05 November, 2013

Vintage Shopping in LA - the best shops to visit

Well, its been a long time between posts - work and family life have distracted me so please forgive the delay.

Today I want to share the best bits of my LA Vintage Shopping trip which I did with my lovely vintage friends in April/May this year.

I am an avid etsy buyer so I was not sure how actual 'real life' vintage shopping would compare (in Australia, the prices are much much higher in bricks and mortar stores). I can tell you that I was pleasantly surprised and absolutely LOVED being able to feel fabric and try things on. I have since really decreased my online shopping and am now saving up to go back to the States in 2013 (Chicago I think).

But back to LA. For my money, the top shops in LA are as follows:

(1) The LA Vintage Expo (held a few times a year) - hands down the best vintage fair I have been to - there are sellers from all over the West coast, there is a great variety of styles and prices, all very good quality and a great atmosphere (I also saw Dita and Kramer there - win!).

(2) The shops on Long Beach, LA - Sneaky Tiki, Meow Vintage and Inretrospect (I have posted photos of these below). These are all within walking distance of each other on E 4th Street and are great stores. Prices are reasonable and the stock is in very good condition. There are good cafes on the street so it is lovely place to spend the morning (or day!).

(3) Playclothes in Burbank http://www.vintageplayclothes.com/index.htm (I have put the link for this here as I didn't take any photos on that day)

OK, lets see some photos  . . . 

Sneaky Tiki is a good place to start your shopping day on "Retro Row" in Long Beach. It is a small shop, but the quality is very good and the prices very reasonable. The sales assistant was quite friendly - there was a fairly large group of us (about 10) and she let us just browse and make noise and try stuff on to our hearts content. There is a really good coffee shop selling bagels, paninis and the like just nearby.

Meow Vintage - this shop is great. It is very large and, again, the range and prices are very good. The seller was also relaxed about our group taking over the shop. She also sells at The Vintage Expo. I bought 3 beaded cardigans from her and they are beautiful (averaged around $60, which is very good as they were near perfect). She also has a good range of funkier stuff like Mexican jackets and skirts (I want to go back there to buy them!)

Inside Meow Vintage - so funky!!

 Don't you just love these old fridge doors (used for the changing rooms) - I want these at my house!

Me (on the right) getting ready to try stuff on. Happy times!

A better photo of some of the stock.

 The third great store in Long Beach is the 'vintage collective' type shop called Inretrospect (different booths from different sellers in one large building). This had quite a bit of furniture in it, but also a good range of vintage purses, suitcases and clothes. I bought a great woven basket purse there for $40.


I LOVE vintage suitcases and would have taken these home in a heart beat if I could have. But I guess they are not very practical (I do like my modern wheeler ones). I guess someone smart could put wheels on these vintage ones, but I guess that would ruin them . . . 

 Opposite Introspect is a beautiful art deco cinema and cafe. A great way to end your shopping day on 4th ave Long Beach

I hope you enjoyed my little summary of vintage shops in LA and that you make it here one day. It really is vintage heaven!

Happy shopping!

25 June, 2013

Eating, drinking and more shopping in Portland

During my recent visit to Portland, I managed to squeeze in a little bit of sightseeing in between my vintage shopping expeditions (see previous post!).

I have been starved of English books of late (I am currently living in France), so I made a bee line for book heaven - Powell's Books in downtown Portland - which is quite famous and very very good! 
Unfortunately due to my luggage restrictions I could not buy any books, but did stock up on a few of my favourite magazines.

Next stop was the Ace Hotel where they serve the famous 'Stumptown' coffee which is an artisan company in Portland who roast coffee - see Stumptown coffee roasting. It was very nice coffee. And I say that as someone who is very very fussy about coffee. . .  (I am a Melbournite after all!)
Ace Hotel, Portland

Old building near Ace Hotel, Portland

In addition to coffee, I had some great wine and food in Portland. As I was channeling all my cash into vintage, I did not spend a lot on food - but this is where Portland is great. Practically every restaurant has a nightly happy hour where you can purchase reasonably-priced drinks (glasses of wine for $5-6) and plates of food (smaller versions of the dishes you could get at dinner). 

One of the highlights was the restaurant on the 30th floor of one of the office buildings in Portland  - the Portland City Grill. I had a glass of great white wine and the Salmon fish cakes - they were sooo nice!

On my last day, I sampled a meal from the famous food vans in Portland - these are uber trendy spots in Portland where you can get a cheap meal and sit in a nearby park. I had an interesting lunch plate from the Ethiopian food van - the beef was sort of warmish rather than hot which made me a little concerned. But I survived! I have to say that although they are very cute, the whole 'food van' thing is not my scene. Give me a glass of wine, some salmon and a great view any day.

