Category Archives: Natalie Garza

Splendor stays true to its name

100 W. North Loop Unit H. Austin, Texas 78751

I’m glad I saved this store for my last post. I’ve been wanting to visit Splendor since I first read about it on the Vintage Around Town Guide. I had a feeling it would be the perfect store for me. And I was right!

Stephanie Jimenez, the owner of Splendor, was nice enough to talk with me about her store during my visit Friday.

Isn't her outfit fantastic?

Stephanie said she wanted to open a store that offered customer’s top quality vintage clothing at the most affordable prices. She calls Splendor a “retrofit boutique” because the vintage pieces chosen for the store are influenced by the latest trends.

The store’s clothing and accessories are bought by Stephanie and her two sisters from around the country. Together, Stephanie, in her 30’s, her younger sister in her 20’s, and her older sister in her 40’s, make a great trio at handpicking the best quality vintage items.

Splendor really does feel more like a boutique, rather than a vintage store. It’s a single room with clothes neatly organized by style and era on racks around the walls with a centerpiece table of accessories. The prices were pretty affordable, considering that everything is handpicked by very stylish sisters and dry cleaned before it’s put on the floor.

In addition to the awesome hand-picked vintage items, Splendor offers feather hair extensions, which are the latest trend for Austinites. Although I haven’t tried them, they do look nice on everyone I’ve seen with them, including Stephanie.

Splendor may one of the newest vintage stores in town, but it’s sure to stick around. Even if you don’t normally shop for vintage clothing, because each item is chosen based on current trends, anyone can find something to fit their style in Splendor.

I’ll definitely be dropping in the store again soon to find my next vintage treasure!


Top Drawer Thrift

By Natalie Garza

I decided to visit a different kind of store this week. After supporting two friends who participated in the Hill Country Ride for AIDS this weekend, I wanted to do my own part in supporting the cause.

I stopped by Top Drawer Thrift  just before closing on Saturday. I ended up having a great time getting to know the Stephanie, the assistant manager, and Stanton, who has been a volunteer for 10 at Top Drawer for 10 years.

Top Drawer Thrift, managed by Karin Kokinda, funds Project Transitions, a local non-profit organization.  According to the website, “Project Transitions is dedicated to serving people with HIV and AIDS by providing hospice, housing, and support in a compassionate and caring environment. We have been serving Central Texas since 1988.”

Top Drawer sells men’s and women’s clothing, shoes, accessories, art, books, records, housewares, electronics, linens, and furniture. It’s a great place for people who aren’t used to shopping at thrift stores, especially larger ones like Goodwill and Savers, because it’s not very big. Another really cool thing about the store is that only three employees are actually paid. The rest are all volunteers, like Stanton.

The store offers really great deals on its items, especially the longer it’s been in the store. When an item is first put on the floor, it’s marked with a pink tag at regular price (which is still a thrift store price!). The more time that passes, the bigger a discount on the item, as shown on the board below. If the item is still in the store after four months, it’s passed on to be sold or donated somewhere else.

Stanton said, “Nothing goes to waste.”

Texas Swing is Project Transitions’ music festival and sideshow held the first Friday of every June. This year’s 16th annual fundraiser is held on June 3. According to Stephanie and Stanton, it’s sure to be a fun event that you won’t want to miss.

One of the most interesting and fun things about the store are the trannequins. That’s right; male mannequins in women’s clothing. Check out some of the best photos on the Project Transitions website.

Check out Top Drawer Thrift on Facebook.

Feeling Fancy at Big Bertha’s Bargain Basement

By Natalie Garza

Located at 1050 South Lamar in Austin, Texas. Photo by Natalie Garza

Although it’s the name of the store, Big Bertha’s is not a basement and most of the clothing isn’t at a price that I’d normally consider a bargain. But I can say that this store is like a fashion museum. If you’re ever looking for something special, I’d definitely recommend heading to Big Bertha’s.

Henry described his store as a collection of recycled designer clothing, which I couldn’t agree with more.  He’s been collecting vintage clothing for more than 20 years and opened Big Bertha’s in 1996. Henry buys the clothing from vintage trade shows around the country and only buys what he considers the “best of the best”.

As I walked around the store, I was in awe at everything on the racks and on the shelves. It’s obvious that Henry has great taste,which is a key quality in owning and running a vintage store. I found at least five or six items that I absolutely loved and had to force myself not to try on. I’m not exactly rolling in the dough right now and everything I picked up was between $38 and $100.

