Clothes and Curiosity

This past weekend, I left the world of crazy politicians, Harambe memes and nervous Cubs fans as I knew it, and I went back in time to the 1900’s where the jewelry was flashy and the style was classy. My best friend came along with me for the journey, and now I cannot wait to bring other friends on the same adventure.

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I was home for the weekend to visit my high school and other friends in the area. My best friend Christy and I were hanging out Saturday, and she told me she found this store that she wanted to take me to. All she told me was that is was an antique store. Our favorite thing to do is shop, so it didn’t take much convincing for me to put the car in drive and head on over to Antique and Resale Shoppe on Harlem and Touhy. From the outside, it didn’t seem like much. It looked small and had some colored paper with various items as it’s window display. Once we walked in though, I was transported to the 20’s through the 70’s. There were shelves everywhere. So much so that my light coat and scarf sometimes knocked things over on the shelves and tables. There were pictures wall to wall, cases with jewelry and other items, small racks layered in thousands of pearls, and aisles that completely filled the small establishment. The shop was pretty empty with customers, but so crowded with stuff my eyes didn’t know where to land. As we listened to the smooth jazz playing from the radio, Christy and I went up and down the tiny aisles in awe of all the treasures.

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You can find anything at this store. There are piles of gold and pearly jewelry, diamond hair combs, old horns, family photos, and various clothing items. The great thing about this store is their authenticity. There is nothing modern there. Everything is truly vintage and simply beautiful. It was as if every story your grandparents told you came to life in this store. As I went up and down the aisles trying to find somewhere for my eye to land, I kept imagining the stories behind some of the objects. There were old mirrors with delicate gold handles that I imagined only the classiest lady to use while pinching her cheeks. There were bins of old family photos to be looked through as well. The people in the pictures didn’t have names, and they ranged from portraits to nude photos that you can only imagine were sent from sea to shining sea during the war. There were also old lighters and knives that I could see being passed down from my grandpa to his kids. One of my favorite sections was this set of glass drawers that had everything from old watches to novelty pins. It is organized so perfectly, yet it looks so busy. I also enjoy this one little section in the back of store that is for women. The clothes are organized by event, not size. You decide if you are going to dress as a lady in red, or perhaps you need an outfit for “an affair to remember”. There are old gloves, hats, feathers and lingerie as well. Then in the men’s section there are bow ties, suspenders and dress shoes. On my way to a degree in fashion design, my heart melted as I saw clothes that embodies high class and sophistication. Me being in my army jacket from target with ripped boots and plastic Forever 21 sunglasses, I yearned to try on everything they had.

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This is the kind of store you stumble upon by accident, which is exactly what Christy did, and then you leave with a whole new attitude. Seeing this shop decked out from ceiling to floor in vintage jewels and objects, I couldn’t help but think of my grandma. I saw photos of men at war and thought about how my grandpa would send her pictures from when he was stationed in Korea. I saw fur stoles and classic pearls and dresses and imagined women being escorted by handsome men to parties and nightclubs where you leave with romance and not regret. Every inch of the store was filled with memories dancing around the aisles. I think the things I appreciated most were the jewels and clothes that were in near perfect condition. The women who run the store have an eye for quality and they keep their standards high. Everything is clean and well taken care of. Learning about the fashion industry, I now know that people today buy things on the cheap so that they can keep up with trends, they don’t buy things for their quality or style. Then, after 3 washes the soft touch of the fabric goes away and those items sit in our closets until they are eventually discarded or thrown in metal donation bins. Back when our grandparents were young, clothing and other accessories were big purchases. Things were bought for their incredible quality and classic style, and they were meant to last. Those things were then taken care of with great pride, and the lasted for decades before being handed down. People didn’t just buy things to have temporarily like we do today. Now, those things hang neatly on hangers waiting to be purchased and given new life all over again. There was so much more appreciation for how things were made in the early 1900’s and it shows in its quality years later. My grandma would tell me stories of her mother’s jewelry and how she still has some of her favorite pieces. The whole time we were in this antique shop, I felt like I was in her attic watching her and other people’s life story unfold right in front of me. It was as if I was super little again playing with her old costume jewelry and silk slips and scarves.

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I did not expect much from this store when I first saw it. I thought it would be a dingy overpriced antique store, but I was so wrong. This tiny shop is now home to hundreds of memories and stories that just sing when you glide your hand down a rack of clothes or when you flip through old pictures and postcards. The chaos of the aisles makes for quite the ride, and Christy and I spent half of our time yelling from across the store “come look at this!” By the time we left, a couple hours had passed and we felt a sense of nostalgia for an era we only dream of living in. I cannot wait to back into the store because I know I only saw a small fraction of the inventory. I would encourage everyone to take a visit to the Antique and Resale Shoppe, and I hope that one of these weekends I’ll get to take my grandma along with me. (Maria Varela/ CoS Student)

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