Shopping After Anthropologie

If you were stunned to find out that the CEO of Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters donated to Rick Santorum’s campaign, you might be on the fence about deciding whether to boycott. (Read “Clothes Make the Man” from the Philadelphia Weekly) I don’t think I’m too naive – I expect that many corporations’ leaders give to Republican causes. Many corporations support both campaigns, if not equally. But I don’t need to support a company that supported Santorum’s kind of hate.

So, the question is now, where do I get that vintagy, detailed, funky, a few American made items on the rack mix that is Anthropologie?

It’s not as hard as I thought. I got some great recommendations from friends, and I’m passing them on.

Reuse, Recycle, Vintage, Vintage, Vintage – OK, I’ll be honest: I really like the clothes I wear every day to be new. I wish I wasn’t that way, but I have a hard time seeing past someone else’s sweat stains. I’m also a museum professional, so anything that looks like it should be in a museum, I’m hesitant to wear. However, it is an evident and obvious solution to reuse beautiful things from the recent past that aren’t museum quality. Many were made in the USA by small factories and are well-constructed with excellent, and often regional detail. That’s more than can be said for a lot of Anthropologie clothes. Thanks Ms. E. for pointing out the obvious – vintage + mending = new options for your wardrobe.

But, if you are like me, and like things to be new, here’s some other ideas:

Make your own – certainly, I can get great deals on fabrics in the shops on 39th street, between 7th and 8th Avenues. However, I limit most of my sewing skills to eighteenth century historical reproduction sewing. It’s a combination of habitually choosing the wrong fabrics for modern sewing, being a better hand sewer than machine sewer, and that I can buy modern clothes – I can’t buy [decent] eighteenth century clothing.

Shabby Apple – Thanks Mr. M for pointing this one out. I have yet to shop from them, but their retro looks really look fun.

I must have this dress. Photo:

ModCloth – While a whole bunch of their dresses are way too short for me (I think I’m growing out of their age bracket) they still have some classic cuts and great detail that the 30-something set can get away with. And when you feel like splurging, they have a couple designer pieces now and then too. But I like that they represent indie designers, and their prices are very reasonable.

eShakti – I became aware of this one through Ms. C, who had her wedding dress made through eShakti. This is a site that has basic designs that you may customize. You can give them your measurements, and the cut the dress to fit you. You can ask for the skirt to be longer. When was that kind of service last available? How fun is that? Reviews are a bit mixed. But I think it might be worth a try. The clothing is made in Chennai, India, but there is a US address for returns.

Lord and Taylor, NYC – A legendary department store with great history. Their flagship store on Fifth Avenue and 37th St. has been undergoing a renaissance. Stockrooms used to press up against the grand windows onto the street – these have been removed and the floors redesigned. Their dress department is full of beautiful things – but not cheap. The shoe department is always a scene.

Am I aware of the above retailers’ politics? Not yet. And there are small brick and mortar retailers too. I’d like to hear about your Anthropologie-replacement strategies.


About Becky Fifield

Becky Fifield is a cultural heritage professional with 25 years experience in institutions large and small. She is currently Head of Collection Management for the Special Collections of the New York Public Library. An advocate for preventive conservation, Ms. Fifield is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation, Chair of the AIC Collection Care Network, and former Chair of Alliance for Response NYC. She is also a scholar of 18th century female unfree labor and dress. There's a bit of pun in the title The Still Room, delineating a quiet space brimming with the ingredients of memory, where consideration, analysis, and wordcraft can take place. Ms. Fifield’s interests include museum practice, dress history, historic preservation, transit, social and women’s history, food, current events, geneaology, roadtrips, and considerations on general sense of place. Becky and her husband, Dr. V, live in the Hudson Valley.