paris vintage shopping guide

by Krystal Bick
October 23, 2018

This past trip to Paris, I found myself with some time to kill.

That’s a weird statement to say about Paris, I suppose. How does anyone have “time to kill” when there’s so much to see and do and eat in the City of Light? Surely, I was delusional? And while, perhaps I was a tiny bit delusional (jet lag is real, folks), I think the feeling stemmed from the fact that I’ve been very fortunate to have visited the city numerous times with countless museums and landmarks on my hit list before, that this time around, I just wanted to feel like a girl living in Paris. Shopping on the weekends. Grabbing late night dinners with friends, despite an early wake up call for work the next morning. And digging for treasure in some of the best flea markets around.

Cue my friend Khuyen (pronounced ‘Queen’).

Khuyen and I met a few years ago when we were both living in San Francisco (she’s a Bay Area native) and then later reconnected here in NYC, before she ultimately hopped over the pond to live in Paris. Through the years, I’ve always admired her unapologetic style — it’s bold, it’s playful and she always finds the most amazing vintage pieces. During my last visit, I peeked through her closet in Paris and was blown away by how much it looked like an Opening Ceremony — the merchandising is ON POINT.

Of course, I couldn’t think of a better person to guide me (and subsequently you all) through her favorite spots to vintage shop in Paris. Without further adieu, I’ll let Khuyen take it away!

Krystal Bick: So my little American in Paris, how did you find yourself in the City of Light and when did it start to feel like home?
Khuyen Do: Well in short, I’ve studied French since high school, had it as a major in college, and have always had some of my best friends and memories associated with this city. Throw in the working in fashion factor et voilà! And while I’ve always felt at home here in the sense that fitting in and making friends or culturally assimilating has never been a problem, it wasn’t until a little over a year ago after finishing my masters that I really started to feel in my element – finally feeling like I was here on my own
time and doing things for myself, establishing and being a part of creative communities, time management (the French way), and even just little things like having “my” go-to produce stands at the market or “my” coffee shop with “my” people.
KB: Describe your style in 3 words:
KD: Colorful! F U N ! & I don’t take myself too seriously, so, (not) serious? Haha.
KB: Tell us about your best vintage find:
KD: Oof! That’s such a toughy. So much of my wardrobe is built up of vintage collected over the years and I feel like they’re all my babies but one of my favorite finds has been a beautiful red satin Dolce & Gabbana Moto Jacket embroidered with what must be thousands of little beads on a trip to Budapest!
KB: What do you always look for when you’re vintage shopping?
KD: I always go in with the mindset of not actually looking for anything. I mean, I’m more or less always looking for the loudest statement piece that speaks to me, but aside from that I try to approach it with a pretty clean slate. Otherwise, I think jewelry/accessories are what I tend to gravitate towards the most.
KB: Top vintage stores in Paris and why: 
KD: Honestly, I really just wanna say the Marché aux Puces is the best cause it’s true! But of course, if you’re trying to do a bit more casual, random vintage shopping it might not hit that soft spot for ya.
  • Killiwatch is super cool – it has a huge selection for both men and women both new and vintage (I know it can be hard sometimes for the fellas) and it’s not so ridiculous price-wise.
  • Thanx God I’m a V.I.P. is another goodie – lots of designers and beautifully curated. It actually feels like stepping into a shop instead of that one crazy aunt’s closet that you have to dig through for treasures.
  • Episode is another goodie that’s more for casual things like an awesome pair of pants or skirt for example.
  • And then otherwise, what’s really fun is looking up the “brocantes” scheduled for the week (usually on Sundays). These are basically little flea markets that can go anywhere from a block to an entire Main Street and these are definitely where the gems are hiding. (DEFINITELY have cash for these!) You can reference France Brocante or pick up a local copy of the l’Officiel des spectacles for the most current listings, including times and locations under the section “Marchés et Antiquitiés.”
 
KB: Any tips for the infamous Marché aux Puces Flea Market? Any favorite vendors? 
 KD:
  • Don’t forget to negotiate. Seriously! It sounds so obvious like duh! Of course! But in reality, so many people (myself included) can get so lost in the thrill of finding an item that we’ve fallen in love with and so we’ve convinced ourselves that we’ve already gotten a good deal just by finding it! Don’t feel bad about throwing around some numbers, the vendors are used to it. And if they’re unwillingly to budge, no worries, they’ll make it very clear but no hard feelings.
  • Don’t forget to have cash on you! Of course for bigger purchases they take card but some places only take cash and additionally, sometimes the cash is your ticket to scoring an easier deal in negotiating!
  • If you don’t speak French (or much French), fear not! Try to come prepared with a handful of phrases (so it looks like you’re attempting!) and don’t be afraid to use the calculator on your phone or perhaps Google Translate if you’re trying to get a price point across.
  • As far as favorite vendors, be sure to check out Jason and Heidi Ellis at Au Grenier de Lucie (Marche Vernaison, Allee // Stand 25) for their incredible Christian Lacroix jewelry, Olwen Forest (Serpette, allée 3, stand 5 – 7 ) has the most vintage Chanel jewelry I’ve ever seen in one spot and Alchimie Store (Marche Vernaison, Allee 7, Stand 126) has killer designer clothing pieces.
 
KB: What are you currently on the hunt for right now?
KD: Always always looking for interesting pieces of jewelry. That’s something I can never get enough of because they are pieces that will essentially live with you forever!
 
KB: Anything else you want to add that folks should know about vintage shopping in Paris?
KD: Don’t be afraid to search for bargains! There is much Chanel, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, etc. in circulation because of course, this is the motherland! But don’t let that fool you into thinking the first Chanel or “insert luxury brand name here” piece you’ve come across is a gem. (It very well could be!) But try to do some research first, and maybe try to come back for it. Ultimately, vintage shopping in Paris as is it anywhere else is a game of gut instincts! Trust yours, whether you’re new to it or not and usually you’ll come out on top!

OUTFIT DETAILS: Sezane dress (gifted) // Suistudio coat (gifted) // Zara boots (similar style here) // Olympia Le-Tan bag // Gas Bijoux earrings

Photos by Lydia Hudgens

13 thoughts on “paris vintage shopping guide

  1. Anne-Marie Hamilton says:

    This was a fantastic post but I kept scrolling through hoping to see some pics of Khuyen, her style, and that fantastic closet of hers you teased us with! Does she have a blog or website?

  2. Pingback: On the List

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