Forget 2017 and take a step back in time when the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show & Sale returns Friday. Held three times a year, the oldest and largest vintage apparel and accessory show in the country returns with more than 80 designers and an estimated 150,000 pieces for sale.
The show attracts shoppers mostly looking for items to stock their own closets, but there’s a good cluster of costume designers, fashion designers and vintage sellers all professionally seeking vintage goods, according to co-director David Ornstein.
Everything from Victorian dresses to flapper gowns to furs (which Ornstein predicts will be somewhat discounted, as it’s later in the season) will be available, along with a substantial stock of ’70s, ’80s and ’90s apparel, which has inspired current trends.
In the lobby, a special exhibit, “Jean-Paul Gaultier: Lingerie Through The Ages,” will showcase original, vintage lingerie-inspired pieces by the iconic designer, which will later be sold online. Pieces reflecting the lingerie styles will also be sold throughout the show.
So, how do you start filling your closet with the styles of days past? “Don’t be afraid to try something on,” Ornstein said. “When you’re buying vintage, there are just so many different styles and silhouettes, if you give it a little bit of effort you’ll find something that looks good on you.” And in case you feel stuck deciding between sweaters or handbags, Ornstein mentioned that the more you buy, the more negotiable things are.
Meika Franz, of Another Man’s Treasure, has sold at the show every season for nine years, and will be returning with a mix of vintage designer pieces and rare antique ones. “The great thing about vintage is that you can be in the past, present and future of fashion all at once,” she said.
For first-timers she recommends coming without expectations and just having fun. “Sometimes it’s best to just let the pieces speak to you,” Franz said. “Wait for the pieces that really grab you, it’s like going to a museum where you can touch everything.” If you do see something you like, buy it, because pieces are known to sell fast.
If you’re feeling uncertain about a piece, Franz encourages asking a vendor why an item is priced a certain way, what the collectability and resale value is, if the piece has been cleaned and if they know any other facts about its history or previous owners.
“Vendors will be happy to share that information,” she said. “When you buy something vintage, you’re investing your money.”
And if buyer’s remorse hits, there’s always your local consignment shop. Or eBay.