Guest article by Laurie Engle
The thrill of sorting through decades of funky, silly, elegant fashion and home decor is one of my passions. Vintage clothing and furniture give sense of style a dash of eccentricity. When I buy vintage, I’m buying nostalgia, and I’m a nostalgia kinda girl.
On North Loop, just east of Guadalupe in North Austin, you’ll find a community of vintage shops away from the tourist crowds on South Congress. This is one of my favorite places to spend a day in Austin, and the one I go to satisfy my craving for that idiosyncratic fashion gem.
Keep reading for a guide to five of my favorite places for vintage shopping in the North Loop neighborhood.
1/ Blue Velvet
I suggest starting the day on North Loop by getting your caffeine fix at Epoch Coffee. Take a little time to enjoy the cool, relaxed atmosphere before heading next door to Blue Velvet.
Don’t let the small size of this place fool you. Its campy, kitschy and over-the-top with something for everyone. I love that they display their clothing by decade, which makes it easy to find that perfect dress to rock the Mia Farrow in “Rosemary’s Baby” look. (The fashion in that movie is seriously epic!)
Shop at Blue Velvet if you have a costume party to attend or just want to find items to showcase your unique sense of style. Blue Velvet is the place to get your bell bottom jeans, red-striped band pants or 1950s pink party dress.
217 W. North Loop Blvd. — Website
2/ Room Service Vintage
Time to take a short stroll down the street to Room Service Vintage, the crown jewel of the area. This building has some history. It used to be a pharmacy with a soda fountain, but Room Service Vintage has occupied the space since 1981. Here you’ll find funky furniture, every color of glassware imaginable, light fixtures that span the decades, records, books, belt buckles and much more.
Seven dealers have items and search all over the United States for their one-of-a-kind treasures. Bill Goodpasture, one of the dealers who has been there since 1999, was unloading his latest find during my last visit: a striped, blue velvet sofa.
Goodpasture told me Room Service’s Instagram page is extremely popular. If you see something on Instagram you want to purchase, you can call the store and they’ll hold the item for you for up to two hours.
I can spend hours exploring each room and every inch of this place. It’s a feast for the eyes. The dealers take care to display their items in vignettes, so those of us who are decorating-challenged can appear stylish without actually doing any work. My find for the day: retro cocktail glasses to drink my Mad Men inspired Old Fashioned out of. Cheers!
107 North Loop Blvd. — Website
3/ Ermine Vintage
Let’s cross the street to visit the laid-back and sophisticated Ermine Vintage. I like the crisp, organized vibe of this place. It has a really great selection of clothes, shoes and accessories for men and women. This is the place to find a stylish, signature piece you’ll wear over and over again.
Think pink velvet belts, fifties-era furs, fashionable cowboy boots and amazing jackets. Oh, and does your taste lean toward 1960s mod fashion? Then you’d adore the white leather go-go boots I found for just $45.00!
106 North Loop Blvd. — Website
4/ Revival Vintage
Revival Vintage is tucked away at the end of the row of shops and is easy to miss if you don’t know it’s there. There’s a nice mix of items from furniture to clothes for the whole family, even the kiddos.
If you’re looking for a gift for someone, check this place out. You can also buy greeting cards to complete your gift shopping.
100 W. North Loop Blvd. — Website
5/ Big Berthas Paradise
Last, but certainly not least, walk a couple of doors down to Big Berthas Paradise. The owner is Henry Tarin, who moved his store from South Lamar four years ago. Tarin says his speciality is dressy, fussy clothing, and he is absolutely right. He’s been known to travel to Paris and New York to find exceptional pieces. This place is uniquely special. Think designer, dress-up attire.
112 North Loop Blvd. — Website
There you have it! Spend a gorgeous day in Austin supporting cool local businesses, and single-handedly saving the environment by buying pre-loved recycled stuff. To make the trip complete, pop in to Workhorse Bar, one of the best neighborhood bars in Austin, for a celebratory drink.
@theAustinot wants to know:
Where is your favorite vintage shop in Austin?
Laurie Engle LOVES Austin, Texas…its many fantastic neighborhoods, laid-back sophistication and never-ending supply of things to experience. Her work is selling homes in this amazing city, while making new friends along the way. You can follow Laurie on her Facebook page.