Friday, 25 July 2008

Glasgow Style

So maybe promising to do one entry a day was a bit much for my last week. It's now Friday of the following week and I've only managed one entry, due to all sorts of things, but mostly because it either got too late or because I fell asleep. I'm actually in Paris now, but before I begin writing about all the wonderful things going on here I have some Glasgow entries to finish up. It may be that I intersperse Paris entries with some Glasgow retrospectives.

For now: Glasgow Style.
If there's one thing to be noted about Glasgow fashion, it is that it often changes as quickly as the weather does. The List's Style Issue (p.21, 13-27 March 2008 Shopping Showdown: Glasgow vs. Edinburgh, Kirsten Innes and Sharon Stephen) writes: "... (Glaswegian fashion) stems from three hallowed institutions: the raw creativity surrounding the art school, the hard-edged 80- inspired electronica still shaking the foundations of the city's club scene, and the arrival of not one but two huge Primark stores in the city centre." If I could have written it better, I would have but, honestly, that's one of the best ways to sum up Glasgow fashion. Here you can pull off almost anything. Unfortunately, this also means that you see a lot of people who think they can pull off everything, when the opposite is the truth.
All this being said, it seems rather silly to focus on high street shops when they can now be found UK-wide (or more often world-wide). This being said, I’ve decided to focus this entry on second-hand and vintage clothing in Glasgow.
I've always been the type of girl who loved a good deal. Moving to the UK made me even more so once I realised what I was actually paying. Since then, I’ve found it wise not do the math when it comes to figuring out the amount of dollars or Euros being spent! Strangely enough, you would have thought that this made me resourceful when it came to buying clothes. My original solution was to wait until I was in a country with dollars or Euros. One day, upon finding clothes that actually fit in a vintage shop I realized just how much I was missing out.

Glasgow is a haven for good vintage of any variety. What would cost you a small fortune in the Washington D.C. area is actually affordable here, and often (depending on the time period of the piece) more affordable than the high street equivalent. But where to go?
The West End of Glasgow is a good place to start. With charity shops up and down Byres Road (and stretching far into Partick) you can spend an entire day checking out what the various shops have to offer. If you have a sharp eye you can pick up some amazing finds at really great prices, like the 40's inspired jacket I found at Cancer Research. It may not be vintage (Next in fact, but circa the early 90's) but it fits beautifully and only set me back £8, 50. On a side note, these charity shops are also good for antiques, records, old electronics, furniture, and books. I recently picked up some old music scores from the 1900's which have beautiful artwork on the covers. On my return to Glasgow I hope to frame them.

There are loads of vintage clothing stores that will please not only the true enthusiast but also those who just want to look. I'll start with my suggestions (some of which are not really suggestions because they are in fact Glasgow institutions!) Mr. Ben's (101 King Street, Glasgow) in the city centre is probably one of the most often recommended shops when you ask someone where to go for vintage clothes. Mr. Ben’s is a great place to start looking. They have bags, dresses, hats, and suits from every decade (going back to the 1920’s). They also have a superb selection of men's clothes (the best in most of my male friend’s opinions!). My flat mates (Andrew and Tom) took me here when they were looking for 50's clothes to wear to the 50's 4th of July Barbecue I hosted (with Andrew). Next on the list, is Watermelon (603 Great Western Road, Glasgow) in the Kelvinbridge area. This shop was on my way to university for most of this year, making it easy to pop in and have a quick look. They carry a bit of everything, from dresses, to bags and shoes. They also have more unusual things like kilts and military jackets (the sort you can get away with wearing as part of everyday fashion, as opposed to what you might find at Starry Starry Night). As usual, everyone's friendly and helpful, whether you’re looking for something obscure or completely common. Retro (8 Otago Street, Glasgow, also Kelvinbridge area) is another one of those places that carries everything. Not to be missed is the rather large downstairs, (which I missed my first time in the shop), which aside from dresses and jackets, also carries vintage bedding.

Although I love all of these shops, my two ultimate favourites (both to be found just off of Byres Road) are Starry Starry Night (19-21 Dowanside Lane, Glasgow) and Circa Vintage (37 Ruthven Lane). Starry Starry Night is a paradise for the eyes, and anyone who loves all things vintage (maybe not such a paradise on the wallet when you realize how much you’ve decided to buy!) Here you find everything from your taffeta and tulle 50's ball gowns to antique wedding gowns, and old military gear. Aside from having all sorts of amazing vintage jewelry, and a beautiful selection of bags, they also have an entire wall full of drawers (with wonderful labels) that include old lace, underwear (I once found a pair of pantaloons!), swimming costumes, braces, and of course scarves and gloves of every variety and occasion. You really get the impression that everything is carefully hand-picked. I picked up several things here on my last trip including a beautiful old tablecloth (£4), a monogrammed scarf (£3), a silk-screen printed scarf with the New York Skyline (£3), and a great leather Pocketbook (from the 1970's, reduced from £15 to £4). I was tempted by a fur muff, but was afraid to ask the price and even more afraid that once I heard it, that I would buy it!

My other (new) favourite is Circa Vintage, who kindly allowed me to take some photographs to share with you (The opening photo for this entry is also from there). I stumbled into this shop on my way to check out record players in Play It Again Records (across the way) and I can say that it will never again be left out of my shopping trips. As their website ( says, they really are one of Scotland’s best-kept secrets. Aside from being impeccably organised, this store has an amazing selection of anything and everything you could ever want. Deep dresser drawers full of gloves and scarves beg to be looked through. At my visit the glove drawer included every conceivable length and style of kid and evening gloves, with several unusual options for the truly brave. Also in abundance are bags, shoes, and belts along with a great selection of jewelry. Even better are the prices. As a fairly obsessive compulsive neat-freak I must also once more effuse the way everything is displayed. The clothes are colour-coded, the jewelry meticulously arranged, and the bags tidily shelved making things easy to find and visually pleasing. I found a beautiful summer dress here (1970’s, £28). I wouldn’t have chosen it normally, but due to Andrew’s recent mentoring (and other people’s compliments!), I found myself inspired. I love that buying vintage means that I can find clothes that fit. Best of all however, I’m finding clothes that were made for women who loved looking…well, like a woman. It’s refreshing to find clothes that show off hips and curves. When was the last time current fashion suggested that again? Who knew a dress eighteen years older than you could make you feel so good about yourself?

Keep tuned for more about Glasgow, Paris, and soon, the U.S…

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