Vintage clothes shopping in Glasgow and Edinburgh
It’s sometimes difficult to get the fashions just right but Nicola Paul discovers going back is the way forward
It's always slightly embarrassing when someone compliments you on your jacket and asks where it's from, and you find yourself replying with ‘Actually, it cost a tenner from Primark’, only to then spot two others across the bar wearing the very same one. On the other hand, there is something very satisfying about saying ‘Oh, this old thing? It's vintage, darling’. Even though it probably cost the same, it feels a million times better.
Vintage came into a fashion a few years ago now, helped along no end by Kate Moss and Sienna Miller, and it shows no signs of disappearing thanks to the proliferation of young celebrities like Alexa Chung and Fearne Cotton who somehow manage to look fantastic wearing a dress that cost a fiver. Not only that, but in these purse-pinching times vintage shopping has become a welcome alternative to the glut of cut-price high street stores selling products en-mass.
If you're keen to stick to the High Street, try Topshop or Urban Outfitters, or shop online at the likes of www.queensofvintage.com for your fix. If you're in the mood for some serious rummaging, try the stores below for a celeb-worthy vintage look.
Across in Edinburgh, Armstrong’s is the original (and to some still the best). The capital’s largest vintage store, it stocks clothing from every decade right back to the Victorian era. It’s also great for costume ideas, but be warned – its wares don’t come cheap.
Charity shops can be a bit hit-and-miss at times – and quite often end in disappointment. But one charity is cashing in on the trend, and you can now do retro with a heart at Barnardo’s Vintage. Indulge in vintage evening dresses, designer pieces and accessories without a guilty conscience.
Elsewhere in Edinburgh, walking into Herman Brown is like stumbling into a massive dressing-up box – there are glass cases overflowing with sparkling gems and piles upon piles of glittering handbags, silky scarves and glamorous gowns that will satisfy any magpie. Godiva is now an established fashion community, selling a strong mix of vintage pieces and up-and-coming designer one-offs. Situated across from the College of Art, it has forged strong links with its students to produce one very stylish boutique.
Chic & Unique specialises in jewellery and accessories, selling everything from tiaras to cuff-links to perfume bottles. Prices vary, so there's something so suit all budgets, and it’s a great place for vintage gifts. Twist Clothing is a bit out of the way but still worth a visit – chances are its stock won't have been pillaged quite as much as the shops in the city centre often are.
In Glasgow, the city’s West End has long been hailed as a haven for all vintage shopaholics. Circa Vintage is a treasure trove of antique and vintage clothing, accessories and jewellery, and has gorgeous wedding dresses at rock-bottom prices. For those looking for an entire vintage lifestyle, it also stocks retro homewares and furniture. Just next door, Glorious offers a mix of newer vintage finds from the past few years and old-school eighties classics alongside sparkling jewellery pieces and accessories. If you're looking for an extra-special one-off, head to Starry Starry Night. It specialises in ballgowns, kilts, tweeds and glamorous accessories like evening gloves, twinkling gems and feather boas – just be prepared to pay the price for them. Watermelon is small but crammed full of vintage delights – leather jackets and retro sports tops stretch up to the ceiling, and sparkling prom dresses hang from the roof. The prices are low too, and the shop is always full of bargain-hunters unable to resist the lure of the store’s window displays. Venture down to Partick for a rummage in Handbags and Gladrags for more vintage bags and shoes than you’ve ever seen in one place. It’s constant queues are a testament to its exciting range of stock, and it attracts shoppers of all ages. Glasgow’s newest addition is Vintage Guru – so popular that it’s been opening until 8pm to deal with the crowds, and the window displays are marked as sold as soon as they appear. Definitely worth a visit sooner rather than later. Elsewhere in the city, old favourite Mr Ben's is a forager’s haven.
Raw Vintage too offers a unique take on vintage shopping - its style experts will alter pieces to fit, and you can even take in your old cast-offs to have them turned into vintage gold. Their collection is sourced from all over the globe, so there’s something to suit all fancies.