Finding The Best Vintage Clothing Buys

With holiday parties approaching, the impulse to buy a new outfit is hard to resist. To help avoid sticker shock, check out these neighborhood vintage and consignment stores. ‘Tis the season to look beautiful on a budget.

Cadillacs CastleAllison Hertzberg Cadillac’s Castle, 333 East Ninth Street.

Cadillac’s Castle
333 East Ninth Street, 212-475-0406

Named for the owner’s dog that takes inventory in the small consignment shop; this store is not to be missed. Mostly in-season women’s consignment items are displayed alongside some new stock in this clean, bright shop. The owner and his staff carefully select each item and I’ve never seen anything in less than pristine condition. Mind if I namedrop? At any one time you’re likely to find fashions from Jason Wu, Prada, Diane Von Furstenberg, YSL, Mui Mui and Missoni. The high end designer pieces carry a weighty though heavily discounted price tag, but it’s easy to find a great party dress for under $75 dollars. Even the most budget conscience can score a
deal, just check out the constantly replenished $25 dollar rack that sits outside the store.

Fabulous Fannys HatsAllison Hertzberg Hats at Fabulous Fanny’s, 335 East Ninth Street.

Fabulous Fanny’s
335 East Ninth Street, 212-533-0637

If you’re in the market for vintage frames, Fabulous Fanny’s is the place to go. Helpful staff offer assistance but don’t harp on you. They also steer you towards which glasses fit your face, not the pair that will get them the biggest sale. I snagged a great pair of 1960’s cat eye frames for $60 bucks, but most are in the lower $100s. A case in the back holds “not for sale” specs that have Lady Gaga written all over them. The vintage apparel and accessories room plays second fiddle to the eyewear but should not be overlooked. Great selection of vintage hats and needlepoint purses can be found at moderate prices. The store gets packed during weekends and finding your pair can be a tight squeeze, so go during the day or on a weeknight.

No Relation VintageAllison Hertzberg No Relation Vintage, 204 First Avenue.

No Relation Vintage
204 First Avenue, 212-228-5201

Ah, the musty smell of vintage, it’ll never come out of that leather jacket, you know….but the dresses in the back section are worth a second look and a dry cleaning. This is your overwhelming neighborhood vintage store, but also the most affordable. On a recent visit I found a wedding dress new with tags for $50 dollars, retail price $800 dollars. If you’re not quite looking for “the dress” most other dresses are $15 dollars. $7 dollar button downs, $25 dollars military jackets and an abundance of plaid will keep you looking great without breaking the bank. If you’re up for digging and perhaps a tailoring job your efforts will be rewarded.

Buffalo ExchangeAllison Hertzberg The selection at Buffalo Exchange, 332 East 11th Street.

Buffalo Exchange
332 East 11th Street, 212-260-9340

Manhattan got its Buffalo outpost back in 2008 and the neighborhood has been a little bit brighter ever since. This store is popular not only to shop at, but to sell at. The rules are that you get 50 percent of the sale price to be used to make an in store purchase, or 30 percent of the sale price in cash. Since the stock varies from day to day it’s usually hit or miss, but always worth a quick visit. I’ve seen stylists drop in to sell items from photo shoots or people who work in fashion unload garbage bags full of designer goods. The store is always looking for in season, on trend merchandise (most often from Forever21, H&M etc.) so before you buy a new winter wardrobe clean out your closets and use your trade in your credit for some new duds.

Rue St. DenisAllison Hertzberg Rue St. Denis, 170 Avenue B.

Rue St. Denis
170 Avenue B, 212-260-3388

The owner of Rue St. Denis knows his vintage. This well-curated shop is mostly comprised of dead stock items so they’ve never been worn, meaning that musty vintage smell is no longer your enemy. I’ve heard that musicians stop by for performance outfits and I can see why. Rue St. Denis is one of the best vintage shops for men’s clothing and shoes. The clothes are imported from all over Europe as well as the U.S. Quality like this doesn’t come cheap but for the true collector this shop is worth the visit.

Allison Hertzberg is owner and head designer at Accessories By ASH.