It's hard to miss Dolly’s Vintage, the brightly colored downtown shop that offers an eclectic assortment of vintage clothing, accessories and gifts. Shoppers are transported to a whimsical world, complete with a mechanical pony and a collection of vibrantly colored wigs and go-go boots. The front of the shop houses a wide array of retro gifts, from nostalgic candy items to a bust of The King himself, Elvis Presley. The back of the store is filled with vintage clothing and accessories from every era; there are fanciful hats, dramatic fur coats, and dresses in every color of the rainbow. We spoke with owner Jennifer Donner to get a sense of the inspiration for Dolly’s and the vintage-shopping scene.
Durham Mag: What was your inspiration for opening Dolly's?
Jennifer Donner: Dolly's is named after my Grandma Doll, and really a tribute to both my grandmothers (the other being Thelma.) They were strong, kind, fun and giving women who also happened to have really interesting closets of clothing! I have been inspired by them, and my own mom, my entire life.
DM: What sparked your interest in fashion? Who are some of your fashion icons?
JD: I don't know that I am really fashion crazy, but I do love the individuality that vintage gives a person. I like mixing old with new because the possibilities are endless. I was always encouraged to dress myself...it didn't have to match...as long as I felt good in it that was good enough! I have four kids and have tried to do the same with them. I think finding the fun in clothing and figuring out what you love is much more important than any label. Mixing a new dress with vintage accessories, or a vintage dress with new shoes is a fun and creative way to set yourself apart just a little bit! There really is no particular designer that I am partial to...love the craziness of Betsy Johnson and the way she encourages women to have fun with their style.
DM: Vintage shopping has been very in fashion recently. Do you have any tips for shoppers who are new to the vintage scene? How do you find the real gems?
JD: I think vintage is popular today because it is a fun, creative, and economic way to set yourself apart. Important for new, and old, vintage shoppers...Make sure you feel comfortable in the style of clothing you are trying on...it may be really cute but you have to have the confidence to wear it or it will just hang in your closet. Start slow...something old paired with something new. Don't buy it if it needs a lot of repair...again, it will just hang in your closet waiting to be fixed. Remember that vintage clothing should not, in most cases, be overly expensive...make a modest investment and just have fun with it. I buy most of the clothes and vintage accessories at Dolly's from individuals who want their things to find a good home. I like this because I get to meet a lot of great people and have some good stories to share about the history of the clothing! The people are the best part of what I do...both people I buy from and my customers.
DM: What is your favorite piece of clothing and why?
JD: I don't know that I have one favorite piece of clothing. I love anything that has held up over time and has been taken care of. I love that someone may have been dipping into fondue and drinking gimlets in a dress in the 60's and now someone is wearing it to a friend's wedding in 2012! I lost my mom and I have one of her Hawaiian mumus hanging in my closet. I don't wear it much but it makes me happy to see it. So, if I had to pick, that would be my fav!
For more information about Dolly's Vintage, call 919-682-1471 or click here. 213B West Main Street, Durham, NC 27701.