News features Something old, something new: 15 of the best vintage shops in the UK

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Something old, something new: 15 of the best vintage shops in the UK

Want to give your winter wardrobe a makeover? Or are you looking for quirky souvenirs to bring back after a weekend city break? We’ve got it covered with these top 14 vintage boutiques in the UK. Time to start practicing your epic strut… There’s no lovelier souvenir of a magical weekend away than a one-off tweed hat or art deco bangle. Vintage stores tend to congregate in the prettiest parts of town, making a boutique crawl a reliably good introduction to a new destination. So, let yourself be guided by the trail of Edwardian lace, 1960s pillbox hats and 1980s sequins and check out these retro treasure troves.

1. Lark, 20 Paul Street, Frome, Somerset

Frome is one of the most charming towns in Somerset – and an untapped source for any mean bargain hunters searching for second-hand goodies in need of a new home. Tucked atop cobblestoned Catherine Hill you’ll find this beautiful two-floor vintage boutique, just around the corner from the cute Garden Cafe if you need to refuel mid-plunder. Rummage through the rails, or check out their selection of luggage and furniture. The new store opens this autumn, having relocated from another spot nearby. Word is that local designer Pearl Lowe sells her collection here, so there’s plenty here to tempt you. Open from 10am until 4pm Tuesday and Wednesday, 5pm the rest of the week, closed on Sundays.

2. Madam Popoff, 4 King Street, Margate

Margate is the new darling of the arts world right now, with visitors filing in to see the Grayson Perry exhibition at the Turner Contemporary, or getting their retro kicks at the lovingly restored Dreamland Margate. Numerous designers and makers are forsaking London’s high prices to open stores in this gutsy British seaside town, so there’s nowhere better to come for a weekend of sea, sand and shopping. Madame Popoff’s is our favourite vintage store in town, stocking everything from the high-end (think 1970s Ossie Clark gowns) to cheap and cheerful 1960s mod frocks. Don’t fret though if you can’t get down to the Kentish coast, they also retail some of their items on Asos and Etsy.

3. Cow, 156-160 West Street, Sheffield

The Cow collective is not a farmers’ alliance, but five stores in Birmingham, Nottingham, Manchester and Sheffield. The spiffy refurb of the Sheffield outpost makes this one the winner in our books. The emphasis is on fun retro prints, stonewash denim and military jackets, and the superb blog section on the website provides bucket-loads of inspiration for how to style your new purchase right. Open until 7pm Monday to Saturday, you can even sneak in after work or just before hitting some of Sheffield’s best bars to get a killer look for that big night out.

4. Those Were The Days, 26 St Stephen Street, Edinburgh

Armstrong’s is an Edinburgh icon (and definitely worth investing some time to go and check out) but this dinky, divinely-decorated basement wonderland stocks a higher calibre of vintage pieces. You’ll find Chanel cashmere pullovers, Givenchy suit jackets and Lanvin pussy-bow blouses, along with a beautifully curated selection of vintage and antique costume jewellery. They’re also vintage bridal wear specialists with gowns starting at £150, so if you’re looking for a unique dress for the Big Day book a session in their bridal showroom and check out their ever changing collection. Once you’re done finding ‘the one’ head to one of Edinburgh’s finest drinking dens and raise a toast to a successful day of shopping.

5. Hobo’s, 26 High Street Arcade, Cardiff

This colourful, chaotic, relatively affordable retro boutique specialises in 1960s to 1980s high street clothing. Go for cool Converse and denim cut-offs in summer, or chunky statement knits when the temperatures drop. They don’t yet have a website, but we’ve been promised it’s coming very soon. A note-perfect cheap-and-cheerful city vintage store, just a stone’s throw from Cardiff Castle – just one of the UK’s right royal residences, but there are others, look here.

6. William Vintage, 2 Marylebone Street, Central London

When a star needs a vintage gown for a strut along the red carpet (or for a boozy lunch at celebrity haunt Chiltern Firehouse around the corner) this is their go-to boutique. Expect 1970s Halston frocks, 1950s Chanel boucle skirt suits, Dior capes and 1960s Yves Saint Laurent jackets. This by-appointment only boutique, set over two floors, is decadent beyond belief – you even get Valrhona chocolates on arrival and silk rugs in the changing rooms to strut your stuff on! It’s seriously high-end stuff, but their dreamy Instagram feed supplies vintage kicks for free. For more inspirational Instagram accounts you should follow for travel and lifestyle inspiration, check this out.

