Hi. My name’s Jo, and I’m addicted to window shopping in vintage clothes shops. And I really do mean window shopping as I rarely ever buy anything, but still they lure me in every time. It makes it difficult getting down into town when I have to walk past at least five different vintage boutiques!
My first foray into proper vintage clothes shops was about fifteen years ago when I lived in Bath. Although I was no stranger to the flea markets of Brighton and London, visiting a proper vintage boutique was a new experience for me. The first one I discovered was a tatty, overstuffed nightmare of a shop (which shall remain nameless as it’s still in business and little has changed!). It was barely a step up from a flea market stall, and the shop reeked of dank and mothballs—not a winning combination. It wasn’t much fun to shop in either, as the clothes didn’t seem to be arranged in any particular order, and they were stuffed onto the rails so tightly it was hard work to browse through them. Worse yet, there were rails all the way up to the ceiling, and the only way to view the clothes on the top rails was to ask the surly assistant to take them down for you.
Those of you who’ve read Stuff will probably recognise this shop as the model for Cabbages and Kinks as it was at the beginning of the novel.
Fortunately there were more inspiring outlets for vintage and retro clothing available in Bath. The Yellow Shop down Walcot Street had much more of a hipster vibe and the staff were helpful. There wasn’t nearly as much vintage stuff in there as they also stocked new clothes, but at least what was there was arranged attractively and everything had clearly been vetted for quality. However, despite being a fairly regular customer there, this wasn’t the shop that really got me enthused about all things vintage.
That honour falls to Vintage to Vogue, a shop that I discovered one day when taking a short cut through a passageway from the Broad Street car park onto Milsom Street. I’d lived in Bath for several years by this point, but had never heard of this hidden gem. Compared to the other vintage shops, Vintage to Vogue was more like a museum of costume. There were fabulous designer clothes from all decades of the twentieth century, and you could even find such treasures as lacy Victorian blouses on their racks. One thing I particularly liked were the tables with jars of vintage buttons and baskets of lace and handkerchiefs. It meant that even at my most broke, I could still take home something special.
It’s the kind of clothing I found in Vintage to Vogue that inspired the contents (and eventual transformation) of Perry’s shop in Stuff. I wanted Mas to sort through all Perry’s hidden treasures and bring them into the light, so they could carry on giving people joy in the twenty-first century.
Are you a vintage shopper? Or even just a window shopper? And if so, what kind of vintage shops do you like to visit?
THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED
Stuff is out now from Samhain Publishing, and is book two in The Bristol Collection (which started with Junk)
Tobias “Mas” Maslin doesn’t need much. A place of his own, weekends of clubbing, a rich boyfriend for love and support. Too bad his latest sugar daddy candidate turns out to be married with kids. Mas wants to be special, not someone’s dirty little secret.
When he loses his job and his flat on the same day, his worlds starts unraveling…until he stumbles across a vintage clothing shop. Now to convince the reclusive, eccentric owner he’s in dire need of a salesman.
Perry Cavendish-Fiennes set up Cabbages and Kinks solely to annoy his controlling father. Truth be told, he’d rather spend every spare moment on his true passion, art. When Mas comes flaming into his life talking nineteen to the dozen, he finds himself offering him a job and a place to live.
He should have listened to his instincts. The shop is already financially on the brink, and Mas’s flirting makes him feel things he’s never felt for a man. Yet Mas seems convinced they can make a go of it—in the shop, and together.
Warning: Contains an eccentric, bumbling Englishman, a gobby drama queen, fantastic retro clothing, scary fairies, exes springing out of the woodwork, and a well-aimed glass of bubbly. Written in brilliantly British English.
Author bio: English through and through, Josephine Myles is addicted to tea and busy cultivating a reputation for eccentricity. She writes gay erotica and romance, but finds the erotica keeps cuddling up to the romance, and the romance keeps corrupting the erotica. She blames her rebellious muse but he never listens to her anyway, no matter how much she threatens him with a big stick. She’s beginning to suspect he enjoys it.
Jo publishes regularly with Samhain, and has also been known to edit anthologies and self-publish, although she prefers to leave the “boring bits” of the book creation process to someone else.