Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Fashion Gods Get Their Way

Fate exists, and I've got the dress to prove it.

A couple of weeks ago I was taking a walk through the East Village one evening, enjoying the gorgeous weather, when something in a shop window caught my eye. A bright blue vintage (or at least vintage-looking) 1950's-style cocktail dress was hanging in the window, the exuberant color contrasting beautifully with the modest cut and flowy silk chiffon fabric. The store, called Pink Olive, was closed and I had places to go, so I decided I'd stop back another time.

A week later I was returning from brunch with my boyfriend and as we bickered over something silly, I saw the dress again, still unsold and beautiful as ever. Too consumed in my argument, I didn't stop but again made a mental note to return during business hours.

It was a busy week and I never had the time to go back to the store, until a few nights ago, when my friend Sara and I were catching up on gossip and taking a leisurely stroll through the neighborhood. I remembered the dress and made a point to stop by the boutique. It was 7 pm and the store was empty, but the owner invited us in to browse. I made a beeline for the dress and tentatively asked what size it was and how much it cost.

To be honest, boutiques scare me, as the nice ones are always incredibly overpriced and the bad ones sell the same crap you could buy at any Macy's. It's hard to find your size in a brand you're unfamiliar with, and they can't compete with the selection of a department store. Also, I often get an elitist vibe from a lot of boutiques, like there's a coolness standard one must meet before being allowed to browse the racks. And when it comes to vintage stores, nothing ever fits because apparently every woman living before 1970 weighed 110 lbs. For these reasons and others, I didn't get my hopes up that the dress would ever be mine.

The owner, an incredibly friendly and bubbly woman named Grace, gave me the background on the dress. She found it in a thrift store upstate, it was definitely from the 1950's and it's the only one she found or seen. It was a size 6 and priced at $120 (higher than what I'd normally spend, but very reasonable in my eyes). I went into the back room to try it on, and lo and behold, it fit perfectly. I walked out to model it to Sara and Grace, who by now had heard my whole spiel about being obsessed with the dress for 3 weeks.

They oohed and ahhed as I did my best supermodel impression and we all agreed that the fashion gods must want me to have it, because everything came together perfectly (the credit card gods may not have felt the same way, but I'll deal with them later).

With the dress officially mine, Sara and I spent some time browsing through the store and chatting with Grace. She'd just opened Pink Olive 3 months earlier, realizing a lifelong dream of owning her own boutique. She'd previously worked as a buyer for Saks, Bloomingdale's and Barney's. The store carries a mix of vintage clothing, jewelry and accessories, seasonal clothes by young designers, and gifts for women and kids. It's the kind of place that you want to browse through for hours, as Grace did a beautiful job choosing and arranging interesting and unexpected objects. The prices are also reasonable, most items ranging between $40 and $150, but with a lot of things priced under $30.

It's a fun little store and Grace is an extremely personable woman, and if you're in New York, I'd highly recommend stopping in for a look. Pink Olive is located at 9th Street and Avenue A, at the end of a long stretch of boutiques on 9th. It's a great area for window (or real) shopping and there are a lot of great restaurants in the area.

Now all I need to do is start finding excuses to wear my new dress... cocktail party, anyone?


Deja Pseu said...

Lovely dress, and it looks great on you!

Anita said...

Very nice! As I buy almost all my clothing from Goodwill, resale shops & vintage boutiques, I've learned that sizes are just a starting point; the whole thing is fit. I must have 6 different sizes in my closet at the moment. Buying used is the ultimate in recycling, and a treasure hunt to boot. Love your blog! Just discovered it.

Pat said...

That dress is adorable -what a find! I'm coming to NYC in a few weeks, I may have to seek out Pink Olive. BTW, I love this blog.

Shopalicious! said...

Love the dress - it looks great on you!

On another note, you've been tagged!
I was asked to tag 7 bloggers to share info about themselves with their readers. Check out Shopalicious for details.

ashley churchill said...

who needs an excuse? wear it anywhere lady, it's perfect! allow me to suggest...yellow shoes?

jpott022 said...

I have to go to a fairly informal park wedding in a few weeks, and that dress epitomizes exactly what I wanted.
It is wonderful and perfect.

Katherine said...

That dress looks lovely on you! What a nice, bright color.

You keep making me add these places to check out in NYC when I go home! Agh!

sparkler said...

That dress is adorable! The color is great on you. :)

Does Pink Olive have a website, perchance? Sounds fantastic!

Anonymous said...

Would you ever step foot in a thrift store to find an item like this for yourself? Or do such establishments exude an aura of hipstercool to those of your socioeconomic background? Is it only okay to buy used stuff plucked from a sea of thift-store filth by a former purchaser of couture for classy brawds?

Meg said...

Sparkler- Pink Olive does have a website, but it only has a small fraction of what's available in the store (and no vintage pieces).

The address is:

maya said...

Hey Anonymous 12:57,

Lighten up already! What's with the judgment? It's just a pretty dress that caught her eye.

ambika said...

Adorable. And wear it for sunday breakfast, why wait for the perfect cocktail party?!

Icy said...

Beautiful dress and it suits you to a tee, and I love the idea of yellow shoes!

knoxwhirled said...

What a great find, and looks great on you. I agree with Pat, this is a really good blog. It is both fun and useful; it's nice to find a blog about fashion that's down-to-earth.

Anonymous said...

What a great dress! It looks perfect on you :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the suggestion! I've lived in NYC so long and never tried any of these places, so I really appreciate all the advice. It's only because of your review that I was finally brave enough to go get a bra fitting at that UWS shop, so maybe I'm brave enough to try vintage too!

Keep all the great articles coming! glad your enjoying NYC and let us know when you want your adoring internet fans to take you out for free drinks!