Bette O’ Callaghan, recently featured on the cover of Tribeza, was shopping in Big Bertha’s while I was there. She’s considered somewhat of a celebrity in Austin. We only exchanged a few words, but by far, the best thing that came out of her mouth was “There is no such thing as being too fabulous.”

Jane Aldridge, the style icon behind the fashion blog Sea of Shoes, is another one of his many loyal customers. Henry said she’s one of his favorite clients because she often features clothing from his store on her blog.

What about vintage clothing inspires you?

By Destinee Hodge and Natalie Garza

We took a look around to find out why some people opt to buy vintage clothing. Three ladies give their perspective in this video.

On the Street: Animal Kingdom

By Natalie Garza

Meet Jackie Kennedy, a stylish student teacher. She looks professional and pulled together with just the right accessories. At first glance, you might miss the animals around her waist, but it’s definitely worth a closer look!

Jackie got this fun belt at Goodwill for only $3. It was the perfect addition to her wardrobe because a) Jackie adores animals and b) she just recently realized how useful belts could be in creating an outfit. Using a small, unique accessory is the easiest way to make an outfit more interesting. Jackie also knew that this belt would come in handy when she becomes an elementary school teacher.

“Kids love anything related to animals,” Jackie said.

This belt can be worn with a variety of outfits because it’s a neutral brown color. Jackie wore it for student teaching with a white button down, Forever 21 skirt, and Bakers shoes.

On the Street: Vintage-Inspired Shoes

By Natalie Garza

A modern woman's shoe with vintage influences. Photo by Natalie Garza

When I saw these shoes on Jiwon Kim, a journalism student at UT Austin, I just had to ask her where she got them. Jiwon bought them in a store in Seoul, Korea, which is unfortunate for me because I could totally see myself wearing these mid-heeled oxfords. I can’t seem to be able to find a similar pair online. The shoelaces are ribbon, which gives them a nice feminine touch. They are the perfect shade of cognac, a color that is often hard to get just right on shoes.

Oxfords were a popular shoe style for men in the late 1800’s. They became popular for women in the mid-1900s as black and white saddle shoes to wear with poodle skirts. They’ve made a comeback in the last few years as a casual option for women. I own a pair of brown oxfords, but they are much more casual than Jiwon’s version. I’m definitely keeping an eye out for a pair like hers.

New Bohemia: Retro Wonderland

Written by Natalie Garza

Photo by Natalie Garza

After my first successful visit to New Bohemia, I was interested in finding out a little more about the store itself. I had the pleasure of speaking with manager Mallory Hublein, who was nice enough to answer all of my questions about this local retro resale, or vintage, store.

New Bohemia has been located right in the heart of SoCo for 10 years. I think the first thing that most people notice is that the store is overflowing with vintage items. Although it may seem overwhelming at first, the store is actually very organized. This makes it much easier on a shopper who knows exactly what they are looking for. It’s also helpful for someone just browsing because everything is divided by style. The employees were really knowledgeable and helpful when I asked how the store was laid out.

The store has plenty of jewelry for every occasion. Photo by Natalie Garza.

The clothing that the store sells comes from all over the country. With 5 vendors and the owner all personally handpicking the items in bulk, it’s no wonder the store has so much stuff. The owner has a whole warehouse of clothing, accessories, and shoes ready to be moved into the store as needed.

“We could go on for years if there was a sudden clothes shortage,” Hublein said.

New Bohemia has appointments with its vendors every day and pick out the items that are most popular among customers. Like any retail store, this is constantly changing.

A wall full of slips, nightgowns, and fur coats screams Elizabeth Taylor .

Once they have the clothing to sell, it needs to be organized in the store. Although most items come from the vendors with description tags, it always helps to have some knowledge about the authenticity of vintage clothing. This includes checking the tags sewn on the item, the construction of it, the zippers (for example, metal zippers were common before the 1970s), and the type of fabric.

This is a great detailed post about shopping for vintage clothing.

After I bought this dress from New Bohemia, I planned to take a picture of the description tag because it was filled with great details about it. Unfortunately, when I got home, I couldn’t find the tag. It turns out that the store cuts off the tag when a customer buys the item. The store keeps these tags for their records and as a way to keep track of trends and what is most popular among customers.

Hublein said that New Bohemia is different from other vintage stores in Austin because it caters to everyone. Austinites and out-of-towners alike can find something that fits their style in this unique store. I’ll definitely visit New Bohemia the next time I’m looking for something special.