Vintage Shopping in The Bay Area

vintage shopping online

Believe it or not, in the world of fast fashion, there are some people who love classic, evergreen, and feminine clothes. Although lace, pearls, and printed florals are making a comeback (still waiting for hats to do the same), there are some individuals who would instead spend their hard-earned money rummaging through racks of worn clothes because the sewing and quality was much better back in the day. So why shop vintage? Vintage clothes have a story, a quality, an aged/experienced individuality that mass produced and even designers try to emulate. People who like to incorporate vintage items in their wardrobes are creative, bold, and experimental. Some just prefer the conservative flowing quality of chiffons, ruffles, and sashes/bows.

So if you are in the Bay Area or live here, consider toning down your ultra-modern wardrobe with some pastels or floral vintage items. You will fit right in.

One of the best experiences of shopping in a vintage store is seeing the character and individuality of the items there. The first time I bought something vintage was in college. I still remember it like it was last month. It was a midi-skirt with larger florals and ruffles at the hem. Trust me when I say, it was the most special piece I owned at the time and I got so many compliments and looks because it was unlike anything popular at the time. I paired it with some modern t-shirts and accessorised it with knee-high boots. I was quite proud of the fact that it cost me only $20 and I got so much use out of it.

Today, I want to highlight some regional stores where you can shop vintage for either Halloween or a Monday morning. The shops I shopped in the past are closed so the stores I listed here are based on Yelp reviews. I try to cover major areas in the Bay Area so consequently I cannot visit all of them and give a first-hand experience review. So here goes:

San Francisco:

You cannot go wrong shopping in the Mission District of this cultural city. Here, vintage stores line the streets like Starbucks and people actually shop there! So if you are in the market for some vintage clothes, accessories, and shoes, consider visiting these shops. Mission District shops that are highly-rated for vintage finds are Retro Fit Vintage and No Shop. The other area in SF for vintage stores is The Haight. Here the two highly-rated stores are Relic Vintage and Love Street Vintage.

Peninsula/South Bay:

This area is called the heart of Silicon Valley so it is quite a rare sight to spot someone with vintage aesthetics. But, you would be surprised to find that even here, there are shops scattered that sell used vintage and designer clothes at reasonable prices. In Mountain View, The Therapy is a staple and a local favorite. In downtown Los Altos, The Repeter is a cute little shop with super customer service. Here I have seen Chanel tweed blazers at a steal. In San Jose, stores like Classic Loot, Black and Brown, and 2nd New Look have earned high marks.

East Bay:

You will find tons of vintage shops in Berkeley, California. Other cities to consider are Oakland and Walnut Creek. I am unsure you can find any variety in South East Bay in cities like Livermore, Dublin, Fremont (maybe in Pleasanton). If I would give you a recommendation, I would say do not go anywhere, but Berkeley for authentic, curated, varied, and good quality vintage items. In Berkeley, stores like Caviar and Cigarettes (interesting name), Empress Vintage, and James Rowland Shop get high ratings.

Well, guys here are some examples and suggestions of where to shop for vintage shop. Don’t worry about the quality. Almost all the items in vintage shops in USA are curated and checked for damages and prices are set accordingly. On that note, I will also advise to do some checking of your own when purchasing a piece. If you love the piece and find a tear or rip, ask yourself can you fix it? Is it worth the price? If the answers are yes, then purchase it; if no, then look for something else.

In terms of avoiding looking like a Halloween costume (unless it is Halloween-9 more days!), I say accessorize and mix-n-match your vintage purchases with some modern items. If you bought a flowy, floral dress, consider Dior kitten heels or nude Louboutins. If you bought some classic shoes, dress them up with some denim or jackets. Vintage hats, scarves can go with t-shirts and sweaters, and so on. Just be creative and think about what image you want to portray to the world. Happy Shopping!!!

Leave a Reply