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Brooklyn’s 5 Best Vintage Stores

December 26, 2013 6:00 AM

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(photo credit: Simon & Schuster)

(photo credit: Simon & Schuster)

Stephanie Lehmann received her B.A. at U.C. Berkeley and an M.A. in English from New York University. She has taught novel writing at Mediabistro and online at Salon.com, where her essays have been published. She currently lives in New York City. Her debut novel, Astor Place Vintage, was recently published by Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Visit her online at stephanielehmann.com and astorplacevintage.com.

An array of vintage clothing stores have materialized in Brooklyn thanks to an influx of hipster, retro-loving residents. But as the fourth most populous city in the U.S. of A, this surprisingly vast borough can be as hard to crack as that boyfriend who’s afraid of intimacy. To make life easier, here’s a list of the best vintage clothing stores in Brooklyn. All these destinations are worth the commitment of time and energy when that urge to dig for vintage treasures hits.

Related: 5 Best Vintage Stores In New York

(photo credit: Atlantis Attic)

(photo credit: Atlantis Attic)

Atlantis Attic
771 Metropolitan Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211
atlantisattic.blogspot.com

If spotting a rack of clothes as long as a runway makes your heart beat faster, then check out Atlantis Attic in East Williamsburg. They carry a huge assortment of 60s, 70s, and 80s garb for guys as well as gals. Though maxing out on button-down acrylics and square-dance ginghams is a risk, you’re bound to stumble onto an irresistible find — especially since everything is wonderfully cheap. With so many items marked 5 and 10 dollars, the 20-dollar price tags begin to seem high – until you remember that flower-power shift dress would be twice as much somewhere else.

Bopkat Vintage
117 Union St
Brooklyn, NY 11231

On a mission to find authentic mid-century vintage? Then bop on over to Bobkat Vintage, a cheery shop with a beat on casual clothes from the 40s, 50s, and 60s. No need to skip over stuff that looks like last year’s Goodwill donations here. Every dress on the rack is reasonably priced and worth a second look; the main question will be whether it fits. Pre-60s clothes in great condition are getting rare, so if the smallish selection doesn’t satisfy that nostalgia craving, then browse the shelves of tchotchkes and ephemera. Items like vintage wrapping paper and party favors compete with flea market prices. Bopkat’s location in the Columbia Street Waterfront district is totally worth the trip.

Union Max
110 Union St
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Another great shop sits kitty-corner from Bopkat, so it’s well-worth adding this stop to the itinerary, especially if you don’t mind getting dusty. Offerings at Union Max include a jumbled inventory of crockery, books and extensive jewelry offerings, but the clothing racks are well-worth investigating. Anything from a Marimekko jacket to a vintage Halston raincoat to Edwardian bloomers can surface here. Prices aren’t the bargain that the “junk store’ presentation suggests, but nothing was out of line, the owner is open to negotiation, and you can’t beat the $5 dollar rack. Added bonus for moms is a nice selection of kid’s clothes, though these already-worn garments might be more exciting to the giver than the recipient.

10 Ft. Single
285 N 6th St
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Evidently, the forgettable name of this Williamsburg store has something to do with the surfboards that are on display, though the location under the shadow of the BQE doesn’t exactly suggest the seashore. The large front room of 10 ft. Single’s warehouse-like space is packed with leisure-time clothing that hails mostly from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. The store caters to guys as well as gals, with the usual offerings of broken-in jeans, novelty tees, leather boots, ethnic jackets, and accessories like sunglasses, bandanas, etc. Dresses on the racks are crammed so tightly the hangers barely move half an inch, so expect those biceps to get a workout. The selection includes a profusion of rayon florals and a particularly good selection of rompers, with most pieces priced at a genial $35. But don’t miss the second room tucked away in back, where an excellent selection of pricier vintage clothing can be found without wading through any polyester. If you’re looking to dress up for that party and have a hundred dollars to spend, paddle to this oasis.

img 5234 Brooklyns 5 Best Vintage Stores

(photo credit: Olive’s Very Vintage)

Olive’s Very Vintage
434 Court St
Brooklyn, NY 11231
olivesveryvintage.com

Olive’s Very Vintage specializes in very high fashion, with clothing and accessories that date from Queen Victoria to Queen Madge. I’m not saying it’s all high-end, but this is the place to go if you’re looking for a piece of fashion history with a designer label. The eclectic selection is a mix of timeless and trendy, with anything from a $200 tagless sundress from the 50s to an $850 Oscar de la Renta 60s couture dress. Don’t expect bargains, but do presume high quality, well-made, stylish clothing. Olive’s has a male counterpart, Olaf’s, at another Carroll Garden’s location.

Stephanie Lehmann received her B.A. at U.C. Berkeley and an M.A. in English from New York University. She has taught novel writing at Mediabistro and online at Salon.com, where her essays have been published. She currently lives in New York City. Her debut novel, Astor Place Vintage, was recently published by Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Visit her online at stephanielehmann.com and astorplacevintage.com, and if you would like to hear more about her book, click here.

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