The Street Fashionista: Trending on Consignment

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012 at 9:23 AM
The Street Fashionista: Trending on Consignment    by Leslie McAllister

I love a good deal and a great find.  With that being said, I can oft be found haunting thrift and consignment shops.  The allure?  Rare and unique finds for less—I have been jaded over the years; it’s difficult for me to spend more than $5 for a blouse.   Even better, I like supporting local businesses.  It seems that consignment shops are springing up all around Erie.  The difference, in comparison to a department store, is that you can find retro and vintage garments and home decor, brand names for less, and the occasional designer score at a fraction of the cost.  The drawback is that there is usually only one item available and sizes can be limited—so I always say if you love it, grab it since things get swapped up lightening-fast.  Some of my favorite items to look for are:  fur, sequins, leather, vintage secretary blouses, cashmere, pencil skirts, ‘80s dresses, ‘60s wool cocktail dresses, and cowboy boots.  You can also find clutches, hats, and costume jewelry in my cart.  Mid-century modern (1950-1960) home decor and furniture are also great possibilities.  They enhance your home, offering a clean and sophisticated element.  Top three tips on discount shopping:  Always grab it, even if you are vacillating on the purchase—when you go back, 95 percent of the time it will be gone.  Ask about punch cards—I know a couple places in Erie offer $10 off when you make a certain number of purchases.  Lastly, take a second look—there will always be something you have missed. 

Who?  Gretchen Jensen-Cash, shop owner of Retrospect 

Where?  In her lovely shop, Erie 

Why Gretchen?  She is the quintessential shop owner.  Her sense of style and keen eye for fashion has aided her in merchandising Retrospect with some of the coolest, most wearable, and unusual finds.  I love Gretchen’s dressing style. With tons of goodies at her disposable, she is able to pull together fun and funky everyday looks.  I love the black riding boots with the flowy, chiffon blouse.  She pulls it together with a black mini and red tights.  She is pictured in front of the awesome retro and vintage section—my favorite place to tackle.  Retrospect also has great dresses for prom and evening wear, a boutique section with brands like Chico’s, Coldwater Creek, the Limited, and Ann Taylor to name a few, and a great punk/gothic/grunge section with spikes and all sorts of things nice. Honestly, she has stocked her store with everyone in mind—even the little ones!   

Describe your personal style.  “Eclectic!”  Gretchen doesn’t like to limit herself and with Retrospect full of loads of choices and styles, she can wear anything depending on her mood.  “I can range from retro to alternative.”

Who are your fashion muses?  A question to ask all great shopistas, Gretchen attributes her teenage daughter keeping her in touch with current styles and trends.  “I tend to dress younger than most women my age so it’s hard to narrow down the field.”  Madonna.  “ I love the way that even at her age she can be flawless and sexy.  She has the confidence to back up her wild sense of fashion and still be respected as a mother and social icon.”

Favorite time period to dress ‘20s, ‘30s, ‘40s?  “I’ve always loved the pin-up style.  It seems that today it is catching on with our youth too, especially here in the Erie scene.”  Gretchen continues, “Just go down to the crooked i on a weekend and you will see it.” Tattoos, pompadours, gingham—a modern twist on the classic style.

Tell us about Retrospect.  “It’s my dream.”  Gretchen compares passions of others for art or music. “My store is my passion.”  For seven years Gretchen has been harvesting clothes to gather her palette of vivid colors, textures, prints,  and all funky and happy.  “Retrospect allows me to see those beautiful shades everyday, and it helps my shopping habit.  I love that every day I can help people define who they are by what they wear.  I try to make every customer who walks through my door take a little bit of Retrospect with them when they leave.”

Favorite three vintage pieces in your closet?  “My saddle shoes—I wear them with everything.  A vintage blue floral ‘50s dress—I can’t bring myself to sell it.  But the one that takes the cake is my black and gold over coat—more recently acquired and my most prized possession.  It says everything that needs to be said about me in one garment.”

Visit Gretchen at Retrospect located at 4858 West 12th St. just past the airport.  Hours Tuesday-Friday 10:30 a.m.  to 6 p.m.  Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Sunday and Monday 

Find me out on the town and challenge yourself to get noticed by the Erie Reader

Tags: erie fashion

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