Shops We Love: Exquisite Costume

A NoLIta vintage shop is up to its old tricks. By Christina Therrien
ExquisiteCostume_1stAn Ossie Clark gown, a Jean Muir sweater coat, Mugler leather trousers. It's tough to wow the vintage pack in New York, but a pair of 1940s lace tap pants or a midnight-blue waistcoat from the early 20th century…in impeccable condition? Okay, we're paying attention. True vintage connoisseurs really can find something exceptional at Exquisite Costume, one of the better new vintage shops to open in recent years.
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Originally started as an online boutique for stylists and collectors, Exquisite Costume has found a brick-and-mortar home in NoLIta. Opened by Stacey Iannacone and Tracey Moulton last February, the two aimed to create a store of wearable Victorian and Edwardian pieces that mix flawlessly into a modern wardrobe. "We try to offer a specific product at a fair price," explains Iannacone. "We want everything to be accessible."
The delicate, polished-looking shop with its gleaming hardwood floors and pale-green walls is the perfect environment to house such antique treasures-each piece has a place of its own where it hangs primly on pristinely spaced hangers. Racks line the walls, stretching to the rear of the store. Furs are sectioned off from eveningwear and jackets from girlish tops. Boots and shoes peek out along the floor while pretty platform sandals and technicolor sunglasses are stowed in a cupboard with a glass door. A tiny "tapestry" dressing room completes the setting, across from an Oriental screen that keeps the partners' newest acquisitions from prying eyes.
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Though turn-of-the-century clothing is their specialty, the store is filled with other amazing finds, each labeled with a description of its back-story. Mixed in among the white-lace Victorian blouses and the 1900s thigh-high stockings are 1970s leather pants by Gucci and a 1946 Madras evening gown complete with custom sequins. Spiraling up the racks is an extensive collection of jackets and coats, ranging from a Diane von Furstenberg (complete with 1980s fur trimmings) to 1950s and '60s Christian Dior.
In addition to their exceptional selection, Iannacone and Moulton also carry another vintage store rarity: larger sizes. "We've both had that experience of going in and not seeing our size on the rack," says Moulton. "We want people to feel comfortable here—and find what they want."
Exquisite Costume, 377 Broome Street, 212-966-4142, www.exquisitecostume.com.
A NoLIta vintage shop is up to its old tricks.
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