Two Milwaukee fashion lovers will channel their love of vintage into a brick-and-mortar shop set to open this spring. Featuring looks from across the decades, Vintelier will offer shoppers clothing and accessories in a variety of shapes and sizes – including a curated section of plus-size vintage options called Trouvaille.
Vintelier owner Lauren Sturycz says she’s been knocking around the idea of a vintage store for about 15 years. This summer, she decided to take a leap of faith and become a vendor at a local market. The fun and success of the event opened her to the possibility of expanding her operation. After a conversation with a friend – fashion blogger Pamela Kieck, who expects to eventually have an ownership stake in the business – the plus-size collection became a part of the picture.
“Going to vintage shops who claim to be size-inclusive,” Kieck says, “only to find its one small rack of boxy tops and elastic waist pants, really made us want to ensure that our entire store is not only truly size-inclusive but [has] stylish, showstopping pieces for anyone at any size.”
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The search for trendy and unique pieces can be challenging for plus-size fashion enthusiasts. For shoppers looking for vintage pieces, the hunt is even more difficult. This isn’t a new struggle, according to Lauren Downing Peters, author of Fashion Before Plus-Size Bodies, Bias and the Birth of an Industry. In a 2018 Racked article, she explains that before plus-size fashion lines emerged in the 1980s, many women sewed their own clothes because fashionable plus-size options weren’t made readily available.
“It’s definitely a challenge to find more size-friendly vintage pieces,” Sturycz says. “A size 8 in the 1960s is definitely not the same as a modern-day size 8.”
Kieck, who also runs a “curvy fashion” Instagram account, shared her trick for finding vintage pieces that fit a variety of bodies: “Try not to be set on finding your size [on tags] but instead look for silhouettes that you love and fit your body. Don’t even look at the label. I have vintage sizes that range from size 8 to 26 in my own closet that I love and never would’ve tried if I was shopping just based on the size.”
The two friends source their vintage finds from thrift stores, estate sales, rummage sales and private sellers. “You never know what is in store for you when you are sourcing,” Kieck says. “What may seem like an average rummage sale or thrift store might have the most iconic pieces.”
Although both Kieck and Sturycz love vintage fashion, they have different styles and approaches to sourcing and styling. Sturycz says she has a “bright, bold Barbie style,” while Kieck is into moodier and edgier looks. However, they both love show-stopping statement pieces, which they will showcase in the shop.
“I think it’s safe to say that Pam and I love glam,” Sturycz says. “I definitely want us to be known for having one-of-a-kind ‘showstoppers’ that you won’t find elsewhere. All eras will be included in the shop, and we will eventually tap into men’s and children’s vintage as well.”
“When it comes to vintage, if you don’t get it now, it might not be there in a few days when you can’t stop thinking about it,” Sturycz says. “Think outside the box on how to style pieces and wear what takes risks.”