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In Palm Beach County, Secondhand Designer Clothes Are Pretty much as good As The first Time

You never forget your first Chanel, even when it was secondhand.
My first Coco moment was a protracted string of glass pearls and interlocking Cs from a vintage jewellery store in West Palm Seashore. I looped the 88-inch chain round my neck like an infinity scarf, channeling the spirit of its earlier owner, a Parisian lady of exquisite taste.

“A lot of women just really feel full with Chanel,” stated Brett Benson, founder and owner of D. Brett Benson, who purchased the accessory final winter from the chic foreigners.

Palm Beach County, in southeastern Florida, appears to have a sturdy population of complete girls, primarily based on the number of Chanel pieces per sq. mile. In Palm Seaside, the island house of the 0.001 p.c, and West Palm Beach, its more modest sister, more than a dozen stores promote clothes and equipment by Chanel as well as different haute­designer labels. However shock, fashionistas: The objects are used.

“It’s trendy and a little bit of a treasure hunt to search out something that isn’t in the stores anymore,” Leslie Diver, who runs Island Residing Tours ( and organizes shopping trips, stated of vintage items. “Palm Seaside is fairly cutthroat.”

The stores’ inventories are abundant and replenished usually. The wardrobes come from myriad sources. Among them: doyennes who’re socially forbidden from carrying the same fancy gown twice to a winter ball and seasonal residents who empty their closets earlier than fluttering off to, say, the Hamptons or Portofino for the summer time. High-society women are also identical to us: They acquire weight, downsize their homes and divorce. And, as any spurned lady is aware of, selling an ex’s gifts is a way more lucrative form of revenge than lighting a bonfire. Lastly, private belongings arrive after being “released from their materialistic clutches,” mentioned one local dealer, using a polite euphemism for “they die.” (Another widespread phrase: “Purchased at an property sale.”)

[Following your United Airlines meal from the kitchen to the clouds]
“If you may have a purchasing drawback, Palm Beach is just not the place for you,” Leslie mentioned. “There is a whole lot of temptation.”

Vintage and consignment outlets wink at passersby along Antique Row, the art and design district in West Palm Seashore, and within the commercial center of Palm Seashore. Local charities, such because the Animal Rescue League and the Church of Bethesda-by-the Sea’s Church Mouse, run thrift stores with Barneys-quality merchandise and civic-minded splurges.

“Palm Beach has the very best end of Goodwill,” stated Leslie, who has spotted Chanel and Gucci on its racks.

For my spring outing, Leslie acted as my salvatore ferragamo online singapore scout and inspiration. The previous stockbroker confirmed up in fashionable white pants and a black Bottega Veneta tote that she had bought at Dina C’s Fab & Funky Consignment Boutique, considered one of our retail stops in West Palm Seashore. Over lunch at Belle and Maxwell’s, she regaled (or taunted ) me with stories of her discoveries: a Bottega Veneta cotton blouse for $29, a 60-yr-old Louis Vuitton messenger bag for $650 and a pair of “to-die-for” Gucci footwear that had been $seventy nine.

I requested Leslie how the shopping expertise differs between the 2 towns. She stated the quality is similar however the costs rise in the east — cross the bridge and multiply by two. She additionally explained the seasonal variations in the supply. The stores are often plump with goods in early spring, the period between the fund­raising events and the summer season exodus. Throughout the recent months, shelves are sparser, and a few stores close for a number of weeks.

At D. Brett Benson (3616 S. Dixie Hwy. Suite No. 120,, I squinted on the supernova-vibrant gentle emanating from the glass instances and counters. Benson and Kevin Quidley, the shop supervisor, specialize in jewellery from the flip of the twentieth century to the 1980s, although they may accept more trendy items that match their aesthetic. They scoop up costume designs at property gross sales and antiques reveals and from fashionable girls seeking to unload their treasures. For example, they bought greater than a dozen Chanel items (1980s-2012) from a pair of French ­vintage-jewellery dealers.

