Best Vintage | Couture 2011 | Fashion by Robert Black | Shopping & Services | Phoenix
When Phoenicians think of fashion, the name that comes to mind is Robert Black, who began his career as a model and talent agent in the '80s and went on to found the Ford Robert Black Agency. Today, instead of models, Black is offering the clothes off their backs. His Fashion by Robert Black, located in the landmark White Hogan building in downtown Scottsdale's arts district, looks like an especially well-organized dressing room from days gone by. Black and his shopping partner, Doreen Picerne, have scoured the globe in search of a whole new experience in vintage, red-carpet couture for men and women. Unlike any other local vintage clothing store, Fashion by Robert Black was an instant hit when it opened late last year. Black's stock is all one-of-a-kind vintage couture; you won't find any off-the-rack or homemade stuff here. There's nowhere better to play retro fashionista than Robert Black Fashion.
"I make it easy to find a funky piece," says Misty Guerriero, the namesake of our favorite new downtown vintage spot, Vintage by Misty. Israel, London, Paris, Canada, Vegas — Guerriero's eclectic mix of cool clothing, jewelry, and housewares spans the globe. Her stock generally reflects whatever she likes at the moment — right now, that's Missoni prints, giant gold Mimi belt buckles, and anything made from shells. Sip espresso in the back bar area of her boutique off Central Avenue, then shop the racks and cases jammed with colorful, graphic (often designer) apparel and truly unique jewelry at a range of price points.
Our dad used to wear wool cardigans, which made us want to barf with embarrassment. Now, we collect them — and our lives would be lacking if it weren't for Antique Sugar, which not only offers the best in vintage off-the-rack fashion, but has a men's department, as well. That's rare in a vintage clothing store, but not at this swell, roomy boutique, where co-owners Sarah and Ann-Marie have gathered together an astonishing array of mint-condition, lovely-to-look-at garments. But don't just look — try something on! At these prices, collectors of old clothes are right behind you, hoping you won't buy that 1950s felt circle skirt or that great '60s sharkskin suit with the embroidered lapels. After you've selected your new costume, get busy accessorizing — with shoes, bags, and cases filled with amazing costume jewelry, all of it as old as Grandma but twice as shiny! No wonder this place is called Antique Sugar — shopping here is sweet!
Butter Toast's new digs in a historic home off Roosevelt Row house one of the best selections of vintage threads around, with the kind of filmy tops, broomstick skirts, and cotton dresses that make up a sweet Bohemian-chic wardrobe. Prices are affordable: $15 for a floral romper, $40 for a red pleated party dress. Our favorite perk of shopping here is co-owner Jasmine Jarrett's excellent eye for what looks good on customers. If you fail to bring in your BFF for a second opinion on that lime green mod shift, Jarrett will give you the lowdown (or the letdown) on whether your thighs look like twigs or tree trunks.
Is it the fact that we never leave this great treasure trove empty-handed? Is it that the friendly staff routinely tips us off to sales at other, nearby antique stores? Is it the fact that this place shares a parking lot with Flo's, one of the best thrift stores in town? When you're talking Zinnias on Melrose, the answer is "yes" to all. This 15,000-square-foot vintage-and-collectibles mall features 36 different vendors, where bargain hunters have scored everything from a 1950s chrome dining set to a pair of chandelier earrings once worn by Mama Cass on the Tonight Show. Proprietor Michael Robertson knows the business: He grew up in his great-grandparents' antique shop and has been scouting estate sales across the nation for decades. He hauls his fab finds back to Phoenix, and we're grateful he does.
Hidden in the shadow of the beautiful Wright House events space, you will find a little old house with a hand-painted sign that you have probably overlooked hundred of times while making the commute from Mesa to Tempe. Waiting inside is an eclectic collection of unique antiques with price tags that won't send you running back to the thrift stores. Cherry Street is packed from floor to ceiling with everything from vintage furs to antique clocks. Set aside a chunk of your day to search through the treasure chests of jewelry and rummage through the mountains of kitchen goods. The selection is always changing, and the woman behind the counter is as sweet as pie and more than willing to help you find whatever it may be that you're looking for.
It's true: People can live perfectly happily having only ever purchased dinged-up, scratched antique furniture. Nobody needs a perfectly preserved dining room suite from 1930 that one can just haul home, set up, and admire without all the fussing around with scratch cover or — worse! — stripper and refinisher. But just once, consider buying a piece of old furniture that doesn't need to be rescued, just to be admired. And when you do, think about doing it at this often-overlooked trove, where the prices are more than fair. We did. A French Deco bed we saw there was calling our name and, even at a price point higher than one we'd have had to restore, it was worth it — because we went from admiring it to sleeping in it, that very same night. Cheap is good, but everyone deserves a splurge every now and then.Readers' Choice:
We put it off for as long as we could: buying a runner for the downstairs hallway in our old, old house. It needed to be an antique, but not too worn-looking. A reproduction wouldn't do (too new-looking), and we knew what that meant: Pulling out a big wad of cash, because vintage rugs in decent shape are hard to come by. But we weren't counting on the newly renovated QCumberz, a kinder, gentler place to shop, thanks to new owners who've reorganized and re-staffed the entire joint. We were surprised to find a half-dozen vintage rugs for sale, several in great shape and all priced to move. We settled on an all-wool, 1920s Clementine Souza rug with a Greek key pattern and most of its original fringe still in place. We got it for a song and had a nice chat with the friendly proprietor on our way out, promising to stop back in soon — and even if we don't need another rug, we'll be there!

Best Antique Store to Buy Jewelry for Your Girlfriend

Rare Lion Antiques & Jewelry

As pop star Neil Sedaka stated in his 1962 hit, breaking up is hard to do. Especially when there are so many ways to win your way back into the affections of your paramour. There are flowers, expensive gifts, heartfelt apologies, and good old-fashioned begging. If you're hoping that jewelry will do the trick, definitely go talk to Michelle Francis over at Rare Lion in Tempe. The antique shop owner has a particular knack for helping clueless Romeos pick out the perfect pendant or necklace as a making-up gift (or perhaps a birthday or Christmas present as well). Inside a pair of glass cases, Francis keeps a vast selection of bangles, baubles, and bracelets, all of which are of the vintage or antique variety. State what your gal's tastes are, and she'll use her sixth sense to figure out what her heart desires most, like maybe a cute pair of marcasite earrings. If things go your way, bub, she also stocks a variety of gorgeous rings that might be aces when popping the question.
We waited 'til the last minute to buy an Easter gift for a friend of ours who collects jadite, that pretty pale green glassware that was so popular in the 1930s (and has been co-opted by Martha Stewart in recent years). We figured, jadite is hot right now, and there's a ton of it out there and it'll be easy to find! We were wrong. And Easter was nigh. After driving around for hours, from one antique shop to the next, we finally landed at Antique Marketplace, located now in its new, cool, and ever-expanding digs at Seventh Avenue and Osborn. We wept to Marketplace owner Joel about our jadite woes, and he got on the horn and, before you could say "old rare dishware!" he'd found a dealer who was selling a really nice handled jadite Fire King toothpaste tumbler. While Joel was on the phone, we wandered around and noticed that Marketplace offers a lot of stuff we never see at other antique shops. Like a whole case full of fully restored vintage telephones. And a gold-rimmed Jeannette glass bowl that we haven't seen anywhere other than on eBay. And a shelf full of vintage seltzer dispensers in every shade of blue. Clearly, this is the best place to find that rare collectible you're looking everywhere for.

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