A thrift shop isn’t a typical first stop when visiting, say, Istanbul, but that’s exactly where you’ll find Funmi Odulate whenever she finds herself in a new city. The British journalist has now put all that trekking to good use with her first book, Shopping for Vintage, The Definitive Guide to Fashion (St. Martin’s Press). The tome, which made its U.S.-release today, lists nearly 1,000 vintage and second-hand stores across the world, provides tips on the art of buying and selling, and includes a glossary of famous designers throughout the ages. Here, Odulate shares some of her vintage highs and lows with Wmagazine.com.
What are the best cities for vintage shopping? “St. Louis and Paris–great prices and lots of undiscovered gems.”
Your all-time favorite store? “The Way We Wore in L.A. It goes from good-quality cheap pieces right up to amazing Charles James pieces that Doris Raymond, who runs the store, hides in back.”
Is there a vintage item that you will never part with? “Yes. This amazing YSL shift dress from the Seventies that I bought at a vintage fair for 50 pounds. It’s so heavily sequined that it can’t even hang–you have to roll it. I think I’m going to base my wedding dress on it.”
What’s your biggest bargain? “I picked up a dress quite a few years ago on the floor somewhere at a flea market in Paris. I paid one euro for it. It’s like what YSL and Stella have done with watercolor prints, and it’s trimmed with gold rope.”
Anything still on your wish list? “A Balenciaga coat from the Fifties and an original Vionnet or Madame Gres.”
Do you have any vintage-related regrets? “There’s an old Balenciaga dress that cost 40 pounds that I kick myself for. I didn’t know if I’d wear it, so I left it. Time after time, I think, ‘Gosh, was I drunk?’ Even if I never wore it, it would have been a great thing to have and pass on, or sell.”
What tip would you give a newbie vintage shopper? “I call that girl the vintage virgin. One of the things I mention in my book is to shop not with your wallet but with an open mind. Think about your style. If you’re a classic Calvin Klein kind of girl, there’s no use in looking at a Victorian lace dress. It won’t work for you. So be open, but be you.”