Hidden Gems: Vintage Boutiques

Aoife Loughnane shows that the high street isn’t the only option, as she looks at the best boutiques that lie off the beaten track Om Diva27 Drury Street, Dublin 2In its old location of Georges Street Arcade, Om Diva was sure to draw you in the second you spotted its girlie, hot-pink exterior, encrusted with colourful flowers. Now moved just around the corner, it’s still as deliciously quirky as ever. The shop is a haven for vintage buys with an array of flirty chiffon dresses, patterned shirts, handbags and shoes that make it all look like a relic from your very stylish granny’s attic.If you’ve been embarrassingly caught one too many times in the same t-shirt as your classmate, Om Diva is sure too quiet any fears of fashion faux pas.The shop has an eclectic vibe, with its signature hangers embellished with colourful balls and its shopping bags made from recycled dresses. The staff are extremely warm and friendly, and are always happy to discuss the clothing or even just have a little chat.Not only does Om Diva boast a vast selection of garments, it’s also home to exquisitely bizarre jewellery, such as Twiggy brooches and Audrey Hepburn cocktail rings.  A visit to Om Diva is not so much a shopping trip, as it is a transportation back in time. This is one shop that merits a trip not solely for the clothing, but the experience as a whole. The Harlequin13 Castle Market, Dublin 2This antiquarian second hand shop is the ideal place for fantastic old school buys, but it is more than a little bit pricey. However if you like a good rummage, it’s possible to nab a cute, one-off treasure to keep forever.This little shop is crammed to the hilt with tea dresses, hats, and jewellery that glistens behind the glass counter. The sales rack starts around €10 but it never really has many decent pieces, unless it’s a green, ruffled ‘80s prom dress you’re looking for. Persistence and patience is key to finding the clothing gems Harlequin has to offer.One sage piece of advice for the vertically challenged: bring a tall friend, they’ll prove invaluable when traipsing the upper section of the clothes rail.Downstairs is home to a selection of menswear, offering a variety of shiny shoes, classic trousers and tweeds. In many respects The Harlequin is almost better for men, with more pieces you can see yourself wearing in reality in their selection of clothing.The Harlequin has rare pieces tailored to quench the desires of hip young men and women but at a price. Also be warned that the owner can display signs of terrifying rage; bargain at your own peril. The 3rd Policeman121 Lower Rathmines Road, Dublin 6The 3rd Policeman is a shiny-yet-vintage boutique. It is quite hidden as its narrow frame is next to a casino building and also blends into the charity shop next door. Its warm ambiance is due to the soothing orange colours, the soft jazz playing in the background and the lamps against the wooden cabinets.  You may find yourself lingering in the store simply due to the relaxing atmosphere.It’s hard to believe that this veritable Pandora’s Box lies in the heart of the take-away kingdom of Rathmines. The 3rd Policeman is chock-full of vintage treats like luxurious fur coats, leather handbags, rings and pendants, and funky shoes. There are also little shelves of bric-a-brac and curious old-style travelling cases. This slice of time gone by unfolds just like the suitcase, tumid with old furs, as well as hat boxes seething with silk scarves. To top it all off, The 3rd Policemen is reasonably priced, so you really can’t go wrong.All things considered it’s extremely doubtful as to whether this will be a hidden gem for very long.BowPowerscourt Townhouse, Dublin 2Opened two years ago by Irish designers Eilis Boyle, Margaret O’Rourke and Wendy Crawford, Bow is cosily tucked away in the corner of the ground floor in Powerscourt Townhouse. Obviously prices won’t be inexpensive, as they are designer labels, however if you’re looking to invest in some classic pieces, Bow is worth the trip.The stock includes satin evening gowns, rich scarves, hand-beaded coats, and beautiful jewelry pieces such as brooches and pearl necklaces. It is also one of two Dublin stockists to have Cambridge Satchel and Co.On top of this Bow supplies stock from Fair Trade labels such as People Tree and Camilla Norback. You may even find yourself rubbing shoulders with the very creator behind your purchase as the shop also serves as a workplace for its designers who are kept busy knitting or making jewelry in the corner.This quaint wonderland with its old items of furniture, canvases and animal heads is already catching the eyes of fashion magazines, such as Tatler and Irish Brides.Bow is a platform for many young Irish designers and certainly merits support. The shop sells under their won labels; Margaret O’Rourke (MoMuse Jewellery) Wendy Crawford (Wendy’s Wardrobe) and Eilis Boyle.This distinctive retailer deserves a visit, if not to purchase, just to ogle at its handsome delights.