A few weeks ago, I had the fortunate misfortune of inheriting my grandmother’s wardrobe. As a merchandise manager for Neiman Marcus in the mid-1980s, she was a discerning fashion enthusiast with a closet that reflected her keenness. As a result, I welcomed in large boxes of her sample sale finds, once-forgotten gems, and status-symbol pieces, arranging them to fit inside my Manhattan-sized apartment.
St. John’s was her preferred label of affection, followed by Jil Sander and Misook. Stand collar jackets with crepe marocain flap pockets and heavy sailor buttons felt like works of art. Sadly, such art doesn’t always fit and is often accompanied by the distinctive shoulder pads of its time. Instead, I was encouraged to take the pieces to consignment and “do something meaningful” with the money. But considering that shopping compulsions seem to be hereditary, my DNA would have compelled me to find “something meaningful” at Bloomingdales.
Regardless, I set out to vintage traders and designer consignments throughout New York. I was repeatedly met with the same apologetic response: “I’m sorry. That look just doesn’t sell here. Perhaps you should try stores farther uptown.” Yet shop after shop continued to lament, “We don’t accept that silhouette in this store. It’s rather outdated.”
Three Saturdays ago, I eventually found myself farther uptown that I ever wanted to be on a weekend, 75th Street and Lexington. A monotone hipster-wannabe in a headband and messy bun suggested that I “just donate the clothes for a tax write-off or something.” After a moment of death-stare-silence, I stormed out of the store and into the toddler-friendly, health-nut-jogging, annoying-as-all-hell Upper East Side sidewalks muttering tearful expletives. But before my Sam Edelman wedges could find a small dog in a Burberry pullover to kick, I found myself crying in the inconspicuous second floor studio of Bruce Cameron Clark Clothier.
With a soothing certainty, Bruce assured me that I wouldn't have to throw away these cherished threads, nor would I have to surrender my apartment to boxes of clothing I could not wear. I intuitively trusted the cordial Englishman, at the time unaware of his celebrity and socialite clientele. By some force of fashion nature, my incidental outburst led me into the same expert hands who have handled the wardrobes of Mick Jagger, Ringo Starr, and Charlie Watts.
So last week, I found myself back on Lexington Avenue near 75th street. I stopped by the vintage consignment in a black waist-length St. John's knit with blue trim, tiny grommets, and elaborate zipper-pull. The Urban Outfitter-clad sophomore looked up from the scarves she was folding to tell me that she liked my top. I responded with another ten seconds of death-stare-silence and then left. You can't shoplift vindication, but you can certainly pay for it.
Post by Amanda LaMela