Tips, tricks, and hard truths about shopping vintage from Golden Pearl owner Audra Frizzell

Audra Frizzell looking glam in a City Pages Street Style post.

Audra Frizzell looking glam in a City Pages Street Style post. Amy Gee

In its three years of business, the Golden Pearl Vintage boutique in Northeast has brought timeless looks to a plethora of customers, from delicate pieces from the ‘20s to bright ‘70s print dresses.

In advance of Golden Pearl’s third anniversary party on Saturday, we chatted with owner Audra Frizzell about how to shop vintage and why shopping vintage is a smart choice.

Audra Frizzell’s top reasons to shop vintage:

The quality of fabrics. Vintage offers a wider availability of natural fibers and much better quality wool. “People are getting wise to where their clothing comes from and they are making the choice of quality over quantity,” she says.

Longer-lasting garments. Vintage pieces often use superior tailoring techniques that are too costly to replicate for most brands today.

Ethical and environmental reasons. If you’re shopping secondhand, you’re not creating demand for something new; you’re giving a new life to something that already exists on the planet. “I have noticed a real change in the clientele who decide to shop vintage,” she says. “It’s now cool, ethical, and fashionable to wear vintage.”

The Golden Pearl Vintage

The Golden Pearl Vintage

Always a plus: Vintage is also ideal for anyone who wants a unique, personalized look, and there's always the chance you'll discover something super rad. 

"I was picking through the wardrobe department of a retired traveling theater troupe," Frizzell recalls of her rarist find. "While digging through piles of men's suits and military garments, I discovered a piece I never thought I'd find: a 1940s satin souvenir jacket. It's reversible; one side is embroidered with a tiger and says 'Japan,' the other side has an island motif and says 'Eniwetok Atoll.' It's stunning to look at and easy to see why they became so sought after."

What about for people who are just starting out? Frizzell has some tips for newbie’s looking to get into vintage shopping:

Try on everything.

“The materials and the way structured garments fit your body can feel quite different than the clothing you are used to,” Frizzell says. “Because everything was designed to fit more specifically, it’s important to keep going through silhouettes that might not to flatter you: jumpsuits that are too short, ‘50s dresses that have huge busts. At some point, you will find something tailored for a person with a body just like yours.”

Also, don’t stick to a particular time period.

“I think exploring different decades and styles really teaches you about your own body and what flatters your best features,” she says. “I think it makes you more aware of what clothing can do for your body.”

Stay away from anything that looks like you dressed up for a costume party. Go for something that is classic and you can’t fail.

“Has the style been repeated in more than one decade, or are you unsure if you even look ‘vintage’ in it? Then it’s a classic, and it will work with much of your modern wardrobe,” says Frizzell. “Stay away from items you have no idea how to wear. Do scarves confuse you? Where do you wear a brooch? How does this hat stay on your head? These items tend to be for more seasoned vintage wearers.”


Golden Pearl Class of '85 Third Birthday Party
8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday, March 30
Dress code: '80s encouraged

The Golden Pearl Vintage’s Third Anniversary Sale
Buy one, get one half off through Saturday, March 30