Contributed by Jessica Pollack
About a year ago I was wandering Queen West with my brother Adam and we stumbled upon Cabaret Vintage. Anyone who loves scouring the racks of a good vintage store as much as I do can relate to the thrill of new territory. Walking into Cabaret is like walking into another era: the jazzy sounds of crooners past and the boudoir feel of the store itself send you back to an age of meticulous style and high glamour.
The main floor of Cabaret showcases beautifully restored pieces for men and women (prices cap at about $300). Dresses, suits, shirts, skirts, pajamas and lingerie from 1900 to the 1960's line the racks on both sides of the store, ranging from casual to cocktail. The back of the main floor is all about accessories, from old-style hats and bowties to beaded evening purses and small collectable items. On my most recent visit I picked up an adorable white lace tunic for $60.
However, on that fateful spring day a year ago, the real fun for Adam and I began in the basement. "Cabaret Backstage", as the lower level is called, contains even more vintage clothing, accessories and a small selection of shoes. A rack of dramatic hats greets you as you descend, passing vintage hat boxes and luggage sets before emerging into the main room, which is smaller than the room upstairs but full of vintage goodies: think pleated palazzo pants, striking capes and vintage cowboy shirts. My brother and I must have tried on half the store and had a ball in the process.
Cabaret is owned by poet Thomas Dreyton, a seasoned vintage retailer, who is warm and personable and has a way of making customers feel like old friends. A few days ago when I was there he spoke to me as if we'd known each other for years and insisted I attend the stores 10th anniversary party. When Adam and I were there a year ago, Thomas was out but his son Tao was equally charming and fun to chat with about vintage and then some.
When Adam and I emerged from Cabaret I had a beautiful, embroidered tunic in hand and a new vintage haunt in mind. As it turns out, we had spent so much time in the store that 4 o'clock had come and gone and my car had been towed (the retrieving of which ended up costing far more than my lovely new tunic).