A former intern at Vogue and vintage aficionado, Meryl Reynolds is a buyer for Clothing Warehouse in Savannah, GA and has just launched her own vintage line, Lockwood Vintage. I’ve always admired Meryl’s distinctive eye and ability to select incredibly unique vintage pieces. As both a vintage expert and a stylist, it’s always a treat to go shopping with her. On a recent excursion throughout some of NYC’s best vintage stores, I had the opportunity to ask her a few questions and thought I’d share her advice:
When did your love for vintage begin? What inspires you most about vintage shopping?
My love for vintage began in high school. I grew up with a passion for fashion design but could never afford the high-end labels I dreamt about. Thus thrifting gave me an alternative to finding beautiful and unique pieces. Vintage shopping is so inspirational to me for that very reason. It allows you to stand out and wear something original and at a great price, plus its a great way to recycle and keep old clothes out of our land fills.
What are some general tips when approaching vintage shopping?
My general tips to vintage shopping include this: do research online and see what other people have to say at stores (quality, price, etc…) explore those with great reviews and also any hole in the wall stores you come across – those are where I find the best treasures. Also look for quality pieces and watch out for stains, un-mendable tears and if you are looking for vintage furs make sure the coat looks healthy (not a lot of shedding, bald spots).
What is a reasonable budget? How much should you expect to pay?
As far as prices go… don't be afraid to ask some smaller independent stores if they'd be willing to haggle on a price if you feel something is priced too high. Have a budget you would personally spend on a skirt or other piece of clothing and go from there. You will find a piece in your budget if you keep on searching. (Keep an eye out for colored tag sales though!) Sometimes certain items can be up to 50% off and that is where you can score some real deals.
A good way to check for quality is to thoroughly explore the piece. Feel the fabric, look for labels and find what it might be made out of (cotton, poly-blend etc), and be sure to check for stains and tears. Also be sure to look for details regarding the quality of the garment (such as hand sewn or if it has lining). Don’t buy anything if you’re unsure about its quality, especially if you’re investing in a piece you want it to last forever.
What is your favorite vintage piece of clothing that you own in your closet?
My favorite piece of vintage clothing has to be this fabulous black dress from the 1950's. It is very tight, three quarter length sleeves and has a beautiful boat-neck collar with little black bow details. (Think Cher from “mermaids”!) It is a beautiful quality piece, fits to perfection, and was one of my greatest deals price wise and quality wise!
How do you style vintage items into your wardrobe and current trends?
Styling vintage with new pieces is the best part about shopping vintage. So many designers take inspiration from vintage pieces that often times, you can find garments that are ‘in trend’ with a current collection. I tend to buy very versatile with basic pieces and dress them up with unique vintage pieces. For example, a basic black pencil skirt with a vintage top and jewelry can be a perfect work attire solution, or a vintage dress with amazing designer heels will stand out at any party. It is all about mixing it up but still being true to your individual style. Don’t be shy about taking scissors and a needle and thread to a garment! (And if you are, take it to a tailor and get it perfected!)
Are there any other insider tips can you share with us?
Keep a journal and write down the places you've found that you love. Vintage clothes come and go so you always to keep up with your favorite stores to see what is new. Also, I'd reccomend making a wish list for pieces you are looking for and try to be as specefic as possible. For example, if you are looking for a pair of vintage black boots that lace up- don't just buy any pair. Half the fun is being patient and waiting for the right ones to come along.