My brief trip to Chicago afforded me just a smidge of time for vintage shopping, so I asked around and gathered some intel on the spots to hit. The answers? Wicker Park’s US #1 Vintage and West Town’s Richard’s Fabulous Finds.
The two shops were both delightful, but they couldn’t be more different.
My first trip was to US #1. The inside of the spacious shop is floor-to-ceiling vintage. Emphasis on the ceiling as the owner Dominique keeps the good stuff high above prying hands. The shop carries both men’s and women’s clothes, and has a broad stock of good-quality standard stuff – old jeans, Starter jackets, flannels. Above, though, are the real treasures.
Dominique is clearly a real vintage dealer – the shop is a retail outlet for the normals, but the real vintage freaks get to check out the special stuff. In fact, the store has a genuinely awful Yelp rating due to Dominique’s slightly grumpy exterior. The truth is, though, that he’s a genuine vintage expert with a lifetime of experience and some truly remarkable goods. You just can’t bother his dog without his permission (as noted on the handmade sign).
Of particular note at US #1 was some truly spectacular Western wear, some great militaria and some killer denim and workwear. Not much tailored clothing was on display, though you get the sense that Dominique has a secret stash of that, too. Show some knowledge and sincere interest and Dominique perks up and is an immensely charming conversationalist. And if you’re lucky, he’ll break out the good stuff.
A mile or so away is a completely different vintage experience. Richard’s Fabulous Finds is on an otherwise entirely unremarkable street – one you’d never happen past unless you lived in the neighborhood or were looking for it. But it’s a hidden gem.
Richard’s is much more in the tradition of the swing-oriented vintage shops I grew up visiting in the 90s, with an emphasis on tailored clothes (though much more 60s than 40s). There are tables of cufflinks, tasseled lamps and the lovely proprietor, Richard himself. He started the shop a couple of years ago after a career in high-end department store retail, and he’s as warm and charming as can be. Highlights among the goods – no surprise in Chicago – were the overcoats. Big, heavy vintage coats in classic styles, perfect for surviving a brutal February, were $150 or so.
Vintage in Chicago
1460 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
Richard’s Fabulous Finds
2545 W. North Ave., Chicago IL 60647