This is when Geneva's expensive lifestyle finally becomes an advantage; ladies here throw out their designer gear faster than you can say Carrie Bradshaw. There is a blossoming scene of well stocked vintage and second hand stores such as Julia's Dressing, as well as markets with luxury finds you’d be hard pushed to discover elsewhere. You can enjoy every type of used clothes shop here – from hectic over-stocked charity bargain buckets to chic vintage emporiums like Numéero 6. It is also worth keeping an eye on local flea markets, car boot sales (vide greniers) and the twice yearly Puces de Design, a vast retro furniture design market in a warehouse in Morges which has a formidable vintage clothes section.
Betty Draper wannabes should take note of this retro hotspot in Eaux-Vives, a cavernous store styled like a period boudoir. Check out the range of original vintage sourced from Paris and reproduction '50s-style prom dresses with modern fabrics for prices that mean you can still afford to buy a drink when you wear your new dress out on the town. Choose from floaty pale pink A-line pieces with edgy skull-printed fabrics, lace-edged baby-dolls and silky slips in bright jewel colours – think Sandra Dee’s sleepover with a bit more edge. Owner Julie looks the part, knows her stuff, and can help with fittings and tailoring.
Vintage-lovers will think they've hit the jackpot with this shop, which feels like being in someone’s walk-in wardrobe. The baby of vintage expert Julia Peynes, this store rivals any in London, New York or Paris. Exquisite pieces made to look modern hang in the cosy space in low lighting. An Ossie Clark long black evening dress nestles alongside a Chanel Couture pink coat from the '60s. The basement beneath the store is overflowing with precious items – a collection of 1930s dresses hang alongside a selection of YSL, Lanvin, Courrèges, Pucci and Valentino Couture. Stylists and bloggers flock here from all over the world to browse this carefully considered collection in a low-key atmosphere with prices that are competitive.
On the last Sunday of every month the Lake Geneva area’s best and most picturesque flea market hits Nyon. Over a kilometre of stalls line the lake front and surrounding narrow winding streets. The price of exhibiting is low so there’s always a good range on offer, from second hand toys, clothes and trinkets to upmarket trendy metal furniture, vintage scarf collections and retro design stands. Everyone in the area goes down for a wander, a sausage and beer in the summer and some vin chaud and roast chestnuts in the winter. All the shops in the area are open – a rare thing on a Sunday in these parts. Prices vary largely with the weather and the bargains happen in the rain.
Since it first started in 1970 this twice-weekly Geneva institution has grown into a sprawling mass of stands that now make up one of Switzerland’s largest flea markets. It's well worth the short walk or tram ride from the centre to experience a more offbeat and multicultural atmosphere. On the tram side of the Plaine de Plainpalais find a car boot-style range of collectables: stands selling secondhand clothes, toys and jumble for next-to-nothing are interspersed with ethnic offerings including incense, candles, oils, clothes and jewellery. There's a real community vibe here as people pop down for a wander and a bit of banter with the longstanding stall owners. For vintage clothes and larger items of furniture head to the university side. A recent rummage here provided us with a vintage birdcage, a French dressing table and antique shot glasses. More upmarket designer items at higher prices are likely on a Saturday.
A mainstay of the Geneva vintage scene and ideally placed for a post-Plainpalais fleamarket shop, Flair No 3 is a must for all lovers of thrift. This store is all about the owner, Marisa – so ask if she’s there. She will whip you into the changing room, style you, accessorise you and organise fittings. Not for those who like to shop anonymously but ideal if you need some inspiration. Marisa knows every item in the store and has modernised most pieces herself, from Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana dresses to high street bargains. Check out the large range of leather belts and bags starting at CHF10.
This chic thrift and vintage boutique in chi-chi Carouge is a great place for a spot of designer daydreaming. To satisfy his passion for Pucci and penchant for Chanel owner Jean Marc David has built up a network of Geneva ladies who take their branded goods to his store. With prices ranging from CHF60 to over CHF3,000, the underlying theme is European luxury, whether 1980s glitz or '60s chic. The clientele ranges from classic label lovers to fashion journos on the hunt for a bit of original bling.