Va-Va-Vintage

Our experts did the legwork—driving 446 miles and scouring the racks of dozens of shops—so you don’t have to. The payoff: a guide to the best vintage vendors in town


(From left) Dovetail, Daniels, Daniels, Cavalier, Modlife. See more photos in the gallery >>

 

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More gallery than store, and a little more luxe than everything else on the list, we recommend Pavilion (2005 N. Damen Ave.; 773-645-0924) for its fine selection of French and Italian lamps and furniture.

MIDCENTURY FURNITURE
The West Town shop Post27 (1819 W. Grand Ave.; 312-829-6122) is hard to beat for its selection of sofas and chairs at reasonable prices (from $1,800). Pieces are mostly from the ’50s to ’70s, with some in the original fabrics and others reuphol-stered and refinished. Robert Zizzo hits just the right note with his impeccably curated Modlife (3061 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-868-0844), which moved to larger digs late last year, and now has vignette displays of show-room quality midcentury wares. Prices range from $200 for accessories to $4,000 for a sideboard. Room Service (5438 N. Clark St.; 773-878-5438) may be expensive, but it’s a decorator’s hot spot for a reason: We found a completely reconditioned Edward Wormley ‘60s-era mahogany dining table ($2,495).

AUCTIONS

Three we recommend: The auctioneer Leslie Hindman (1338 W. Lake St.; 312-280-1212) regularly deals in high-end vintage couture and accessories, furniture, fine arts, jewelry, and timepieces both online and through marketplace sales. With three to four auctions in each category on an annual basis, it’s a great place to snag great prices on chairs and other furniture. Susanin’s Auctions (900 S. Clinton St.; 312-832-9800) claims it’s the first auction company in the world to implement an illustrated and searchable online catalog (antique jewelry, books, fine art, silver, furniture, and other items). If you’re up for a drive, visit Knudson Auctions and Appraisals (3601 Wildwood Dr., Joliet; 815-725-6023), which provides good deals on antique glassware, furniture, instruments, and jewelry as well as cars and estates. There are fewer crowds, to boot.

THE BEST OF THE REST
The European antique importer Olde Chicago Antiques (3110 N. Kedzie Ave.; 773-935-1200) has been around for 30 years but remains a well-kept secret guarded by the design trade and antique dealers. Most business is wholesale, but it’s open to the public. Like the cottage chic look? The Painted Lady (2128 N. Damen Ave.; 773-489-9145) repaints, re-covers, and refurbishes vintage furniture in whites and pretty pastels; it also carries vintage linen. Nearby, Daniels Antiques (2062 N. Damen Ave.; 773-276-9600) offers heirloom-quality dining sets, sofas, and coffee tables that are fancy but not contrived. Ask for an appointment to see the warehouse. On the South Side, Fort Pitt Hotel Furniture Liquidators (1400 W. 37th St.; 773-247-3523) sells ready-for-reupholstery finds from four- and five-star hotels. We were smitten by the huge gilt mirrors ($99), the aged-just- right dressers, and a sideboard for a steal. The sheer scale of furnishings at Revival (1401 W. Irving Park Rd.; 773-248-1211)—imagine a massive double-sided sea horse ($3,200)—made us think of a retro movie set.  Prairieland Warehouse in the suburbs (7505 N. Waukegan Rd., Niles; 847-588-5200) opens its garage doors every Saturday to display Federal sideboards, cherry dining sets, gilt-framed art, chandeliers, and other fresh estate finds. 

HOME ACCESSORIES
In the city, head to P.O.S.H. (613 N. State St.; 312-280-1602) for vintage hotel silver stamped with exotic ports of call and flea market dishware. Larry Vodak’s Scout (5221 N. Clark St.; 773-275-5700) offers all things clean, graphic, and industrial, from metal lockers to classic wood cubbies. If you like digging for vintage among resale and consignment, the seemingly brother-sister shops Lenny and Me (1459 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-489-5576) and newcomer Haystack (2934 N. Broadway; 773-549-1225) each give off the right ’70s-’80s vibe. In the suburbs, The Courtyard (63 Village Pl., Hinsdale; 630-323-1135) provides a discerning selection of hand-me-downs to benefit Hinsdale’s Wellness House: We found sets of sterling for $1,200 to $3,000. Now in its 15th year, Secret Treasures Antiques and Collectibles (605 Dempster St., Evanston; 847-866-6889) stocks fine china, colored glass dishes, jewelry, and odds and ends (we loved a bowl of Bakelite dice). Beef up your bookshelves with a tchotchke from Scentimental Gardens (428 W. State St., Geneva; 630-232-1303), a Victorian house with plentiful wares from its owners’ cross-country buying trips. Good vintage lighting—particularly the right fittings for old fixtures—can be hard to find. Not so at Cavalier Antique Lighting (4412 N. Ashland Ave.; 773-728-8911), which stocks everything from simple schoolhouse lights to drippy crystal chandeliers—plus a railroad car light or two. They also rewire, repair, and replate lamps.