Some of the famous food vans in downtown Portland.

So there you go, a little snippet of my trip to Portland. I would highly recommend a visit to Portland - its quite cheap and easy to fly there from LA and is an interesting spot. The people are also very very nice. The only thing I would say that it is perhaps not as 'weird' as it makes out (the slogan for Portland is 'Keep Portland Weird'). I thought I would see a lot of kooky outfits and people with red hair, but everything was pretty tame in comparison to our 'quirky' area of Collingwood and Fitzroy in Melbourne where anything is the go. So, just bear that in mind. Its not as 'weird' as you might expect!

24 June, 2013

My vintage shopping trip to Portland!

Portland Center for the Performing Arts - Alrlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

I recently came back from a vintage shopping trip to the US and had the most amazing time. First stop was Portland - a city I have been wanting to visit for a few years now. As my fellow vintage lovers would know, there is a very good vintage scene there and a number of my favourite etsy sellers (eg FabGabs) and bloggers (Vixen Vintage) are based there. It also has a lovely 'real' store called 'Xtbay Vintage' (which also has an etsy site, but the main store is the physical spot in the suburbs of Portland).

First stop, I stayed away from the city centre, in a B&B called 'Clinton Guest House'. I always trawl through Tripadvisor for quirky places to stay. This time around the boutique hotels were out of my price range, but I am glad I stayed at Clinton Guest house as it was lovely and quiet and the breakfasts were divine. I always enjoy having breakfast with fellow travellers and getting some inside knowledge of the area and my hosts were great. I think the lady thought I was funny though because I was talking about how I was on a vintage shopping trip, yet I wore the same cardigan every day (this is explained by the fact that I totally underpacked thinking it would be hot, but it was in fact very cold!). The area where the guesthouse is located was lovely - the residents obviously take great pride in their houses and gardens . . . 
Cnr of SE Clinton and Cesar

Portland is also quite an environmentally-friendly town, and lots of people ride bikes. I went on a bike tour on my first day there, and it was obvious that cycling is highly thought of in the city - with bike lanes everywhere and lots of facilities for cyclists.
Portland celebrates bicycles!

Unfortunately it was raining for most of the time I was in Portland (which I understand is very common there, I think I read it rains something like 250 days of the year!). It is nice gentle rain, but just enough to deter me from getting out my camera. These shots were taken on my last day when the sun came out . . .

Anyway, back to most important thing - vintage! I visited some great stores - first stop Xtbay where I got a lovely 40s dress (only $120 thank you) and an amazing Vera Maxwell dress and coat ensemble. The latter is very Betty Draper.
I will have to get a proper outfit shot of me wearing this ensemble so you can see what it looks like properly, but you can see it is a great abstract print - which is matched by the lining in the jacket. I love this sort of ensemble and so snapped it up when I saw it in the shop. Xtabay is well worth a visit if you are in Portland - everything is clean and well-ordered and the owner has some fantastic items. I also thought the prices were very reasonable considering the quality of the garments (although I am from Australia where vintage is very expensive).

Some more bargains. . . 

A Samsonite hat box (with the previous owners initials stencilled at the top - love!). I purchased this at a nondescript antique warehouse I was going past on my walk at the edge of the city centre - and it was only $45 - again a steal in Australian terms - these normally go for $150 or thereabouts in shops!

(excuse the errant red shoe in the above photo!)

And of course, no shopping trip would be complete without a lucite bag. This one is a Dorset Rex and although the leather shows a bit of wear, it is fabulous. When I get home to Australia I will hunt down some leather wear to match this colour (possibly?!) and hopefully I can rejuvenate the leather a bit. If not, it is still great! (and again a great price at $40). I purchased this at Magpie Vintage in the city centre, which was also a great store.

There is a great online guide to vintage in Portland, at Vintage shopping Portland guide (complete with maps).
In addition to the shops I mentioned above, I would also recommend

- Decades Vintage - small shop but full of reasonably-priced, well cared for vintage items - good mix of mens and women's and some nice lucite bags and jewellery

I visited a couple of others which were just so-so. Ray's Ragtime for instance, had a lot of vintage, but not much in the way of 'quality vintage' and anything half-decent was hanging up near the ceiling. Not a fan of that.

I tried to make it to Lulu's Vintage which regularly wins awards, but it only opens on Saturdays so I missed out on that. The shop looks quite cute from the outside, but fairly small.

