Hey you guys, the Alameda Point Vintage Fashion Faire starts tomorrow! And that happens to be just 11 days before Halloween. Perfect timing to shop for your victorian vampire or your ’80s Cyndi Lauper get up! Or if you’re just a vintage fashion junkie (or maybe you just like costume contests or booze?) the Alameda Vintage Faire is a can’t miss this weekend. There will be 50 booths and three ballrooms of vintage fabulousness. And we’re not talking flea market finds here. As the fair’s organizer Sandra Michaan tells us in the Q&A below, because the fair is inside, dealers will bring their best items because they don’t have to worry about them being exposed to the elements. Look for top brands like Halston, Chanel, and Yves St. Laurent, and look for clothing from every decade all the way back to the victorian and deco eras. Tickets to the special preview on Friday are just $10, and you get first dibs on the best stuff, plus music, a costume contest, AND you get in free on Saturday! If you just want to go on Saturday, it’s $10 if you buy tix between 10 and 11 am, or if you want to wait until 11, tickets will be just $5.
I was super excited to get some inside scoop on both the fair and vintage shopping in general from the queen of vintage herself, Sandra Michaan. She’s organizing this grand event, and the woman knows a thing or two about vintage shopping. Read the Q&A below to find out about stinky polyester, the power of vintage jewelry, and lots more!
1. What types of items should we keep an eye out for at the vintage faire?
Look for fall pieces like vintage sweaters, coats and various accessories, like scarves, gloves and hats. These items will serve you well into the winter season and living in the the Bay Area climate, you’ll have plenty of
opportunity to wear them throughout the year. Buy a big ticket item like a wool coat or faux fur at a vintage faire since they will still be considerably less expensive than buying at your local mall and you will have a one of a kind statement topper. Also, keep an eye out for those “wish list” designer pieces. Dealers bring vintage Chanel and Versace and you might find a dream item to add to your collection.
2. What’s the difference between a vintage fair and a flea market? Is haggling appropriate?
A vintage fashion faire is a one stop, specialty indoor market where dealers will bring their best pieces that they can’t expose to the outdoor elements of a flea market where there are dealers who have booths of antiques and collectibles from every field. Haggling is appropriate in certain situations at an indoor faire such as buying multiple pieces from one dealer. However, great deals can be found so if something is marked $10, just pay it and run!
3. What’s your favorite era to shop for, and what do you most covet from that period?
I go in phases of collecting and I love them all, from Victorian and Deco to 40’s & 50’s. For the past few years, I’ve been into 60’s & 70’s. I mostly buy crochet pieces, knitwear and kaftans. I covet vintage Halston, Yves St. Laurent, and collect Diane von Furstenberg wrap dresses. I also collect jewelry from this period. It’s about statement arm cuffs, earrings, bracelets and necklaces, both signed and unsigned costume pieces to glam it up. Vintage accessories can transform any outfit.
4. I’m a 70s addict, what brands should I look out for? And how can I avoid stinky polyester? Also why does it sometimes smell fine when you purchase, but become stinky as soon as you start wearing the item??
If you want a designer look in 70’s fashion, Halston is always a good bet. Also, look for Vivienne Westwood and Sonia Rykiel. Try to shop for Missoni knits, and Diane von Furstenberg wrap dresses which are still popular today. Stinky polyester is hard to avoid at thrift stores but rare at a vintage fashion faire. I’m not a chemist so this is just a theory. I believe that body odor chemistry mixes once an item is worn. Sometimes fibers hold odors and no amount of chemical gets the smell out. I avoid anything with pit stains. A good dry cleaning can solve some odor issues but alas, not usually under arm odor.
5. What are some key items or styles to look for from other eras?
The key thing to look for when shopping from other eras are items that are vintage but look modern and can be integrated into your current wardrobe with ease. A dress can be Victorian but look right off the current runways.
6. What types of accessories should we look for? What brands are most coveted? And outside of name brands, what are some tips for spotting high-quality pieces?
Look for hats this fall since they were all over the fashion runways. Also, find fascinators. They were popular in the 40’s and look fabulous with the styles out now. Chanel is still the most coveted name designer. I like Lilli Ann who is a collectible vintage name brand but also reasonable and high quality. Just because it’s got a label doesn’t mean it’s good. A vintage piece has to have a good design. It has to be wearable and flattering. Look at the fabric, details (like buttons and zippers) and construction. There was a dress at the last vintage faire that lost it’s original label but I swear it was a Chanel knit or some couture designer and a real bargain for the shopper. Just buy it if it looks good on you and you can’t go wrong.
7. I’m trying to get my husband to come with me to the Vintage Faire? Please help me convince him! Will there be items there a dude might be interested in?
If he’s not into fashion, the Friday night preview features a brass jazz band Blue Bone Express, signature cocktails from St. George Spirits, and we have dude couches to lounge on from 6PM-9PM, not to mention a Halloween costume contest at 8PM. If he likes to shop, we have the top West Coast dealers in men’s vintage specializing in suits, hats, eyeglasses, ties, military, etc. Also, remind him the holidays are coming up and pick out some goodies for your wish list. Let him buy you some one of kind treasures early (a satin vintage Harlow nightgown perhaps?) that are wallet friendly.
8. What price ranges will we find?
Every budget will be accommodated. There are vintage items that range between $10.00 -$1,000.00 for high-end jewels. We will have an ATM for those who forgot to bring extra cash if tempted.
9. In general what’s your philosophy on why people should shop for vintage? How did you get involved and why do you love it?
Buying vintage is a good investment because of the quality and craftsmanship that went into the garments of yesteryear. These pieces are of the finest quality, and have stood the test of time, holding their value. When you wear a one of a kind vintage garment, you stand out in a crowd and can make a fashion statement. That’s why stylists dress stars in top vintage couture for red carpet events, and fashion designers still refer to the past for inspiration in their modern designs. I started collecting vintage for stage costumes and films I’ve acted in, and for wearing to historical events during my reign as Miss Petaluma. I continue to collect as an antique show producer and wear vintage because of the the glamour of the eras they represent. When I make appearances at functions, everyone wants to know “who” I’m wearing and more importantly “who I am.” I love vintage for the way it makes me feel when I’m wearing it and that is what makes it such a
joy to collect.
10. Any other general tips and tricks for vintage shopping?
Trust your taste and go with it or go with a stylish friend who collects vintage and trust their opinion. Ask questions of reputable dealers and gain from their expertise. Ignore sizes with vintage. Always try it on.
What looks good on the hanger (or doesn’t) might be a different story once it’s on your body. Bias cuts look good on most figures. Try to buy what flatters your figure best. Different eras flatter different body types. So
see what works for you and keep buying that style. Shop like a pro by knowing what suits you and you can’t miss.