Portland, Oregon isn’t just a mecca for bearded bikers, doughnut lovers (Google “Voodoo Doughnuts” immediately if you’re not yet acquainted), and those looking to “put a bird on it”—it’s also home to some of the best curated vintage boutiques in the United States. Get acquainted with some of our favourite spots in the city, as well as the owners and employees who are responsible for stocking the racks full of the treasure you’ll soon be eager to dig through.
By Caitlin Smith. Photographed by Alicia J. Rose
LODEKKA DOUBLE DECKER DRESS SHOP
3925 N Williams Ave.
Neighbourhood: North PDX
Owner: Erin Sutherland
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT WORKING WITH VINTAGE CLOTHING? That each piece is one-of-a-kind, as opposed to today's ready-to-wear options that are mass-produced.
DESCRIBE PORTLAND'S STYLE IN THREE WORDS: Contentedly anti-establishment.
PERSONAL STYLE ICON: Diane Keaton in the 1970s.
TURN ONS: Cold beer, good food, creative collaborations.
TURN OFFS: Snarky attitudes, small minds, and jean shorts (but don't tell my dad).
BEST FIND WHILE SHOPPING FOR VINTAGE: Four pairs of mint condition 1950s women's Blue Bell denim jeans with the original tags.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT PORTLAND? The entrepreneurial spirit.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE LEAST ABOUT PORTLAND? The unpredictable weather.
YOU CAN OFTEN BE HEARD SAYING: “Oh, I love it!”
MOST PRIZED POSSESSION: My wedding dress, which belonged to my mother-in-law and was made with silk her father brought back from Korea.
GO-TO KARAOKE SONG: It's a toss-up—either “Wanted Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi or “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man” by Aretha Franklin.
LIFE PHILOSOPHY: Ask the universe for what you want, but be prepared to return the favour.
FAVOURITE ERA AND WHY: The 1950s. I find everything from that decade to be aesthetically pleasing—the clothing, architecture, furniture, etc.
WHAT MOVIE MAKES YOU CRY? Whale Rider. I blubber every time. I'm starting to tear up just thinking about it.
FAVOURITE ITEM CURRENTLY IN-STORE: A 1950s mint green lace cupcake dress.
413 SW. 13th Ave.
Owner: Sarah Radcliffe
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT WORKING WITH VINTAGE CLOTHING? I like reinterpreting trends from the past, and making them contemporary. It's very rewarding to see my customers style their own looks with vintage pieces from Yo Vintage! mixed in with designer/high-street finds.
DESCRIBE PORTLAND'S STYLE IN THREE WORDS: Eclectic, individual, beard-y.
PERSONAL STYLE ICON: I get a lot of inspiration from street style, my sister Colette, and my best mate Emma.
TURN ONS: Coral lipstick, printed Nike trainers, big chunky necklaces, oversized lady coats, leather, matchy-matchy suits.
TURN OFFS: Not dressing for your size and shape.
BEST FIND WHILE SHOPPING FOR VINTAGE: There are so many great pieces that I've found in the past, but the best find recently was an amazing Missoni cardigan.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT PORTLAND? There are loads of amazing small businesses that are hugely supportive of each other—the community is really inspiring.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE LEAST ABOUT PORTLAND? The long wait in line for my favorite breakfast spots.
YOU CAN OFTEN BE HEARD SAYING: “Ducks in a row!”
MOST PRIZED POSSESSION: Agnes, my dog.
GO-TO KARAOKE SONG: Anything by Phil Collins.
LIFE PHILOSOPHY: My Mum always says, “You can do anything you want to do,” and that's helped me start my own business.
FAVOURITE ERA AND WHY: The 1990s—The Spice Girls, London, and girl power!
WHAT MOVIE MAKES YOU CRY? Dead Man's Shoes.
FAVOURITE ITEM CURRENTLY IN-STORE: An absolutely amazing printed Egyptian two-piece smoking suit.
4000 N. Mississippi Ave.
Neighbourhood: North Portland
Merchandiser: Lauren Kemp
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT WORKING WITH VINTAGE CLOTHING? Vintage garments are like little time machines to make you feel for a moment you are living in another time and place.
DESCRIBE PORTLAND'S STYLE IN THREE WORDS: Pragmatic, casual, thoughtful.
PERSONAL STYLE ICON: Anna Karina.
TURN ONS: Old raglan sweatshirts, foreign films, DIY.
TURN OFFS: Negativity, worry, hot weather.
BEST FIND WHILE SHOPPING FOR VINTAGE: 1940s womens’ blazers for $10 each!
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT PORTLAND? All of the vegan food.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE LEAST ABOUT PORTLAND? Parking tickets.
YOU CAN OFTEN BE HEARD SAYING: “Story of my life!”
MOST PRIZED POSSESSION: My Vitamix blender.
GO-TO KARAOKE SONG: “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes.
LIFE PHILOSOPHY: “If you don't take 'no' for an answer, there is still a chance you'll get what you want.” – Chow Mo Wan [from Wong Kar-Wai’s 2046]
FAVOURITE ERA AND WHY: I love the 1930s because Elsa Schiaparelli introduced Surrealism into the world of fashion.
