Julie Ghatan, owner of Dovetail Chicago
What are your favorite spots to score great vintage finds?
"I love all the usual places but I’d have to say that flea markets and auctions are my favorite spots; they’re already semi-curated (unlike yardsales and thrift stores) so there is less digging involved. There’s a great flea market in my hometown in Southern Illinois that I visit when I’m visiting my family and always bring back great stuff from it, like this old clock cabinet I purchased for $5. The clock was removed from it but I saw a lot of potential in it. I installed shelves on the inside and use it as a little curio cabinet in my home now."
What are your personal vintage shopping guidelines?
"I won’t buy clothes I couldn’t style with my existing wardrobe because I know it would just sit in my closet, unworn. The clothes must fit and have all their buttons. I know I’m lazy and rarely take items in to the tailor for repairs or alterations. However, if I absolutely love an item that needs repairs or alterations, I will definitely buy it and take it to my alterationist the same week to make sure it gets done, like this yellow silk wide-leg jumpsuit I found in NYC. It was a little too big in the bust and a little tight in the waist but with a few adjustments, it fits perfectly and is one of my favorite items I’ll treasure forever. I also never say no to a good statement necklace. These come in handy on days when I don’t want to put a lot of effort in my wardrobe. I just put on a solid top, a pair of jeans, and a big, bold necklace and call it an outfit."
Any words of advice for those new to vintage shopping?
"I think moderation and smart pairing is really important when it comes to wearing vintage items. If you dress in vintage from head to toe, you could look like you just stepped out of a time capsule — which is cool if that’s your thing. But if you want to look fashion-forward, I suggest pairing vintage jewelry, belts, and bags with modern clothing and shoes. There has to be a balance between old and new. I like wearing a vintage silk Indian wedding dress with a denim jacket and ankle boots."
Tell us about your favorite vintage shopping item/experience.
"Six years ago, I went walking along Division Street in Wicker Park and came across a sidewalk sale, where I saw this cute kitchen cart. I had to have it, but it was $100 and I wasn’t really looking to drop $100 unexpectedly! I wasn’t planning on shopping that day. It was just supposed to be an innocent walk. But I just had to have it! So I asked the owner to hold it for me and I rushed across the street to an ATM and pulled out the cash. Since I didn’t live too far away, she helped me carry it to my apartment. Later the same year, my roommate at the time was studying art history and told me she saw the cart in one of her reference books. Turns out it’s an original piece by Arthur Umanoff and worth way more than the $100 I paid for it. It’s one of my most favorite pieces and I will take it with me wherever I go."
Photos: Courtesy of Julie Ghatan
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