A Guide to Vintage Shopping in New Hampshire

How to style vintage clothes and where to find them



The writer in a vintage dress from Colonial Antique Market in West Lebanon ($75). She has worn this versatile piece throughout the seasons and for many special occasions. The addition of the leather belt and socks with heels assists in making this look feel contemporary.

Photo by Morgan Karanasios

Fashion designers often draw inspiration from vintage clothing, and it’s these same styles setting the trends we see on the runway. With these resources, tips and scores from the 60th New Hampshire Antiques Show (part of NH Antiques Week, August 6-12), you’ll be ahead of the game.


Tips for Vintage Outfit Shopping

1. Don’t forget about tailoring. Tailoring is one of the most liberating ideas in fashion. When considering whether you need to purchase those vintage Levi 401 jeans that are slightly too big but otherwise perfect,  just remember that it’s a blessing in disguise. Once the tailor is finished with them, they’ll fit you like a dream. Think of your local tailor as a fashion hero.

2. Get creative with fabric choice. Sometimes when vintage shopping, I find a special item with great fabric, but I’m not really interested in the style of the garment itself. Usually I’ll pick it up anyway and reimagine the fabric as a different clothing item. Once I stumbled across a prom dress with some of the most beautiful fabric I’d ever seen, although I was less than impressed with the style. I used the fabric to make a pair of shorts, which I can never wear without being inundated with comments like “Where did you get those shorts?”

3. Three words: mix it up. Introduce some blatantly contradicting elements to your outfit, like a vintage prom dress with a pair of Nike sneakers, or a sequin skirt with a T-shirt. Such blatant contradictions often help “dress down” your look, making a vintage piece of clothing that otherwise may be too formal a little more casual and wearable. Keep this tip in mind when mixing eras or old and new garments. 

4. Prices are not always set in stone. Don’t be afraid to ask dealers and vendors to work with you if you’re on a budget. Many vintage clothing dealers are also willing to consign or trade items.

5. You can often find vintage pieces in unconventional places. The Salvation Army, flea markets, thrift stores and vintage bazaars are good bets. These places are often hit or miss, so it’s best to frequent them often for the most special finds.

6. Wear contemporary hair and makeup. That takes it from costume to fashion.


Vintage Shopping Resources

New Hampshire stores with great vintage clothing options

Old as Adam
33 Ceres St., Portsmouth
(603) 661-9373
Men’s fashion, accessories, haberdashery and ephemera

Vintage Label Co.
Traveling boutique, Dublin and surrounding area, Americana ’40s, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s

Lilise Designer Resale
113 Storrs St., Concord
(603) 715-2009
Vintage Chanel and designer labels

Brie’s Boutique
960 Sagamore Ave., Portsmouth
(603) 431-3000
Vintage selection, shoes and accessories

Lady Pickwick’s in collaboration with Cotillion Bureau
60 State St., Portsmouth
(603) 427-8671
Vintage boutique with women’s vintage clothing, specialty items and accessories

My Girlfriends Consignment Boutique
1 Mill St., Exeter
(603) 772-1998
Vintage clothing, accessories, shoes and more

Potato Barn Antiques
960 Lancaster Rd., Lancaster
(603) 636-2611
Period vintage clothing and accessories, hats, costume jewelry and antiques

RS Butler’s Trading Company
Antique Alley, 102 First NH Tpke., Northwood
(603) 942-8210
Antiques, vintage vinyl, clothing and more

Lonesome Woods
2165 Main St., Bethlehem
(603) 991-1513
Men and women’s Americana with a Southwestern influence, shoes and accessories

Annual Clothing Swap at the Portsmouth Public Library
175 Parrot Ave., Portsmouth
(603) 427-1540
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Come with a bag of clean, gently used clothing and accessories, and leave with a bag of new-to-you items.

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