Revamped style

Mandi Noyes

Students find unique fashions in vintage clothing

A mannequin models some vintage clothing in the foyer of The Funky Hippy secondhand store in Akron. The store sells clothing, furniture and other items from the 1950s through 1980s fashion scene. Below: The owner of The Funky Hippy in Akron said her store

Credit: Beth Rankin

The necklace junior Clarissa Westmeyer purchased for $3.99 was an authentic piece — it was Schiaparelli, a vintage jewelry designer, worth more than $500.

“My sister and I were at the Salvation Army in Cleveland when I found a necklace I liked that looked like sea shells and reminded me of a mermaid,” Westmeyer said. “My sister hated it — I bought it anyway.”

Westmeyer doesn’t wear her necklace anymore. She keeps it in a box in her room.

Vintage clothing has been gaining popularity among students. Misty Gunn, president of the Fashion Student Organization who is currently a freelance fashion assistant in New York City, has her own idea of what makes vintage: It’s clothing dated 20 years or older. It does not have to be used or thrift, and it can be old merchandise that has never been worn.

Vintage: What is it and where to find it

Westmeyer, secretary of the Fashion Student Organization, thinks of vintage clothing as clothes from a specific time period.

“Vintage clothing has an age thing,” Westmeyer said. “A thrift store is an amazing place to find great vintage clothing from various time eras.”

Sophomore nursing major Christopher Taylor, who wears primarily vintage clothing, said he thinks of a conservative look when it comes to vintage clothing.

“I think of a softer look of clothing,” Taylor said. “Something like a ’50s-style strapless dress.”

Vintage clothing deals with originality and is the “in” type of clothing of 2005, he said.

“It is being original,” Taylor said. “People are looking at a form of expression through clothes.”

Vintage clothing connects with someone’s personality, Westmeyer said.

“You can find priceless articles of clothing and know no one will have that exact same piece as you,” Westmeyer said. “It is a confidence booster.”

Thrift stores vs. department stores

Department stores carry replicas and remakes of vintage clothing, Westmeyer said.

“There’s such a thing as a fashion cycle,” Westmeyer said.

Department stores attempt to recreate an article of clothing when they are inspired from certain time eras, she said. At a thrift store, there is almost never two of the same articles of clothing.

“At a department store, if you really like a certain shirt in a certain color, chances are you are going to find the size you want in the color you want,” Westmeyer said.

Students today feel like they need to wear the best clothes and spend $60 on an Abercrombie shirt. They feel like thrift stores are beneath them, Taylor said. But students can find name-brand clothing at thrift stores.

“I think students get some sort of gratification from saying they purchased their clothes from a name-brand company like Nordstrom,” he said. “You can sometimes even find some amazing name brands while getting more stuff.

“Fashion today is crazy. There were no brand names back in the day like there is today.”

Shoppers should be open-minded when they go to thrift stores, Taylor said. They shouldn’t have one specific look in mind — they can get cheaper clothes if they’re willing to be flexible. Developing an “eye” for vintage clothing is key to a successful thrifting experience to find a one-of-a-kind piece.

“You can’t go in there with one thing on your mind,” Taylor said. “I can’t tell you how to exactly find authentic vintage, but with practice, you will be able to find clothing easier.”

Perks of vintage shopping at thrift stores

Expanding the wardrobe and saving money appear to be the most popular perks of thrifting, Westmeyer said. She shops for vintage at thrift stores because she saves money.

“You not only expand your wardrobe, (but) you get more for your money — literally,” Westmeyer said. “You can revamp a lot more with thrift clothes than department clothes.”

Variety is also a perk because shoppers never know what they’re going to get when they enter a thrift store, Westmeyer said.

“Sometimes it is empty-handed; sometimes there is a limited variety and other times there is not,” she said. “That’s one of the perks from thrifting.”

Taylor, who used to attend Ohio State University, said Kent State is more fashionable.

“I have been to two campuses and have seen the way students dress — Kent (State) is definitely on the fashion side of things,” Taylor said.

Contact news correspondent Mandi Noyes at [email protected].