In Philadelphia, it seems like you’re either a lawyer flush with fashion dollars and a killer wardrobe, or an art student with a service job and more creativity flowing than cash. A new crop of shops is reflecting our tastes, with independent boutiques for the well-cut silhouettes of professionals, and the bold prints of bohemian secondhand stores for the free spirits. As for the rest of us, we just shop at both.
I cannot seem to wander past Vintage Connection these days without admiring the window dressing. That’s because Heather Waity is always switching up her mannequins’ ensembles at her months-old boutique. What makes Waity’s collection of rompers, housedresses and accessories so special is her ever-changing stock. She closes shop on Mondays and Tuesdays to seek out extra-cute pieces and takes regular trips to other states to score her prized vintage. There have already been two trunk shows with spectacular collections and cupcakes to sweeten the deals. But still, I must go back to the window. So far, it has inspired me to purchase a straw pocketbook and a high-waisted skirt, and I’ve gone out of my way just to walk past it at 9th and Bainbridge. Even at night, walking home with a date, the moonlight seems to shine perfectly on the window’s latest getup. I will stare, mesmerized, and nod as though I am listening to whomever I am with. Then I will manufacture reasons why I must return down the street the next day to see if the outfit is still there and in my size.
My friend Ashley knows she can take her boyfriend to Sazz Vintage as though she’s doing him a favor. After all, most of the new store’s merchandise is for males. There aren’t many guy-friendly boutiques in Old City, so Sazz, open since April, is a welcome change. There is indeed a rack for women and they’re adding a new ladies’ night on Thursdays. However, that’s not what our girl is after. She’s there to try on three-piece suits and her tall, slender build is just right for smaller menswear. Best of all, Sazz is fantastically cheap and has sales often, which is another notable upshift in the Old City shopping experience.
Faye Smith saw something else that was lacking in Old City: baby clothing. So she opened Sevilla Smith in June, and the garden-styled space with dressing room tents has been outfitting little ones and their fashionista mamas in organic cotton and linen-wear ever since. Sevilla Smith, 128 N. Third St., 215-629-5683.
Around for just a month, Orphelin is my new favorite. Packed with plenty of kitsch to make the tightest lips smile, the two-room shop spans the eras with housewares, aprons, furniture, and snazzy vintage in excellent condition. I should mention a third room that I spent plenty of time in: the dressing room. The large pink-walled room is furnished and accessorized with an old-school telephone and retro board games. It’s like playing dress-up in grandma’s attic with the stylin’ fashions she wore as a much younger dame. You can’t help but wonder about the people who loved these clothes before you, and those that cared for the clothing long after.
The Big Green Earth Store
The Big Green Earth Store claims you don’t have to be a hero to save the planet, and if we’ve learned anything over the past few years, it’s that eco-anything sells big and heroes are a sexy bunch. The feel-good shop is a complete turnaround from all of those guilt sessions that mega sprees can put you in . At BIGES, you splurge on a backpack that charges all of your electronics through solar panels, pick up recycled housewares, toss your old batteries and cell phones and top up your laundry detergent bottle at the “filling station.” It’s a big deal for Philly to finally get a store like this, all in a neat and encouraging space, too.