"When I looked at the label, it said Callot Soeurs," she said. "My eyes did that cartoon thing when they bug out. I almost passed out."
Callot Soeurs was a fashion design house that opened in 1895 in
"I still have the dress," Shelton said. "I'm probably going to hold onto that dress for a while. There are some pieces that are just so special and irreplaceable. It is priceless."
Building a business
Shelton was surrounded by old clothing when she was growing up, she said, and wore vintage in college due to both budget constraints and a desire to express her individuality.
"I followed," her business partner.
Shelton and Panzarella go on road trips to other parts of the country, looking for vintage pieces at antique malls and estate sales -- something they've been doing since 2009. Currently their inventory includes between 4,000 and 5,000 pieces, and they've sold more than 3,000 through their online Etsy shop.
"We've paid anything from nothing to hundreds of dollars for vintage clothing before," Panzarella said. "Lots of times people contact us to sell because they feel more comfortable handing off clothes that are special to them to us because we will clean and repair and make sure their clothes wind up somewhere where they'll be cherished."
Vintage, not thrift
Unlike many other used clothing sellers, Shelton and Panzarella take the time to clean and repair the pieces they sell. Shelton gently hand-washes every piece of clothing, and Panzarella is in charge of doing repairs. Then, they photograph the pieces and they go up for sale on their website.
"Most of our clothes are purchased by people who do wear vintage frequently," Shelton said. "Some of them only wear vintage, but others may style certain pieces with more modern outfits."
The individual care Shelton and Panzarella give each of their pieces has not gone unnoticed. Stylists from the sets of movies and TV shows have contacted them about buying their clothes -- even
The concept of vintage clothing has changed a bit over the past few years. With more young people interested in clothing styles from the 20th century, the term "vintage" is now frequently used to describe clothing from the 1980s and 1990s. Anyone can go to their local thrift store and pick up a pair of "vintage" cowboy boots or cat-eye sunglasses for
However, the pieces that Shelton and Panzarella carry in their store are much pricier than that. For example, a bronze-colored velvet flapper dress from the 1920s, decorated with rhinestones and gold lamÉ, costs almost
"A lot of people don't really understand why our pieces are so expensive," Shelton said, "because they think they can go get the same thing from a thrift store. But we don't usually carry anything from after the 1970s because we want the quality and the beauty of the clothes."
From a rack of clothing in her studio, Shelton pulled out a 1920s velvet cocoon coat, lined with beaver fur and beautifully embroidered at the sleeves -- not exactly something you might find at a thrift shop. That coat is currently on sale for
Vintage hats also hot
"I do my sourcing online from
Webb ships her hats from her home after sprucing them up with a steamer and making repairs. She opened her online hat shop in 2010. Right now, she said, she has between 200 and 250 hats in her inventory.
"My interest in vintage started in high school," Webb said. "And I started a vintage clothing store before on Etsy, but it didn't do so well. But I had a few hats in there and they sold really quickly, so I thought maybe this is something that I could sell exclusively."
Poppycock Vintage Hat Shop carries many different types of hats, including floral headpieces, which are extremely popular right now. to silk cloches, a style that was all the rage in the 1920s. Webb's hats cost from
"The coolest hat I've ever found was at an estate sale in
As summer blazes on, Webb's floral headpieces and wide-brimmed straw hats have been selling really well.
"It's an easy trend for people to try who may be just getting into hats," she said. "They're really easy to style."
Local, but still online
Currently, the demand for higher-end vintage goods in
"I also really want to hold styling classes that will help people learn how to wear vintage in modern outfits," Shelton said. "It'll be a great way to bring the vintage community together and hopefully get more people interested as well."
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