Spring finally seemed to have arrived in St Andrews in the last few weeks. Along with walks on West Sands and ice cream from Jannettas to look forward to, comes a necessary wardrobe spring clean. This Spring/ Summer why not look to a St Andrean take on the vintage phenomenon for inspiration.
Vintage has been en vogue for several years; it has evolved into a whole new form of shopping and has become a lifestyle choice for many. Although the Great British High Street is now adept at offering high fashion for peanuts, sometimes an antidote to disposable trends is necessary. St Andrews’ independent retailers offer something more personal, and along with my love of local shopping I recently discovered a perfect cure for mass-produced banality: vintage.
The allure of a unique and individual vintage piece, imbued with heritage and the imagined histories of the once-owner is something the High Street just can’t replicate. St Andrews might not seem an obvious vintage haunt compared to big cities with their own vintage emporiums and fashion scene, however our wee town has some fantastic hidden treasures – you just have to look a little harder for them, which I think adds to their specialness.
With a bit of perseverance and insider knowledge, there are ways to kit out your vintage wardrobe. Thrifting in St Andrews is great; shopping at car boot sales or charity shops is usually much cheaper than the vintage ‘branded’ shops. It does take some patience but the reward of a gorgeous bargain find is definitely worth it. Several people have told me about their amazing St Andrews charity shop finds, so I decided to give it a go and report back.
The tactic I have developed is to go often and early as the best pieces go really quickly. I tend to pop into charity shops on the way to lectures to peruse the new stock. It’s a bit hit and miss – one day there might be loads of things that catch your eye, the next there might be nothing. Most of my purchases have been sheer luck, as through perseverance I have found some striking individual pieces, such as this gorgeous crepe and lace peter pan collar dress I got for £6 from Barnardo’s, luckily in my size and completely my style.
My favourite place to thrift is Cancer Research on South Street (the one closer to Bibi’s) which my friend showed me; it has some beautiful hidden treasures. There is a dedicated vintage section at the back with a charming boutique feel. This shop clearly knows its market and understands the allure of one-off pieces at incredible prices. I got this gorgeous vintage burgundy leather doctor’s bag for just £10.50 and a red leather vintage clutch bag for just £5. They have some lovely midi skirts just now for the “real deal” version of the seventies trend, as well as some great trans-seasonal chunky knits. The selection of vintage bags and shoes is consistently appealing.
Trust me, it’s worth it – but if this all seems like a bit too much effort for you, then Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair, recently in St Andrews and returning again in the Autumn, lays it all out for you. All pieces are hand-picked and prices checked to ensure they are around 75% less than the High Street. Founded in 2005 by Selfridges personal shopper Judy Berger, the fair is the largest of its kind, serving 23 UK cities and dubbed a ‘shopping phenomenon’ by the national press. There’s a market stall vibe to the fair with different tradesmen showcasing vintage, re-worked and handmade items. The community of traders offer alternative fashion spanning the decades. What better way to be individual, without breaking the bank?
I thoroughly recommend visiting the fair when it’s next in St Andrews as it is also a great way to discover local vintage companies, from Edinburgh for example. I now have a long list of new shops to discover when I’m back home over summer.
In a time where your dress is out of fashion as soon as you’ve put it on, the otherworldly glamour of vintage is the perfect escape. Furthermore, it’s a green way to shop as essentially you’re recycling clothes. I’ve certainly found a new fashion conscience, and St Andrews has so much more than it seems on the surface. Why not try something new? Your wallet and the planet will thank you and you might just take your style to another level to boot.
Images: Rosie Steer, http://www.everythinglooksrosie.com
The Tribe Fashion Editor Rosie blogs for Visit St Andrews – read their blog http://www.blog.standrews.co.uk and follow them on Twitter – @VisitStAndrews for the latest news on events and goings-on in St Andrews.