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
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
Vintage Chanel and designer labels
960 Sagamore Ave., Portsmouth
Vintage selection, shoes and accessories
Lady Pickwick’s in collaboration with Cotillion Bureau
60 State St., Portsmouth
Vintage boutique with women’s vintage clothing, specialty items and accessories
My Girlfriends Consignment Boutique
1 Mill St., Exeter
Vintage clothing, accessories, shoes and more
Potato Barn Antiques
960 Lancaster Rd., Lancaster
Period vintage clothing and accessories, hats, costume jewelry and antiques
RS Butler’s Trading Company
Antique Alley, 102 First NH Tpke., Northwood
Antiques, vintage vinyl, clothing and more
2165 Main St., Bethlehem
Men and women’s Americana with a Southwestern influence, shoes and accessories
Annual Clothing Swap at the Portsmouth Public Library
175 Parrot Ave., Portsmouth
Come with a bag of clean, gently used clothing and accessories, and leave with a bag of new-to-you items.