The Midwest Vintage Show beats Etsy on charm

We live in a vintage-saturated world, from the hundreds of vintage shops on Etsy to the explosion of retro stores in the Twin Cities. One may wonder if there is still a place for old-fashion vintage expos, a.k.a. the sexier, more sophisticated older sister of flea markets. As it turns out, having the unique collections of over 40 vendors under one roof at the Midwest Vintage Clothing, Jewelry, and Textile Show and Sale was an unmatched experience.

The two-day event, which took place this weekend at the State Fairgrounds, showcased vendors from across the Midwest who were selling a variety of retro clothing for men, women, children, and babies; vintage wall decorations; pill boxes; fabrics; buttons; fashion books; purses; and more. The first day featured early buying opportunities for hard-core fashionistas, while evening events included a posh party with where appropriately dressed attendees had the chance to win a retro costume contest while enjoying music and drinks. The next day, folks were welcome to continue to peruse the booths for cool items. 

While the first night was very busy, treasures were still in abundance the second night of the expo. The most historically impressive pieces we spotted were a pair of original, clear, pointy-toed, go-go boots and an amazing velvet and chiffon kaftan from the '20s. Our best finds included a huge buckskin leather carry-all bag for $85, denim jackets decorated with colorful yarn back pieces, and a Siouxsie and the Banshees concert poster. The least practical item we discovered was a paper robe from the '60s (though they were considered fashionable, according to the exhibitor the fad didn't last long as people couldn't smoke in them).

The best part about the expo was that along with the pricey items, there were also many affordable pieces, including cute '60s sundresses for $18, silk robes for $38, fancy would-be wedding dresses for under $100, and an abundance of modestly priced jewelry and accessories. The range and variety of items made this event suitable for an equally wide range of shoppers, such as ladies on the prowl for a special occasion outfit, people in need of a last-minute gift, serious collectors of antique fashions, and those simply interested in browsing casually.

Vintage dresses on display
Vintage dresses on display
Holly Hilgenberg

The two-day show was superior to searching the vintage section on Etsy for several reasons. First, everything was right at the shoppers' fingertips. Secondly, nothing can replace the experience of chatting with enthusiastic vendors and overhearing other people's conversations, both relating to the sale itself (overheard: "It costs five bucks to get in here, I wonder what it costs to get out.") and musings about the old days  as several elderly women lamented the end of an era where it was okay for children to play in the dirt ("That's why kids are always sick now," one of them exclaimed).

Those who missed the show this time around can check out the next, which takes place October 14 and 15. There will also be a special exhibit of romance novel cover art, which shouldn't be missed. For more information visit The Midwest Vintage Clothing, Jewelry and Textile Show and Sale's website.

Looking for more? Be sure to check out our slideshow of all the cool items that were for sale at the event.

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