With an American Apparel, Urban Outfitters and Gap all within blocks of each other, it can be easy to just stay in town to buy clothes. But Evanston and Chicago offer so much more than the couple blocks close to campus, especially for vintage shopping. And the deadly combination of being a college student with the current economy makes vintage shopping more appealing than ever. With four great places right off the Purple/Red Line alone, there’s nothing to stop you from checking out stores outside the Northwestern bubble.
1. Factory Vintage Clothing
1043 Chicago Ave. (847) 328-7334.
Factory Vintage is an easy walk from the Dempster El stop and almost walking distance from campus. It has an excellent selection of women’s clothing and accessories, ranging from ’40s style hats to ’80s wedding dresses hanging on the wall. Because each piece is picked out, the prices are a little steeper than a regular thrift shop -– but lucky for us students, Factory offers a WildCARD discount. It also has a selection of ’60s magazines, as well as new but cheap sunglasses, costume jewelry and some funky shoes.
2. Unique Thrift Store
7530 N. Western Ave. (773) 338-6898.
Unique is not handpicked vintage; the clothing items sold inside were donated to the store. If you’re looking for a “diamond in the rough” find, this is the place for you. Among the VHS tapes, cassettes and silverware (only 19 cents!), you just may find something to your liking. Unique has many locations, and the one closest to campus is off the Howard stop. However, be warned that it’s a bit of a hike from the station to the store, and it isn’t the kind of neighborhood that you want to be stuck in at night. But for anything from pillows to board games to dresses under $10, Unique is a great place to look.
3. Belmont Army Vintage
855 West Belmont Ave. (773) 549-1038.
Belmont Army Vintage is easy to miss. It is the entire fourth floor of Belmont Army, and the vintage section isn’t particularly well advertised. Yet once you find it and pass the skate shop, the new clothes on the first floor and the shoes and army apparel on the second and third floors, you’ll come to a vintage store with a pretty decent selection and some great deals. Featured prominently is a $1-4 rack, mostly of t-shirts. It has a Western-leaning selection with a lot of cowboy boots and flannel shirts featured. There is also a large men’s section. The prices for the nicer clothes can get a little high, but the majority of the clothes are very reasonably priced.
4. Hollywood Mirror
812 W. Belmont Ave. (773) 404-2044.
If ever you’ve visited the vintage-shopping mecca of New York tourists, Search and Destroy, you already know the vibe of Hollywood Mirror. Unlike the other stores, Mirror is a mix of both vintage and new clothing. You can get a wedding dress for 50 bucks, or pick up a pair of bright gold shoes (they have quite a large collection). They also sell a lot of punk-style clothing and accessories, with skull earrings being one of the first things you see when you walk in. They also have a large collection of comic books (Archie, anyone?) and action figures. If you’re looking for an outrageous dress for a themed party, this is a great place to look. They also have a (admittedly very small) men’s collection.