Thursday, July 8, 2010

Field Trip: Mercedes Bien

Not to be confused with Jumbo Slice up the street
2423 18th St NW, 2nd Floor
WashingtonDC 20009

(202) 360-8481

Mercedes Bien had been on my "to-visit" list for a while, but its odd hours forced me to keep pushing back my visit.  I finally made the time to stop by on a Saturday just as Ally was putting a sandwich board out on the sidewalk.  If it hadn't been for that sandwich board, I probably would have walked right by the shop.  The first floor is closed up, so you have to look for signs of vintage (like the small sign on the second floor, or the sammy board, as we will now call it).

When you reach the second floor, it's like wandering into some awesome old person's attic.  But instead, it's a carefully hand-picked collection by Mercedes herself, who has been in the vintage business for as long as your girl blogger has been around.  Not every piece is true vintage, but that's become common in vintage shops: sometimes, a great vintage-inspired piece shows up and looks great.  It's not sacrilege to put it in your vintage collection.  It's a tribute.  Sometimes that tribute comes from Target.  Shrug.  No big deal.

Mercedes wasn't at the shop when we visited, but when she was called for a price check, we found ourselves on the phone with her.  Talk about approachable!  If she's that friendly on the phone, I can't wait to meet her in person. Clearly, she loves what she does and loves the great construction of past fashion.  There's no particular time span favored in the store, but trust that the dresses and other clothing from the '40s and '50s through the '80s is top-notch.

Two areas of the store stood out to me for the very cool and surprising selection: belts and glasses.  (I'm surprised too.)  Mercedies Bien has an entire folding screen covered in belts, including wide modern styles that are popular now.  I've found that decent belts are hard to find in thrift shops, so I seriously considered plunking down $30 for a quality belt here.  As for glasses, you may not see many when you first enter the store.  But ask for them, and you'll be shown drawer after drawer of beautiful frames in every style.  From elegant, to funky, to bifocal (a lot of the pairs still have their original lenses), there's something for every face.  

Also worth checking out: the menswear section in the back room.  Not a wide selection, but suits and suit separates are reasonably priced for quality secondhand.

We're not going to lie, the store hours—12-6 on Saturday and 12-5 on Sunday—are grossly inconvenient.  But, if you can't stand to wait, you might be able to score an appointment with Mercedes herself.  Otherwise, carve a little time into your weekend to take a trip down fashion memory lane at this fun shop.

A bajillion more photos after the jump.

Not everyone is meant to wear Lacoste cardigans.

This is a shoe box/carrying case.  No joke!  I must have one.

Belts belts belts

We all know I love airline bags.  And I love finding them!  This one is from Japan Airlines.

MC checks out the itsy-bitsy housewares department.


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