Rolling through history at the Manhattan Vintage showI have worn and collected vintage fashion since my pre-teen years. Back in the 80s there was an abundance of vintage clothing stores in NYC and north NJ. Today, there are fewer brick and mortar stores and more burgeoning online shops. There has always been a demand for vintage fashion, however, there has been a resurgence within the past 10 years. It’s now on trend to mix vintage pieces with contemporary wear. One example is the hodgepodge of vintage and modern fashion that Sarah Jessica Parker wears in “Sex and the City.” Other examples of this eclectic styling can be seen on the devoteés of the cruise for Steam Punk fashion, the Jazz Age lawn party on Governor’s Island, NY as well as the way celebrity stylists dress their A-list clients. The Rockabilly fashion community is immersed in retro culture as their homes, clothing and cars seem to be plucked from “Leave it to Beaver.”

Steam punk, Rockabilly and Jazz Age Vintage enthusiasts

1. Steampunk enthusiasts – Photo credit: Piotr Redlinski for the NY Times  2. Jazz Age enthusiasts – Photo credit: Marcus Kalina   3. Rockabilly enthusiasts – Photo credit: Jennifer Greenburg – View many more of her beautiful photos. She even has a Rockabilly photo book out on Amazon.

It is thrilling to see such enthusiasm in collecting what history has left for us. Vintage artifacts need to be lovingly handled, nurtured and restored. We live in a “fast fashion” disposable society. The need for the latest and the hottest is satiated with a $25 dress from H&M which then languishes in the back of the closet next to other fast fashion impulse items with price tag still attached. The reason why I purchase vintage fashion is for the quality, fit and style. The details are outstanding, for example, unique rhinestone buttons on many sweater and jacket closures. Clothing, in the past, was well made and meant to last. Today, this quality is obtainable but with a hefty price tag. Thankfully, we have many options to purchase vintage fashion.

Lilly Pulitzer exhibit Manhattan Vintage Show

A Lilly Pulitzer display was set up at the entrance of the show. After a long NY winter, this colorful arrangement was the perfect antidote to welcome me into spring. Lilly died last April, leaving a legacy of preppy, cheerful prints.

The show hosts about 90 vendors who come from all over the USA and sell clothing and textiles from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. I spoke to many of the vendors and found them knowledgeable and eager to discuss the history of their merchandise. Though it was crowded, people were courteous and friendly. Many came equipped with rolling suitcases to cart their purchases. Most notably, I enjoyed seeing the stylish shoppers, who were not only colorful but approached their style with a sense of humor. This is one of the many reasons I love NY–the creativity, exuberance and fashion sense of people.

Orange Courreges Coat

I never get tired of Courreges. This orange coat made me smile, but it was out of my price range.

Vintage moschino with red heart button

My beloved Moschino. Aren’t the heart buttons to die for? All the flowers are meticulously embroidered.

Rhinestone brooches at Manhattan Vintage show

Rhinestone brooches. The world is a happier place with objects that sparkle.

1940s vintage straw hat at Manhattan Vintage show

I am grinning like an elf because I bought this straw elf-like 1940s hat from Vintage with a Twist.

Mod inspired purse and beanie

Mod inspired beanie and bag. What a cheerful pairing. All I need is white patent leather go-go boots.

I spent 2.5 hours in a mad dash to get through every rack, so I could beat the rush hour traffic to drive back home. I suggest allocating 3-4 hours to shop and examine the breadth of the offerings. Bring bottled water since the one vendor on site sells water for $2. Alternatively, if you are hungry and need a good cup of coffee, walk a few doors down and visit the Telegraphe Cafe, a mom and pop coffee shop.

There was so much I wanted to buy, but I set some personal limits. There was a 1950s leopard jacket with big black buttons in mint condition which still recurs in my dreams. At $600, this would eat up my entire budget for the day. So instead, I caressed it and whispered “I hope I see you in October. If not, bring a relative when I come back.”

Denyses Closet

Denyse’s Closet – This vendor was so charming and helpful. I purchased a red patent leather rain coat with mint leopard lining from her.

Red coat that I purchased from Denyse's Closet and my fab new straw hat.

Red coat that I purchased from Denyse’s Closet and my fab new straw hat.

Heather Ramey of Noble Savage Vintage

Heather Ramey of Noble Savage Vintage.

Vintage Chanel and more

Paradox Designs Vintage

Theo Banzon of Paradox Designs was the most hilarious and fun of all the vendors. How amazing are his shoes?

Lynn Yaeger at manhattan Vintage Show

Fashion celebrity sighting: Lynn Yaeger contributing editor of Vogue magazine.

Timothy John

I met artist Timothy John at last year’s Easter Hat Parade in NYC.

In any case, I had a marvelous time and left with a beautiful hat and red patent leather rain coat. My mom, who accompanied me on this jaunt, scored red leather cowboy boots and a 1970s lace sheer black tunic. Perfect outfit for a Fleetwood Mac concert.

The Manhattan Vintage Show returns in October, so don’t forget to visit their website and sign up for a reminder. Come October, I will scour the show for vintage hat boxes, since my collection is growing exponentially. Eventually, I may need to hang my hats on vintage meat hooks from every ceiling in my house.

See you in six months, vintage loves.