Sunday, September 27, 2009
Sally’s Retro Fashion’s in Smith St Fitzroy is a dress-up box filled with lace, hats parasols and beautiful cream nightdresses.
The collection of vintage items literally drips from the walls, as the owner has made the most of a small space by hanging clothes and hats from lattice-shaped blocks connected by wires to the ceiling.
Overall it’s a smallish collection, though the variety and quality of the womens’ and menswear is excellent. The shop is divided into two halves. The front is devoted to racks of some of the softest faux fur coats I have ever felt, beautiful 1940s caps, long black lace skirts and dresses and sweeping night gowns with some of the most delicate embroidery and pearling.
The selection of coats is really something. I indulged in a mid-calf length coat made from brown mohair (that has this wonderful textured feel) and lined with sheep’s wool around the collar ($90 reduced from $125 **) There were also some 70s style tweed and woven jackets with the most delicate gold buttons and a couple of coats made from thick, brown faux fur. Sally's has a smallish collection of dresses, pants and skirts, but there seemed to be a good range of patterns and fabrics. I found plenty of cream and black lace pieces through-out the store, which gave the selection this gothic Victorian feel. There were some beautiful floor-length cream slips with delicate lace and sequinning around the collar.
I uncovered a pair of leopard-print pumps amongst the shoe collection, (shoes hung from a lattice that rested against one of the walls) which could balance/highlight a black outfit. I thought there was a little bit of a lack of colour amongst the clothes in the womenswear section. Everything was very dark and simple (though in beautiful condition), though the colourful range of hats and caps (and bright purple wigs) lifted the mood a little. There is an incredible range of accessories (necklaces, rings, watches, earrings etc) in three tall, glass cabinets at the front of the shop. Long gold chains and a bracelet set with these tiny pearls caught my eye amongst the other jewels.
Menswear is located in the second part of the split-level shop. There is a fantastic selection of hats, bowler, pork pie and wide-brimmed hats. There we some wonderfully thick coats and jackets and a couple of floor-length trenchcoats made of a lighter material. There were plenty of slacks, suit pants, shirts and leather jackets to browse through. I knocked over a “briefcase” from the fifties that was fitted with little items like a razor, mirror and toothbrush holder, which I thought was particularly charming.
Sally’s is a vintage shop and the prices are a little higher than an op-shop. However the condition of the clothes is great and the variety of items is almost incomparable to what you may find in your local op-shop. Most items were around the $40-$90 mark.
** However if you pay cash there is a 15% discount … I also pretended to still be a student and received a further 5% off the price of my mohair coat (eventual price was $75.)
The store owner was polite and left me mostly to browse around alone. Though we did have one rather awkward moment when she snuck up behind me while I was trialling a faux fur coat, cap and leopard print pumps combination.
There were totally some items in this store I would never consider purchasing, such as a pair of vinyl black pants, a hip-length real fur mink coat and a canvas, patterned, cape held together by curtain tassles. But these unique items hinge together this wonderful collection of dress-up box worthy materials and trinkets.
***As a little bit of an afterthought, try to avoid vintage clothes shopping around Gertrude St Fitzroy on a Monday. Wonderful vintage shops like Moustache and Curve are only open Tues-Sat from around 11am-6pm.
address: 203 Smith St, Fitzroy
changerooms: 3 (covered with 50s magazine cut-outs)
music: The Beatles - across the universe
pt: Catch the number 86 tram from Bourke St Mall
parking: a few 1p ticketed car parks up side-streets off smith st
food: The old post office on Smith Street has been transformed into this wonderfully presented cafe - its worth stopping by and having a coffee there, especially if you are waiting for your tram (the stop is right outfront!)