So all in all, my vintage shopping experience in Portland was great - the shops are all easily accessible by foot or public transport and the prices are very reasonable. As a girl who loves her etsy, it was actually really nice to be able to shop in a 'real store' and try on things before buying them. Although I will continue to buy things on etsy (of course!) my recent trip made me fall in love all over again with bricks and mortar stores. I find that when I shop like this I buy things which fit perfectly and therefore which I get great wear out of.

Stay tuned for a little bit more of Portland (importantly a run down on the best happy hour spots!) and then on to LA vintage shopping. . . .

09 April, 2013

I am back, and going to Portland and LA

 Bagdad Theatre, Portland

Dear all

Sorry I have been absent from my blog for so long. The good news is that I finally submitted my thesis and it passed, so I am celebrating by going on a vintage-hunting trip to Portland and LA in April-May.

I have been wanting to go to Portland for ages, it looks like such an interesting, arty and creative place, and seems to have FANTASTIC vintage shops. And of course, one of my favourite bloggers, Solanah from Vintage Vixen lives there.

I will be taking my camera so will be doing quite a few posts about vintage shopping in the US. Let me know if there are any particular shops you would like me to visit.

Thanks for your patience, and I will catch up soon,

Maria, aka Vintage Suburbia

20 November, 2012

Life in France

Sorry it has been a long time between posts, but as usual my life is fairly hectic at the moment. I have a rather large and looming deadline - that being my 90,000 word PhD thesis which is due mid-December. So you will have to excuse me but I will be absent from the blogging world for a few more weeks. In the meantime, these are some snippets of my life in France - which at the moment consists of cold weather, wine and food!

Au revoir for the moment, and I will see you all in December.

Thank you so much, Maria (aka Vintage Suburbia)

19 October, 2012

A Lovely Vintage Carousel in France

Recently I took my two young children on the train from our home in Grenoble to a nearby town, Valence in  the South-East of France.  The train ride was only one hour, but rather stressful as my kids insisted on acting up and fighting with each other . . .  sacre bleur as the French would say. But the ride was almost worth it when I saw this lovely vintage carousel . . .

My four year old boy riding the plane.

Most French towns have a small carousel in the middle of the town, which is a lovely feature of French villages, and also gives adults a chance to have a break from their kids for at least five minutes! We have a nice carousel in our home town of Grenoble, but this one in Valence is one of the nicest ones I have seen. It was very old-fashioned and was in perfect condition.

There was also a lovely hot air balloon on the carousel . . .

I actually took these photos with my new(ish) Samsung phone. I was very dubious about how they would look on the web, but I am pleasantly surprised. The ones taken when the carousel are moving are a bit blurry, but the others are actually not too far off a proper camera. I am impressed!

Stay tuned for more on vintage and living in France . . . 

03 October, 2012

Pin up Sailor Swimsuit by the pool

This is my last instalment of posts from my lovely trip to Spain in August (we travelled to Cartagena for a friend's wedding). The weather was perfect, not too hot, not to cold so a swim was in order . . .

As I have a curvy figure and pale complexion I have to put a little effort into assembling a swimming outfit - I can't just pick a bikini off the rack and hope it will look OK! I had decided on a nautical theme for my outfits so I hunted down this fantastic retro swimsuit on etsy (thank you Heather from The Red Dolly!). I like the fact that it is stripy on the top and navy on the bottom which I think may be more flattering for my type of figure. I am glad I didn't go with my original plan, which was striped all over. I had ummed and ahhed about whether to get an original 50s swimsuit or replica, but the originals tend to be expensive and you can run into problems with elastic that has wasted away and so on. I am very glad that I bought this replica - it is made of good quality fabric and fits like a glove.

We stayed at a place called 'Roda Golf and Beach resort' near Murcia in Spain. The pool was lovely and clean and the accommodation is very reasonable. However, the 'beach resort' is actually 40 kms away (a bit of poetic licence used in the brochure I think!).

Its a pity that I had to ruin the look by actually getting in the pool and swimming. It didn't do my red lipstick any favours I can tell you (I ended up with red smear all over my face, which my 8 year old daughter found very hilarious).

Good luck with finding your favourite swimsuit this summer season (that applies to my Australian friends, my US and European followers will have to wait a bit longer for summer I'm afraid!).

Outfit details:

Vintage swimsuit Pin Up Sailor Retro swimsuit– Heather at The Red Dolly

Swimwear cover up etsy

Vintage red parasol – the lovely Maura Bee at etsy Maura Bee

Sunglasses: Accessorize (Dublin, also available in the UK)

Red wedge shoes - a shoe shop on Henry Street, Dublin