Flea markets to vintage shops offer the best of the past

Whether it’s for ethics, sustainability or just plain fashion, vintage is back in style

Liza Dolensky rarely — if ever — leaves the house without a hat and white gloves. No, she’s not a “germaphobic,” although that’s the excuse she may give when people ask. Dolensky, who owns the online shop, Better Dresses Vintage, dresses almost exclusively in vintage clothes and, let’s face it, anyone who has every watchedI Love Lucy” knows that a proper lady would never be seen without her gloves and hat.

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Increasingly women and men are shopping vintage which, depending on the definition and who one asks, is different than buying second hand.

“There’s definitely a variety of customers,” says Nikki Manders, owner of Serendipity Consignment in Buford. “There are those who are strictly looking for a bargain because it’s in their blood. We have others who are flat out on a budget, want quality material, and this is the only way to get it.” Come fall, shoppers look for fur coats. “They’ve made a comeback, including, strangely enough, all the shawl vintage wraps. Last year we sold 25 to 40 fur coats.”

Others shop vintage for societal and ecological reasons. Most vintage clothes were made in this country using union labor. “Now anything you buy, even from an expensive store, is made overseas and often under slave labor conditions,” says Dolensky. “So ethics is a good reason. Also the garment industry is the second most polluting industry in the world after energy. There’s an endless number of reasons to buy vintage.”

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Whether looking for a bargain or the perfect 1950′s little black cocktail dress that Audrey Hepburn would wear, Atlanta has a variety of shops, flea markets and consignment shops to suit any look and budget.

Vintage quality

Vintage aficionados maintain the quality is higher in vintage than today’s clothes. “Secondhand clothing is anything that anyone has owned before but no legitimate vintage outfit is newer than the 1980s. That’s when the quality of clothes was still there. Anything from the ‘80s on is just polyester garbage,” says Dolensky.

“The nice thing about vintage clothing is they are generally more resilient than the clothes today. If you find a metal zipper instead of a plastic one, you know it’s vintage,” says Judith Nudi, whose store Vintage by Judith is open by appointment only.

Dolensky believes one reason why vintage clothing is so much better is that women, in particular, knew how to sew. “People today don’t understand fabric and garment construction. Not only are the fibers and fabrics better but the construction is better.”

Maria Kellam, an aesthetician at Aviary Beauty and Wellness, shops in places ranging from Goodwill to vintage stores. “I pick up whatever speaks to me. I look for fabrics that have stood the test of time and still going strong. There are a lot of fabrics now that are terrible — all plastic. Avondale Estates has so many cute secondhand shops.”

Credit: handout

Credit: handout

One of the epicenters for vintage, vintage-style and second-hand clothing and accessories is Little Five Points, where Psycho Sisters, Junkman’s Daughter, Rag-O-Rama, Stefan’s Vintage Clothing, Wax ‘N Facts and Criminal Records reign supreme.

Psycho Sisters has sold vintage clothing and vintage inspired clothes for more than 30 years. “My customers are super, super eclectic — all over the place,” says Angie McLean, owner. “We have famous drag queens to movie set people to mothers and daughters coming in. We have kids who come in wanting some cheap vintage and designer vintage and making it special.”


Bobbie Jo Nelson wears vintage as a result of her interest in history and costuming. “I tend to have some vintage pieces and then I’ll make pieces that are accurate to the period using Simplicity and Vogue patterns,” she says. She scours Goodwill, thrift shops and antique malls in Cobb County. “It’s fun to play with the silhouettes that you can’t get today. Sometimes they look better on your body than modern clothes.”

Marietta resident Eddie Lee Hines fell into the vintage world through cosplay, where participants wear costumes and accessories of a favorite character. “I started putting vintage clothing into futuristic dressing.”

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Hines says the key to wearing vintage is “in the details. You don’t want to dress like you’re in a costume. If you have stuff that looks cheap, it won’t work. But if it’s genuine, you’ll look elegant.”

Credit: handout

Credit: handout

In addition to clothing, more people are buying vintage for their homes. “Especially after COVID, we’re seeing more younger people coming in to collect vintage pieces. It may be they don’t want everything in their house to look like it came from Target or Ikea,” says David Kowalski, founder of Brick+Mortar, an antique store in the Westside Provisions District.

Credit: Hannah Forsberg

Credit: Hannah Forsberg

Saying “I Do” to Vintage

The Sentimentalist, located in West Midtown, finds that brides look for their “something old” in vintage gowns. “Brides today like the sustainability. They like the idea of recycling a gown and wearing it again, plus the price point is more affordable,” says Krista McMichen, owner. “There’s a certain sentimentality because there is a story behind the gown.”

Finding the perfect vintage piece — bridal gown or not — takes time. “We may have a gown in the store for two years and then the right person comes in who loves vintage and is the correct size. When it happens, people love it.”


The Sentimentalist. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday - Sunday. 1465 Howell Mill Road, Suite 400-a. 404-355-7500, thesentimentalistatl.com.

Cobb Antique Mall. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday; Noon-6 p.m., Sunday. 2800 Canton Road, Marietta. 770-590-8989, cobbantiques.com.

City Antiques & Interior Arts. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday; Noon-6 p.m., Sunday. 700 Holcomb Bridge Road, Roswell. 770-645-2525, cityantiques.com.

Scott Antique Markets, Atlanta. Second weekend of every month. 10:45 a.m.-6 p.m, Thursday; 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. $5. 3650 Jonesboro Road, Atlanta. 404-361-2000, scottantiquemarket.com.

Serendipity Consignment. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday. 409 S. Hill St., Buford. 770-904-5006, serendipityatlanta.com.

Psycho Sisters. 10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. 428 Moreland Ave., Atlanta. 404-523-0100, psycho-sisters.com.

Kudzu Antiques + Modern. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; Noon-6 p.m., Sunday. 2928 E. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur. 404-373-6498, kudzuantiques.com.

Brick+Mortar. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday; Noon-4 p.m. Sunday. 1170 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta. 404-492-9207, thisisbrickandmortar.com.

Vintage by Judith. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. 2738 Broad St., Austell. 770-424-6043, vintagebyjudith.com.

Highland Row Antiques. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. 628 N. Highland Ave., Atlanta. 404-815-8830, highlandrowantiques.com.