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I gravitated toward the Chanel necklaces, earrings and bracelets however quizzed the experts on which designers they covet. They led me to a show of beaded necklaces by Coppola E. Toppo that cascade down the neck like a waterfall, delicate flower-shape brooches by Trifari, and transcendent art deco pieces by Theodor Fahrner. In the Bakelite section, Brett pulled out a vivid-red fruit pin that, again within the day, was a scarlet letter of kinds. In accordance with his grandmother, solely loose women wore a cherry on their sweaters.

Down the road, at Dina C’s (1609 S. Dixie Hwy. No. 2,, the owner views her role as a sartorial Purple Cross worker.

“I have a look at myself as rescuing the good ol’ days,” said Dina Capehart, whose five-yr-outdated boutique focuses on retro clothes from the 1940s to ’90s. “I discover a new dwelling on your issues.”

She excitedly confirmed me a 1960s Balmain feathered cap that resembled a coconut cake; a jaunty 1980s Yves Saint Laurent prime and wrap skirt good for Carmen Miranda; and an Elsa Schiaparelli blue leather coat with mink trim that predated PETA. In the back of the one-room store, I seen wool pencil skirts from the 1950s on the sale rack. Dina said they were a troublesome sell in steamy Florida, even for $50.

Whereas Leslie tried on a Chanel swimsuit that she had positioned on layaway, I buttoned myself into a 1960s leather-based Gucci bomber jacket and A-line skirt plastered in the lettered logo. I gazed in the mirror and saw a Desperate Housewife of Palm Beach staring back.

Across the Intracoastal Waterway, the employees at Traditional Collections (116-118 N. County Rd. ) acted like giddy kids enjoying gown-up in their rich parents’ closet. Father and Mom had been going to be out for a while, so I joined in.

“This matches you perfectly,” cooed an employee, as she snapped an $eight,500 gold alligator-shape bracelet onto my wrist. “Not everyone can put on this.”

Guess I’ve good carpal bone structure.
The store is flush with clothes, baggage, shoes and jewelry from the top luxurious lines (proprietor Sally Kimball refers to Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Hermes because the “Triple Crown”) as well as unusual creations. Sally pointed out a Studio fifty four-period Chanel dress fabricated from PVC nicknamed the “Lawn Chair Gown.”

“People love the thrill of the hunt,” Sally stated. “We hear people shrieking out here.”
About forty to 50 % of the items have never been worn, and lots of arrive with value tags still connected. Sally provided some juicy tales of origin that breathed life into the inanimate objects. For instance, a lady once known as Sally over to her Bentley and opened the trunk to reveal 10 bins containing Ferragamo handbags — holiday gifts from her husband that were bought by his secretary. (Memo to assistant: Keep a spreadsheet to avoid repeat presents.) In one other instance, a wife dropped off a Louis Vuitton Speedy bag with handles that she had acquired from her partner. However, oh, dear, she solely wears shoulder-style.

“We are in a really special part of the world,” said Sally, “where we’ve got a really high focus of wealth.”

Eventually, pretend-time ended. I removed the reptile’s grip and returned to my own bracket.
City Woman Consignment (2900 S. Dixie Hwy., in West Palm Seashore, works with 2,500 consigners who have more populist tastes. I took a deep breath and dove in. When i got here up for air, I held in my arms a navy blue Lilly Pulitzer shirtdress and a pink skirt lined in bees; a J. Crew caftan; and a pair of Cole Haan platform sandals cheaper than a martini. Whole price for the pile: about $120.

At Groovy Palm Seaside Vintage (108 N. County Rd. find them on Facebook) the fabulous proprietor, Douglas E.J. Fredricks, crams every out there area (partitions, ceilings, shelves that buckle beneath the load) with Lilly and Pucci prints, plus dresses that get together all disco-period long. I bushwhacked through a jungle of maxi skirts, mini-frocks and whimsical blazers and got here out the opposite facet wearing a flowery inexperienced ankle-size dress suitable for a fondue-and-Valium gathering. Fredricks snapped a photograph of me in the throwback model, proof that I used to be now a member of the Palm Beach County Customers Club.

Extra from Journey:
At a South Florida hospital, heroes for the half-shell

In India, surrendering to Delhi’s market madness

What’s in store for you at the Eau Palm Seaside A night time with Jonathan Adler.

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