Winning tip: Baltic bargains, Kiel, Germany
Near where the ferries run to Scandinavia from Kiel, on Germany’s Baltic coast, there is a little secondhand gem. Der Kilo-Laden on Sophienblatt sells vintage Scandi garments by weight. The price goes down every day over a fortnight, until it hits €8 a kilo, before it goes back up again. If you’ve got time to spare before your ferry to Oslo leaves, pop in and buy a fashionable winter coat for under €15 to protect you from the Baltic wind. I still wear my Danish rowing club jumper, my 1980s tracksuit and the Levis that I got at the €1 New Year sale. Yes, for one euro.
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Best-loved pre-loved, Edinburgh
I have been shopping in W Armstrong & Son in Edinburgh since the 1980s. There are three branches, all within walking distance of each other, the largest in Grassmarket. There’s a wide choice of eras, and clothing for men, women and occasionally children at very reasonable prices. I particularly love mid-century clothes and the Grassmarket store has a wide selection. There’s a great ambience, the shops have authentic decor, and the staff are friendly – Armstrongs has been a family business for many years and feels like a well-loved Edinburgh institution.
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Perfect wedding dress, Welshpool, Powys
Ashmans Antiques and Old Lace in Welshpool is a treasure trove of glorious vintage clothes, hats, lace and accessories. There are teetering piles all around but the owner, Diane, is amazing at diving into a rail or a pile and finding exactly the right thing. It feels a bit like entering a shop from a Dickens novel. Without doubt, the best find ever was my wedding dress – which my parents bought without me even being there! They were in the area and asked to look through 1950s-style wedding dresses, and Diane produced a dress which my mum decided was perfect (luckily I agreed!). I wore it for my wedding this summer and it was perfect, and a bargain.
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Belgrade’s burgeoning alternative scene means it has a clutch of decent vintage shops. My favourite is Jane Doe, in a tiny shopfront on Kapetan-Mišina. It sells a curated and tasteful selection of clothes and jewellery. The prices are similar to those you’d expect to pay in a UK vintage shop, but the chance to discover a vintage beauty from the Balkans means it is definitely worth the money.
Nine lives, Amsterdam
Beautiful De Nine Straatjes (the Nine Streets) in Jordaan, Amsterdam, is an area of tree-lined streets, sparkling canals and towering 17th-century houses – and packed full of independent vintage gems. Among the many vintage shops to stroll between my favourites are Marbles Vintage, Laura Dols, Bij Ons and Episode.
Charity shop supreme, Bristol
The Clic Sargent shop on Gloucester Road is the charity’s flagship vintage store, with lots of nicely selected original pieces. There is a great selection of costume jewellery, handmade home items and lace goods, vintage shoes and men’s and women’s clothing. I never leave empty-handed. You can expect some high fashion brands, and also a good playlist on the stereo. The shop is one of many charity and secondhand shops on this hipster Bristol street, and feels like some special care has gone into its clothing selection. It’s a place where you might pick up a vintage Ralph Lauren pussy-bow blouse, or a scarf like the one your zany aunt used to wear.
Mad in Marseille
This city is probably better known for bouillabaisse than bric-a-brac, but there are vintage gems here. Most notable is Mad Vintage, in a grand old building on rue Saint-Ferréol. It’s a mini-department store of recycled clothing, with a central atrium filled with rails of Pucci-style prints, Hawaiian shirts, fatigues, shift dresses and piles of classic Adidas trainers. Afterwards, it’s a short walk to Le Panier for jet-black vanilla and sea-salt ice-cream at Vanille Noire.
Hit the slopes, Lyon
Head to Lyon’s Les Pentes de la Croix Rousse (The Slopes) for dreamy vintage shops. Scattered across a few streets leading up from the town hall to the bohemian La Croix-Rousse area, you’ll find amazing tucked away treasures, from vintage Levi’s jeans to 1990s sweats. My two favourites are Les Jupons de Paulette on rue Romarin and Elephant Vintage Store on rue Hippolyte Flandrin.
All things Yugo, Ljubljana
At the top of a pretty curved street near Ljubljana castle, Verba is a real treasure trove of memorabilia from old Yugoslavia. It’s a warren of rooms with so many knick-knacks dripping off the ceilings and walls your eyes will pop at the amount of stuff to take in. Every aspect of life in the Yugoslav years is covered: toys, badges, and tons of sports paraphernalia. It’s a real shrine to a lost era and a great place to stock up on kitsch souvenirs. Grab a coffee in-house and, if you like, chat to the owner about growing up under communist rule.
• No website, Študentovska ulica 13,
My father’s delight, Porto
At Mon Père Vintage I saw so many amazing, great-value finds that I didn’t have enough baggage allowance to take home all the things I wanted to buy. The mother and daughter who run the store were super-helpful both times I visited. The last time I went I bought a few vintage shirts that were in pristine condition, a leather jacket and a dress – all for just €38.
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