What fashion statement do True Blood actress Kristin Bauer, White House Chief of Protocol Capricia Penavic Marshall and Grammy-winner Adele have in common? All are fans of the stunning vintage dresses that are up for grabs here in Portland.
And why not? Portland boasts nearly 50 vintage shops, offering up meticulously curated — and constantly updated — collections of costume jewelry, traditionally tailored suits and, of course, racks upon racks of dresses that span the decades — a bounty that has fashion-savvy visitors stuffing their suitcases to the weight limit with our secondhand goodies.
“The Portland vintage scene is thriving,” says Liz Gross, owner of Xtabay Vintage Clothing Boutique, one of the town’s hottest resale boutiques. “And people from all over the world seem to know about it.” (In fact, Xtabay has outfitted Bauer and Marshall for high-profile events, along with still more celebrities like Carrie Brownstein from Portlandia.) Gross, who started her fancy frock shop in 2001, credits Portland’s reasonable rents and abundance of estate sales and thrift shops for creating the buzz.
So what’s the key to scoring big on your own time-travel shopping trip? Gross advises going slowly and enjoying the thrill of the hunt — and having “a hell of a lot of tenacity.”
Knowing where to go helps, too. Here are eight shops that are sure to leave with you with a case of vintage fever from head to toe.
The large collection of slick suits, dapper hats, watches, cuff links and tie bars makes Avalon Antiques and Vintage Clothes the ideal destination for dudes looking to get their Frank Sinatra on. Ladies will find lots of options, too.
With dozens of unique vintage diamond rings, costume jewelry and Bakelite bangles, Gem Set Love is a go-to spot for the about-to-be- engaged or anyone desiring the title of “Best Gift-Giver Ever.”
Portlanders covet old-school Pendleton pieces. Luckily, Animal Traffic devotes an entire rack to the wool purveyor’s duds for both ladies and gents and has locations in downtown’s West End and on North Mississippi Avenue.
Scope out the ultimate geek-chic accessory — eyeglasses — among more than 1,000 pieces of clothes and accessories from the 1920s to now at Hollywood Vintage.
Revamp your record collection (or create one) with a visit to Crossroads Music, a Southeast Portland landmark. The 20-year-old shop boasts 35 vendors selling every musical genre under the sun.
The Rock n’ Rose sources their vintage duds strictly in-state. Browse racks of perfectly faded tees and watch for musicians wandering in from the neighboring Doug Fir Lounge.
No trip through Portland’s style hall of fame is complete without a stop at Magpie, which, unlike most other shops, carries children’s pieces. If you think full-size vintage is cool, wait till you see it miniaturized.