Princess Street is lined with charming, unique boutiques boasting fabulous merchandise. But many students target the same stores and it’s not unusual to see multiple ladies on campus wearing your latest purchase. One way to avoid it is to go vintage.
Downtown Kingston boasts two stores dedicated to vintage clothing. Though there are other thrift stores, such as Phase 2, that sell used clothing, these places seek out vintage pieces.
“Shopping vintage, you get something unique. It’s not like shopping at Urban Outfitters where everyone will have the same thing,” said Jo-Anne Brulé, manager of Starling Vintage Lovelies at 316 Princess St.
Starling buys most of its merchandise in Toronto.
“People like to shop vintage because it’s a fun way to shop, a fun business to work in,” Brulé said. “There’s a great ambiance in the stores.”
Starling has a cozy, intimate atmosphere. Sequins, lace, prints, furs, velvet and silks are in abundance.
Brulé identifies a purple, 50’s style velvet and silk cocktail dress with cuffs as her favourite item.
She features floor-length dresses, jackets, coats, blouses, shoes, purses, clutches, lingerie, knits and scarves, to name a few. I have had much luck in the past with their hats and costume jewellery.
Guys looking to try something vintage will find ties, suspenders, cuff links and plaid shirts.
Shoes go from $15 to$45, dresses from $20 to$60, costume jewellery is $5 each and boots from $25 to$50.
What’ll I Wear, located a few stores down is downtown Kingston’s other vintage trove.
Owner Janet Strong searches for her merchandise in estate sales and thrift shops in the small towns outside of Kingston.
Strong has been in the vintage business for 30 years and attributes the appeal of these clothes to their quality.
“Clothing was better made a long time ago. Everything was very tailored and structured. I look for natural fibres and wool,” Strong said.
My favourite item was a fur evening stole hanging next to an equally exciting sequined bolero. The coat selection is incredible.
Prices range from $1 items in their loonie bin to $100 for more one-of-a-kind pieces.
During the weeks leading up to Halloween, the store has been packed.
“You can barely move in the store,” Stong said. It’s not hard to imagine why. Aside from the potential costumes (Kimonos, leather jackets, tartans), Strong has wigs, coloured hair sprays, masks, tiaras, dramatic hats, boas and feathers. “It’s great for the creative Halloweener.”
What’ll I Wear is celebrating 16 years at its current location.
Picker’s World Market at 1473 Princess Street also has vintage clothes along with their antiques. Alley Cat Antiques at 207B Wellington Street is worth checking out as well.
Vintage shopping is fun even if you’re not quite ready to buy an antique . It’s a great way to browse for clothes without thinking about trends or whether or not someone else has it. But a little patience is required. There’s a lot to go through and sometimes sizes are small. However, chances are you’ll walk out surprised at what you found.
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