is an under-the-radar haven for scholarly cardigans and letterman jackets. Owner Melissa Howard scours estate sales and auctions across the Midwest and East Coast for school-branded knit hats ($85), patch-adorned coarse-wool sweaters (from $145), and mascot-printed sweatshirts (from $145).
96 St. Marks Pl., nr. First Ave. 212-477-7334
The St. Marks mainstay is packed with over 100 styles of shirts for the urban cowperson—a mix of sun-faded cotton, polyester, and rare gabardine garments from the sixties and seventies ($30 to $55). Owner Ilana Malka makes weekly trips to secret wholesalers in Brooklyn and elsewhere to replenish her colorful supply of slim-collar button-ups in standard plaid and prints.
The Family Jewels
130 W. 23rd St., nr. Sixth Ave. 212-633-6020
For those who share Isabella Blow’s belief in the transformative qualities of a fabulous hat, owner Lillyan Peditto has been curating her store’s collection for the past three decades, unearthing wide-brims, cloches, and pillboxes (from $30) from private collectors throughout the country.
Kill Devil Hill
170 Franklin St., nr. Java St., Greenpoint; 347-534-3088
Best known for its vintage oddities (skulls, antlers, thirties housewares, homemade soap), the Greenpoint store is also a stellar source for workwear from the fifties and sixties. Every few months, owner Mary Brockman goes on road trips to cities like Buffalo and Detroit and collects small batches of durable, functional garb, from heavy-duty canvas mechanics’ overalls ($65) to long-sleeve cotton-jersey undershirts (from $30) to wool-trimmed denim jackets (from $60).
Printed Skirts and Tops
33-06 31st Ave., nr. 33rd St., Astoria; 718-728-4057
A standout in Astoria’s burgeoning boutique scene, in no small part because of its pieces’ up-to-date fit. Though original to the sixties, seventies, and eighties, most blouses and skirts in stripes, plaids, florals, animal prints, polka dots, and paisleys are slightly tailored in-house before being placed on the racks. And the markup is fair: Rarely does any item command more than $50.
109 Boerum Pl., nr. Pacific St., Boerum Hill; 718-522-7962
“Vintage” and “plus size” are typically oxymoronic, but this two-year-old, 3,000-square-foot boutique devotes a third of its space to vintage clothing for sizes ten and up. Mostly sourced from thrift shops in West Palm Beach by owner Deb Malkin, the selection skews toward bright hues and flashy prints from the seventies and eighties; think floral dresses (from $45), sequin-spangled jackets (from $40), and neon eighties leather pieces (from $50).
Doyle & Doyle
189 Orchard St., nr. Houston St. 212-677-9991
Sisters and jewelry-industry vets Elizabeth and Pamela Doyle take an open-minded approach to antique jewelry. A smorgasbord of Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian, Art Deco, Art Nouveau, and retro pieces fill the shop’s glass display cases, and the Doyles encourage buyers to wear a mix of time periods. Current standouts include a pearl-and-onyx locket ($1,800), compass cuff links made from World War II buttons ($1,150), and a sapphire engagement ring from the twenties ($21,500).
For the Thrift Enthusiast
Council Thrift Shop
246 E. 84th St., nr. Second Ave. 212-439-8373
This Upper East Side thrift store, run by the National Council of Jewish Women, is more prodigiously stocked and reasonably priced than just about any other designer-castoff-monger in town. Of course, there’s a catch: Competition for the best stuff can be fierce (especially at the seasonal inventory swap-out, which prompts serious buyers to line up for hours in advance). Recent discoveries include a sixties Hermès bag ($900), a red Chanel pocketbook ($325), a Valentino blouse ($25), a blue knit Yves Saint Laurent blazer ($125), and—no joke—a nineties YSL jacket for $30.
For the Thrift-Averse
360 Atlantic Ave., nr. Hoyt St., Boerum Hill; 347-987-3470
Christina Kolbe runs her airy, organized store for the shopper who likes the vintage look but not the digging that often comes with it. Her well-edited selection is rotated daily based on season and current trends. At the moment, you’ll find racks of Ungaro suits, sixties tunic-dresses, calf-length skirts, fur shawls, and seventies high-waisted jeans.
Dear Rivington +
95 Rivington St., at Ludlow St. 212-673-3494
Moon Rhee and Heyja Do, formerly of the Harold & Maude vintage showroom, opened up this minimalist white space on the Lower East Side last year, selling their personal collection of deadstock and gently worn vintage Japanese clothing. Signature pieces include major Japanese designers like Comme des Garçons, Yohji Yamamoto, and Issey Miyake, as well as smaller cult labels.
David Owens Vintage Clothing
154 Orchard St., nr. Stanton St. 212-677-3301
Near the cash register is the sharpest collection of cashmere button-ups since fifties suburbia. On the other side of the store, there’s a pileup of grandpa-style cardigans in rich camels, cool navy blues, and fresh pastels. The old-school sweaters bear labels like Pringle of Scotland, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bergdorf Goodman. Their prices, however, are more like Uniqlo.
335 E. 9th St., nr. First Ave. 212-533-0637
Though famous for its huge eyewear cache, Fabulous Fanny’s men’s-hat collection deserves equal recognition. Scattered between the main store and its next-door annex, the inventory includes early-twentieth-century bowlers and mid-century boaters and fedoras, some of which are used, others never worn (from $50).
104 Rivington St., nr. Ludlow St. 212-979-9992
The selection of designer shoes is consistently great, the prices consistently fair: Chanel loafers are marked $155; Valentino sandals and Céline flats go for $165; and deadstock python Carlos Falchis from the eighties are $165. Boots date mostly to the seventies and eighties, with equestrian styles commanding a couple hundred bucks and booties marked around $150.
518 Court St., nr. Nelson St., Carroll Gardens; 646-256-5041
Though there’s solid apparel for women and kids, too, owner Nadia Tarr’s men’s wool coats are this fall’s standouts. Look out for classic styles from the forties to the seventies from classic labels, including plaid Pendletons (from $65), mid-century buffalo plaid coats from Woolrich ($125 to $245), and Johnson Woolen Mills hunting jackets ($125 to $245).
Pippin Vintage Jewelry
112 W. 17th St., nr. Sixth Ave. 212-505-5159
The easy-to-miss Pippin is something of a jewelry lover’s playground, loaded as it is with costume baubles like a mid-nineteenth-century aquamarine-and-eighteen-karat-gold brooch set ($2,750); stainless-steel Movado watches from the eighties ($435); sixties Christian Dior enamel cuff links ($85); and Salvatore Ferragamo pins ($48 each)—plus an unmissable $5 bargain drawer.
19 Prince St., nr. Elizabeth St. 212-334-2210
The men’s branch of the designer consignment empire carries a small and unlauded selection of vintage ties (from $75). INA’s buyers are notoriously picky, purchasing only top-notch pieces by the most venerable designers. Instead of Brooks Brothers castoffs, you’ll find an Hermès silk tie in a quirky skier print; a burgundy-and-green-striped number from Fendi; and a horseshoe-print Christian Dior.
Contributors: Jillian Goodman, Aja Mangum, Lauren Murrow, Christine Whitney, Bifen Xu.