WHAT MOVIE MAKES YOU CRY? La Strada.
FAVOURITE ITEM CURRENTLY IN-STORE: A 1950s monogrammed cardigan.
ROCK 'N' ROSE
616 E. Burnside St.
Neighbourhood: Lower Burnside
Buyer/Designer: Amanda Otto
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT WORKING WITH VINTAGE CLOTHING? Being able to see all the trends from different eras.
DESCRIBE PORTLAND'S STYLE IN THREE WORDS: Eclectic, safe, personal.
PERSONAL STYLE ICON: Not other style icons.
TURN ONS: High contrast.
TURN OFFS: Unhealthy egos.
BEST FIND WHILE SHOPPING FOR VINTAGE: Anything with fur.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT PORTLAND? We’re spoiled here.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE LEAST ABOUT PORTLAND? I wish we would push forward more in fashion.
YOU CAN OFTEN BE HEARD SAYING: I’m well known for my one-liners. My most infamous one, “Only time will tell," is tattooed on me.
MOST PRIZED POSSESSION: My ability to make most anything work.
GO-TO KARAOKE SONG: I last attempted Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.”
LIFE PHILOSOPHY: Evolve or die.
FAVOURITE ERA AND WHY: The 1960s and 1970s. The music, the cars, the fashion—I was definitely there in another life.
WHAT MOVIE MAKES YOU CRY? I haven’t seen it yet.
FAVOURITE ITEM CURRENTLY IN-STORE: All of these combat, roper, and cowboy boots!
1609 NE. Alberta St.
Neighbourhood: Northeast Portland
Owners: Elissa Hall and Katie Freedle (pictured left to right)
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT WORKING WITH VINTAGE CLOTHING? I've collected vintage clothing since I was 14 years old. As I began to develop my sense of style and self, I latched onto icons like Marlene Dietrich, Josephine Baker, and Patti Smith.
PERSONAL STYLE ICON: Yves Saint Laurent's Le Smoking Collection inspires me daily. The actresses from Godard films, specifically Anna Karina, all embody dramatic femininity and, currently, I admire Molly Nilsson's noir minimalism.
TURN ONS: Handcrafted design, simplicity, quality, personal style.
TURN OFFS: Mass-produced design.
BEST FIND WHILE SHOPPING FOR VINTAGE: My mother found me an exquisite 1940s cardigan once.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT PORTLAND? I can always find great shows, art openings, and events, and it’s all situated within a supportive community. I also love the distinct seasons and our proximity to grand, beautiful landscapes.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE LEAST ABOUT PORTLAND? Lack of funds and well-paid jobs for young artists.
YOU CAN OFTEN BE HEARD SAYING: I don't like to waste words. I smile a lot. I say "hello."
MOST PRIZED POSSESSION: My grandfather's vintage Kershaw knife, a silk 1940s dress, and my Gretsch guitar.
GO-TO KARAOKE SONG: Anything by Al Green.
LIFE PHILOSOPHY: Be here now.
FAVOURITE ERA AND WHY: 1940s and late 1970s. The 1940s unarguably represents the most glamorous, luxurious style era, largely due to an emphasis on tailoring. The late 1970s reflects a shift of public consciousness with the rise of punk rock music.
WHAT MOVIE MAKES YOU CRY? Documentaries.
FAVOURITE ITEM CURRENTLY IN-STORE: A velvet cape. It's quilted with golden satin lining and the rich velvet is high drama.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT WORKING WITH VINTAGE CLOTHING? My mother is also a vintage collector, so I have many memories of eccentric estate sales and hidden thrift stores. It’s like I’ve been training to pick for years.
DESCRIBE PORTLAND'S STYLE IN THREE WORDS: Nostalgic, loud, cozy.
PERSONAL STYLE ICON: Tavi Gevinson, Edie Sedgwick, Cher.
TURN ONS: Silk! One-pieces; anything high-waisted, plunging backs, printed socks, and velvet.
TURN OFFS: Ill-fitting pants and made-in-China labels.
BEST FIND WHILE SHOPPING FOR VINTAGE: I found a 1970s champagne floral velvet kimono jacket with amazing long fringe a few years ago and died!
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT PORTLAND? The tight-knit community, which greatly supports independent craftsmanship and young artists, makes it so special. Also, the amount of quaint bridges and food carts!
WHAT DO YOU LOVE LEAST ABOUT PORTLAND? Most people will say the weather, but I think experiencing all four seasons throughout the year (even the rain) is so magical!
YOU CAN OFTEN BE HEARD SAYING: I tend to meow at my friends.
GO-TO KARAOKE SONG: “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac.
LIFE PHILOSOPHY: Be yourself.
FAVOURITE ERA AND WHY: I tend to gravitate toward garments from the 1970s disco era. I have lots of vibrant colours and patterns, flowy silhouettes, onesies, and flirty sheer pieces in my wardrobe.
FAVOURITE ITEM CURRENTLY IN-STORE: A 1970s crushed velvet pastel floral printed halter-top pant suit.