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Vintage Fashion Expo

True Vintage From All Over Under One Roof

A good day garage- or estate-sale hopping can yield fabulous finds. There is something special about scrounging a couple hours away through someone elseís junk for gems, kind of like the giddy feeling you might get finding one or two prized records after a long crate-digging session. But letís face it: not everyone is up to the task. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the Vintage Fashion Expo might be the answer vintage fashion lovers seek: this popular show brings together dealers from across the country under one roof for a weekend of treasure hunting that kicks off tomorrow morning.

Scoring vintage finds in San Francisco is easy, with thrift shops sprinkled throughout our fair city. Places like Goodwill and Out of the Closet may require a lengthy commitment of sifting through crammed racks until the musty stench becomes overwhelming. More stringent selection standards at Wasteland may result in shorter browsing times but you make up for it with a markup in price and you might have to fight a hipster to get that buttery leather jacket thatís calling your name. Luckily the Vintage Fashion Expo presents an abundance of options in tastefully curated styles as well as price ranges.

Conceived by three partners with a passion for vintage fashion, the first Vintage Fashion Expo landed in Oakland, January 1988. Today, the large show is staged five times a year: twice in San Francisco at the Nob Hill Masonic Center and thrice in Santa Monica at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. As you can imagine, the large venues are capable of holding large volumes and these Expos donít disappoint. Each expo sees 75-100 dealers from across the country presenting a fine selection of clothing, textiles, jewelry and accessories for sale from Victorian times to the Roaring Twenties to the 70s, 80s and beyond.

You donít need to be a fashion student to observe that eras in fashion come, go, and return again. Many of todayís designers model their newest collections with pieces inspired by vintage fashions. If youíre looking to supplement your closet with some authentic items, the Vintage Expo is a sure bet. In fact, the show often draws movie costumers and costume designers searching for period costumes from a specific era for their latest project.

While a majority of the exhibitors sell womenís clothing and accessories, there are those with offerings for men and children as well. Many of the exhibitors appear to be people who simply have a passionate interest in vintage fashion who find amazing things and bring them to sell, but the Expo is also a great place to discover new vintage shops that only bring a taste of their inventories to the show.

Whether youíre in the market for a veiled fascinator, costume jewelry, a retro one-piece bathing suit or a snappy pair of spectators, the Vintage Fashion Expo is a fantastic place to start. Being co-sponsored by the Federation of Vintage Fashion -- ďa national non-profit educational association of collectors, dealers and students of fashionĒ lends an extra air of legitimacy to the show. If youíre serious about it and want to get in before the pickings get slim, the early buying session runs from 9 to 10:30am Saturday; general shopping hours start at 10:30 if you donít feel like paying the $20 admission fee for the early session. Regular admission will set you back 10 bucks but will cover both days, and students with valid ID get in free.

San Francisco Vintage Fashion Expo
March 15-16
Nob Hill Masonic Center
1111 California Street
Cross: Taylor Street
San Francisco, CA 94108
Saturday: 10:30a - 6p
Sunday: 11a - 5p