For the fashionista with a unique sense of style, vintage evening dresses are the perfect fit: timeless, long-lasting, and inimitable, these bits of design history are superior alternatives to mass-market clothing. Finding the perfect vintage dress may require certain determination, but the culmination of a well-researched quest will add infinite elegance and panache to your wardrobe.
The Lucky Store Directory is an in-the-know list of the best boutiques across the country. Editors from the shopping magazine have already scouted out the retail destinations of major cities and suburban Meccas, compiling an easy-to-use guide. While the Lucky Store Directory is a compendium of both new and vintage shops, this resource can point you toward your closest purveyor of vintage eveningwear.
Nationally, thrift stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army can house unexpected vintage gems. While the inventory at either of these chains is hit-or-miss, it is not unheard of to uncover a fabulous frock for $20 or even less. Local benefit stores, such as those linked to organizations like the Junior League or New York City Opera, are a go-to source for society belles looking to clean out their closets. Some charity outlets are incredibly picky about their stock, so you’ll be more likely to find items of higher quality when you shop.
As a general rule of thumb, the swankier the neighborhood of where you’re shopping, the more desirable the clothing will be. High-traffic areas of large cities may have fantastic finds, but more customers are likely to be hunting for the same deals as you. Check out posh suburban neighborhoods for vintage cast offs: the competition for an evening gown is likely to be less fierce in Westport, CT than in midtown Manhattan.
Online, several internet boutiques carry lovingly-preserved vintage dresses. TheFrock.com sells an expertly-curated selection of gowns from the 1800s to the mid-20th century. At any given time, you may be able to find an Oleg Cassini, Christian Dior, or Oscar de la Renta creation, as well as items from Lucille Ball’s and Eva Gabor’s personal collections. ModCloth.com is a popular site for both vintage and vintage-inspired fashion. The offerings on this web store change constantly, but if you regularly browse its vintage section, you may be able to snag an alluring ensemble. Goodwill has its own online storefront. Goodwill outlets often list their best merchandise on this site. Although the offerings are not as extensive as on some other internet portals, the chance to score a vintage deal is promising.
If you’re willing to put more time into your quest, chances are, great gowns are just outside your door. Visit local yard sales, antique stores, auctions, and estate sales. Ask your favorite tailor or seamstress for shopping tips. If you prefer to do your research online, look into special sections on Ebay as well as Craigslist. Internet discussion boards devoted to the topics of vintage fashion are also great resources for locating nearby retailers of evening gowns.
With some time and tenacity, you’ll be guaranteed to find the vintage dress to make you look like a sophisticated style siren.