7. Cha-Cha-Cha Vintage, 20-22 Avenue Mews, Muswell Hill, London

An expertly curated collection of homeware, clothing and accessories from every decade of the twentieth century, CHA-CHA-CHA also sell online, but you’re missing out majorly if you skip the bricks-and-mortar shop. Housed in an adorable Muswell Hill mews, a stroll around this store will equip you with everything you could possibly need for a vintage inspired tea party, from a 1950s pinafore dress to a candy-hued china tea set. But you’ll have to plan your trip carefully to not miss out, as the store is only open Thursday to Saturday 11am – 5pm.

8. Tadema Gallery, 10 Charlton Pl, Islington, London

Yes, it’s an antique jewellery shop, but this Islington icon is also a mini-museum, presenting a whistle-stop tour of European artistic movements and design trends throughout the nineteenth and twentieth century – plus there are no admission fees! Founded in 1978 by Sonya and David Newell-Smith, who have a special interest in artist-designed jewellery from 1850-1970, the Tadema Gallery is a lesson in good taste. Open on Saturdays only (or by appointment otherwise) 1pm until 5pm.

9. Glory Days, 22 Walmgate, York

York is a mecca for vintage clothing fans, with prices that will make a Londoner’s eyes pop. This completely dreamy vintage bridal wear boutique, just inside the old city walls and run by dressmaker and costume designer Hayley Claire Neil, offers original vintage gowns as well as a made-to-order service that rustles up vintage-inspired wedding dresses in any size and fabric. When you’ve found your dream dress, celebrate with coffee and cake from the Eastern European café Barbakan just down the road.

10. Susan Hayward Vintage, 16 Post Office Avenue, Southport

You’ll find no cigarette burns or yellowed underarm patches in Susan’s stringently selected vintage collection; she is fastidious about the condition of her offerings. Instead you’ll discover a small but perfectly formed array of vintage clothing, jewellery and accessories dating from the 1900s to the 1970s. Peruse nineteenth century silk stockings from France, 1970s silk blouses and 1920s beaded capes; her online store is equally beguiling. Closed Mondays, Susan’s emporium is open from 10am until 5:30pm, unless it’s a Sunday when you can shop from 12pm until 4pm.

11. Junk Shop, 2 Dale Street, Manchester

This is the sort of shop that will make you wish you lived next door – although your bank balance might not thank you for it – and it would sure be a nice life, in Manchester’s bustling Northern Quarter. Junk Shop is an independent boutique with a beautiful selection of vintage jewellery, retro clothing and – the best bit – upcycled and sustainable fashion. They also do courses in everything from dressmaking to styling to jewellery design – and support local small-scale designers and makers. See? It’s perfect.

12. Hope & Harlequin, 32 Sydney Street, Brighton

Brighton is famed for its fashion scene, with its creative communities and tremendous night life. This legendary vintage collection recently moved to a larger space adjacent to the original store. Which means even more Edwardian silk wedding dresses, beaded 1920s capelets, vibrant 1950s swimming costumes and pillbox hats. They also create bespoke wedding dresses from vintage patterns. Open Monday, Wednesday and Sunday, you may be able to get in at other times but you must ring for an appointment.

13. Snoopers Paradise, 7-8 Kensington Gardens, North Laine, Brighton

Another gem from Brighton’s lanes, lined with petite antique stores and independent boutiques, Snoopers Paradise is a pick above the rest. Hours slip by in this cavernous shrine to colourful curiosities. You’ll come away with vintage vinyl, a pair of 1940s lace gloves, a pineapple-shaped ice box and a bumper collection of comics from the 1960s. Open 10am – 6pm Monday to Saturday and 11am – 4pm on a Sunday.

14. The Rusty Zip, 28 Botanic Avenue, Belfast

Right in the hip heart of Belfast’s university district, The Rusty Zip stocks a reliably brilliant collection of vintage furs, Donegal tweed jackets, flower-power 1970s frocks and a towering pile of hats in all fabrics and shapes. The rock bottom prices mean you can kit yourself out in style and still have plenty of change for a few pints of Guinness at The Empire Music Hall up the road. Open from 10am every day (except Sundays, 2pm) they’re also open for late night shopping on Thursdays until 8pm. For more on what to see and do in Belfast, check out this local’s city guide.

15. Starry Starry Night, 19 Dowanside Lane, Glasgow

Byres Road is the beating heart of Glasgow’s fashionable, if not slightly Yuccie, West End. But duck into Ashton, Ruthven and Dowanside Lanes and you’ll be transported back to a time when women were never seen without a pair of high heels and men still wore hats in the house. Since 1986 Starry Starry Night has been stocking antique clothing dating back to the Victorian and Edwardian periods, as well as more fun taffeta 1980s prom dresses and sequinned mohair jumpers. A little further down you’ll find Relic, also worth dedicating yourself to an hour or so of treasure hunting. Open seven days a week 10am – 5:30pm, Sundays 11am – 5pm. If you’re in town for the weekend, get planning where to go and what to see in Glasgow with our handy city guide.

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