Cheap Trick

If Angelina Jolie can wear a $26 evening gown, why can't you?

Its vintage air reminds me of my original mission: Since Jolie's dress came from a vintage clothing shop, shouldn't I visit a couple of similar venues? I begin at Star Struck, which has been in business on Greenwich Avenue for decades. Alas, though there is a round rack of frocks that, like Jolie's find, date from the middle years of the last century, they are priced far beyond what I expect. A black velvet and taffeta example is $75; a chocolate-colored rayon with coral jimmies around the neck is $88.

A visit to Andy's on St. Marks Place only underscores the bad news. In the vintage world, there are your high-end, label-conscious venues like Cherry's at Eighth Avenue and 12th Street, where you wouldn't expect to find anything for less than three figures, and then there are places like Andy's, which I have always imagined draws a clientèle made up of equal parts impoverished trannies and rebellious suburban high school girls visiting the East Village for a transgressive shopping spree. Do either of these constituencies have $75 to spend on a stained, iridescent lavender ball gown, or $65 for a velvet number sporting a row of shabby bows? Apparently, the answer is a depressing "yes."

Of course, unlike the Forever 21 or Joyce Leslie clothes, these vintage dresses have already proved they can survive for at least 50 years. Which certainly gives you pause, at least until you remember how many times you intend to wear it exactly once.

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