If you’re in the market for a pink polka dot one-piece circa 1964, look no further than Oakland’s Pretty Penny (where you can also consign). If felt hats and men’s button-downs are more your style, Mars on Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley has what you need.
But, if you’re a true vintage junkie and nothing but a sweetheart neckline and floor-length crinolines will do, head to the Treasure Island Flea the last weekend of every month. The Flea features crafts, antiques, food trucks, live music, jewelry, specialty food, and all the Greece-inspired letterman jackets you could ever want. The market itself isn’t as large as I expected, but the quality of vintage items is superb. Just be prepared to pay accordingly.
For sheer quantity, the Bay Area vintage mecca is undoubtedly Haight-Ashbury. There are hippies, hipsters, and hobos, but also ponchos, pearls, and poodle skirts. Within a 3-block radius—between Haight and Ashbury and Haight and Shrader—there are seven vintage shops, plus a Crossroads, Buffalo Exchange, and Goodwill that also stock vintage pieces. My favorite haunts are Held Over, Decades of Fashion, and Wasteland (though Wasteland is moving in the direction of new, boutique items).
Now you know where to go, but how to find items tailored for the tall? I can often find dresses and blouses in large sizes, but pants and skirts, not so much (who has a 25” waist!?). And they just didn’t make shoes above about a woman’s 9 before the modern day (ask my mom and her overworked podiatrist). To help you find your fit, vintage retailer HeyViv! and the team at The Flourishing Abode offer tips about old-school sizing and clothing modification. Hint: find a good tailor!
The past is always in fashion.