It’s Vintage Darling: The Best-Kept Shopping Secret of Columbia Heights

A few blocks north of Target, a rowhouse overflows with clothing from decades past

By: Sarah Zlotnick

Photograph by Erik Uecke

Slideshow: A Look Inside It's Vintage Darling  

DC, a destination for grade-A vintage shopping? Attempt that assertion two years ago and seasoned consignment hunters would have laughed all the way back to New York or Austin. But the Washington area has undergone a renaissance of sorts, with unbelievable resources quietly popping up all over the map. Alexandria’s Pretty People Vintage does California boho and cocktail jewelry like no one else in the area, Dr. K’s and Rock it Again on U Street are giving men great reasons to go retro, and Butler + Claypool’s roaming pop-up shops are a fun, flash-focused way to score unique items.

A central locus of this revival sits two blocks north of the Columbia Heights Target.

Though entirely forgettable from street view, It’s Vintage Darling houses a truly nonpareil collection of vintage gems. Opened by Amirah Hikim and Kendall Hudgins, the shop sources men’s and women’s clothing, jewelry, and accessories from New York, California, Massachusetts, and Florida.

It’s Vintage Darling is funky at first glance. Just try to ignore the walls covered in old-fashioned magazine cutouts. The store displays a rack of ’80s sequined pieces, chunky African fertility beads, and multicolored heels strewn about the floor. And Howard girls, we can already see you killing it in the extra-large feather earrings designed by fellow student Areeyal Goodwin ($35 to $70).

Closer inspection, however, reveals a solid dedication to a more demure style—think 1960s tea dresses, delicate evening gloves and purses, and the most wearable collection of vintage shirtdresses in the city. Prices are accessible, too: frocks average $40; skirts come in around $45; and sequined items, which are typically upwards of $200 at department stores, are priced in the $50 to $60 range.

The small men’s section—an expansion is in the works—lies somewhere between retro prep and urban cowboy. Our favorite items are the bow ties and vintage pins, some of which date back to the 1960s. A solid collection of tweedy blazers and casual jackets round out the mix.

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Though the shop’s motto is “where every find is one of a kind” (and that is certainly accurate), label lovers and more conventional shoppers will not be without their fix. A truly impressive selection of Gucci and Louis Vuitton travelers and handbags sit atop shelves and inside glass cases, and finds like flowing Missoni skirts fill up the rack devoted to high-end designers. More conservative shoppers can pick up Longchamp and the occasional Lilly Pulitzer, and bargain or impulse buyers should veer straight for the suitcases filled with steals—these are It’s Vintage Darling’s $10 bins.

The store doesn’t have an official Web site yet, but manager Elise Peterson (@vintagedarling1) tweets of-the-moment picture updates on new merchandise. The shop also has a Facebook page  that it updates regularly. For pictures of the store and a look at some of the merchandise, view our slideshow.

It’s Vintage Darling, 3423 14th St., NW, 202-525-1327. Open Tuesday through Thursday 3 to 8 PM, Friday 1 to 9, Saturday 11 to 9, and Sunday 12 to 7. Closed Mondays.

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