For unique style without the credit card bills, hit Paris's vintage boutiques. Rockabilly leather, '50s glamour dresses, retro sunglasses and much more will get you a slew of afforable new looks in no time, or you can simply lose happy hours rummaging through the racks, rails, baskets and piles of clothes, accessories and knick-knacks. These are all of Time Out Paris's pre-loved pleasure palaces...
Finding well-presented vintage clothes that have been washed, ironed and don’t smell like dirty underpants is possible – GoldyMama is the proof. This small boutique in the heights of the 20th has retro treasures aplenty and makes an original spot for gift hunting. 1950s skirts, 40s suits, empire dresses, wacky 70s tops and multi-era accessories line the walls. The choice is as vast as the shop assistants are helpful.
The Etienne Marcel neighbourhood isn’t exactly known for its good value boutiques – rather, it's full of hip designers and specialist addresses, to the great displeasure of penniless fashionistas, who still come here for window-shopping and better inspiration than you can get from the department stores. The opening of the so-called friperie Kiliwatch a few years ago rubbed it in rather by selling second hand garb at vastly inflated prices. Nevertheless, the rue Tiquetonne is where the Dutch chain Episode chose to open its Parisian branch in 2009.
A firm favourite among Parisian vintage lovers, who are drawn to the jolly red frontage and little iron chairs set out on the pavement. Once inside, it’s hard to know where to start – hunting along the rails, rummaging in the hampers, flipping through the pieces hung on the walls and even suspended from the ceiling between disco balls and celebrity masks of Barack Obama and Elizabeth II. Elsewhere there are piles of vintage telephones, démodé mocassins, ’60s sunglasses and Hawaiian shirts.
Need to rent an outfit for a retro fifties party? Looking to splurge on a pair of aviator sunglasses or a ‘bibi’ hat? Then head to Mamie. Don’t be fooled by its tiny storefront decked out in pastel colours: inside, the shop has three levels, each filled with treasures from the 30s to the 60s – hats, jewellery, glasses, handbags, miniskirts, military jackets and polkadot dresses. There’s also good news for foot fetishists, with the basement entirely devoted to shoes. Everything here has been unearthed by the shop’s colourful owner.
You don’t need a time machine to step back into the past – not when you’ve got Rose Bunker at your doorstep. This retro bric-a-brac shop is jam packed with formica tables, old dial phones, psychedelic lamps, flowery vases and a myriad of other objects from days gone by. As well as furniture, jewellery and knickknacks, there’s a recycled materials section and vintage clothes.
The Emmaüs bric-a-brac store is hidden in the heart of the 104 cultural centre, a great little address where you can mix with hip-hop dancers and cultural performers to bargain hun in a boutique done out like someone’s apartment. The atmosphere is welcoming, and the stuff on offer more or less well organised. At the back of the main room there's a little library with books, CDs and vinyl, on top of endless rails of clothes, shoes, furniture and other bits and pieces. Everything is dirt cheap: books for €1, around €10 for a jumper. The opening hours are pretty random and it can get rammed, but you never leave empty-handed.
Roll your sleeves up and dig into Guerrisol’s never-ending racks of second-hand clothes. A lot of it is tat, but every so often (and often enough for Guerrisol to be the most popular shop of its kind in Paris) you find a gem. It’s particularly good for blokes in need of a suit with all sorts of styles and colours. And the ladies’ shoe section often has a wide selection. Just wash before you wear: As your nostrils will tell you on the way in, Guerrisol smells like Eau de Charity Shop.
The trailblazer of the rue Etienne-Marcel revival is filled with hoodies, casual shirts and washed-out jeans. Brands such as Gas, Edwin and Pepe Jeans accompany pricey, good-condition vintage garb. Kiliwatch is also a prime spot for shoes by labels like Puma, Fred Perry and INK, designer sunglasses and even watches. In short you can get your entire look under this one (and rather hip) roof.
Noir Kennedy sounds and feels like a rock band. Located steps away from the Saint-Paul metro station, the store offers a wide selection of second hand clothing, but maintains a strong sense of style. Classic pieces by Cheap Monday mingle with very British rockabilly style items, and English telephone booths serve as changing rooms. There isn’t a sequined top or a pair of 1970s bell-bottoms in sight: Noir Kennedy is totally and deliciously rock'n'roll.