FASHION

SALVAGE

Salvage shopping isn’t for everyone. It’s disorganized. It’s dusty. Posted hours are more like guidelines than rules. But it’s just those imperfections that make Jan’s Antiques (225 N. Racine Ave.; 312-563-0275), salvage done right. The owner, Jane Seymour, knows the thrill is in the hunt, so she balances useful finds, such as a beautiful writing desk, with flat out bizarre oddities (not to mention the friendliest shop cat in the city). This 18,000-square-foot space is literally packed to the ceiling with bureaus, chairs, pottery, windows, hardware, radios, and toys. It’s far from glamorous, but prices are fair. Also worth a stop is the awe-inspiring Architectural Artifacts (4325 N. Ravenswood Ave.; 773-348-0622), which we liken to the Smithsonian for sale (think Wrigley Field seats at $325 apiece and quirky printing blocks from the Rubens Baby Factory). Hit the Near West Side for Urban Remains (410 N. Paulina St.; 312-492-6254), which has a particularly well-organized selection of antique hardware and doorknobs, and the gallerylike Salvage One (1840 W. Hubbard St.; 312-733-0098) for furniture and accents.

CLOTHES
When it comes to fashion, many shops walk the thin line between vintage and resale. Strict vin- tage hunters can satiate their appetites at Store B (1472 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-772-4296), where racks of coats and faux furs (from $95) transport shoppers back to the ’60s and ’70s. Men, in particular, will be fond of the suit rack’s ’50s-inspired Pendleton vibe. Before a night out, cruise by Lake View’s Yellow Jacket (2959 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-248-1996), where disco tops and sassy dresses hark back to the ’70s and ’80s. Label hounds who aren’t price sensitive should climb the stairs to The Daisy Shop (67 E. Oak St.; 312-943-8880), where a quarter of the offerings are vintage; the rest are resale Chanel, Burberry, Alexander McQueen, and other luxe brands. Neighborhood gems include Knee Deep (1425 W. 18th St.; 312-850-2510), a year-old catchall in Pilsen with loads of cowboy boots from Montana and ’50s skirts, and a Chicago Avenue newcomer, Dovetail (1452 W. Chicago Ave.; 312-243-3100). The latter offers up only eight or so racks of vintage and repurposed men’s and women’s clothes, but the young owners have a great eye for blouses and other wardrobe basics. Prospective brides will-ing to invest in a vintage gown (from $400) will find a stunning selection from the ’30s up to the present at Silver Moon (1755 W. North Ave.; 773-235-5797). We also suggest a trip down Belmont Avenue to I Do Bridal (6742 W. Belmont Ave.; 773-205-1234), a jam-packed emporium with deep discounts. 

JEWELRY AND ACCESSORIES
Browse the cabinet at Kouk’s (5653 N. Northwest Hwy.; 773-594-8888), a fun coffee shop/ antique store hybrid, for clip earrings, necklaces, and bracelets. It’s our favorite destination for pendants—some elegant, some kitschy—that are the real-deal originals that shops like Urban Outfitters attempt to copy. Love costume jewelry? Antique and Resale Shoppe (7214 N. Harlem Ave.; 773-631-1151) carries Bakelite and art deco pieces and beaded necklaces at half the price of the boutiques’. Evanston’s Viva Vintage shuttered in 2007 but continues to operate online at vivavintageclothing.com; we were delighted to find a ’50s silver ball choker ($55) and an Eisenberg pin and earrings set ($125). In search of vintage engagement rings and wedding bands? Visit The Gold Hatpin (125 N. Marion St.; 708-445-0610) inside Oak Park’s Antique Emporium.

SHOES AND PURSES
Vintage purses have more character than the department store variety, and they’re often more affordable. Stalwart Lulu’s at the Belle Kay (3862 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-404-5858) carries a glam selection of evening handbags, with especially beautiful white options for weddings. Many dealers at the Broadway Antique Market (6130 N. Broadway; 773-743-5444) carry a great selection of handbags priced mostly between $30 and $60.

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Photography: Anna Knott

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