Wayzata has long been a hot spot for fine consignment – Rags From Riches and Fashion Avenue are always full of designer pieces thanks to their locals’ guru-like sense of style.
But there’s nothing else like Circa Vintage west of Minneapolis, and the new store does, in fact, up Wayzata’s fashion ante: the shop carries retail generally associated with uptown Minneapolis or New York City, different from the traditional J.Crew vibe of the lake crowd.
Since it’s opening in the spring of 2009 it’s settled well into the Wayzata shopping community. Laura McPhillips, the store’s owner, says she feels Circa is a good addition to the unique shopping venues already present in the town.
The store is a quaint and cozy venue on Minnetonka Avenue right across the street from the Post Office. But despite its size, Circa’s a treasure trove of one-of-a-kind finds, filled with colorful clothing and unique jewelry.
Retro shoes, pillbox hats and floral-patterned clutches line the walls. Rhinestone and Bakelite jewelry is abundant. The wood floors creak when customers browse the racks of original and historic pieces. There are vintage cufflinks and neckties for men, as well as shirts and blazers.
McPhillips, a Minnetrista native, says she’s been a vintage enthusiast since age 12.
“I was always finding funky things at rummage sales and thrift stores,” she says.
But Circa Vintage is a step up from her thrift store rummaging. McPhillips is selective about what she chooses to take into her store, taking only the best pieces.
“Everything is handpicked and scrutinized,” she said.
Wayzata, she says, is a great location to get some very high-end vintage couture.
“The shop is brimming with quality,” she said. “We have near mint vintage wares from the 20s to the 70s: YSL, Gucci, Schiaperelli, Chloe and have had Chanel. We even have some of the lesser-known vintage that is highly coveted like Lucite, Bakelite, Julianna Jewelry, Coro and antique jewelry and purses from the 1900s-20s.”
Circa buys and consigns from anyone, and offers store credit for merchandise.
McPhillips doesn’t like to alter things, holding that vintage pieces need to be appreciated for what they already are.
She does, however, mend and fix articles of clothing that need re-furbishing before they can be ready for sale. She also dry cleans and launders all clothing before putting it on the racks – “I use Sir Knight Dry Cleaners, they do a fantastic job!”
Lucky for Circa, what goes around comes around. McPhillips says vintage fashion of any sort has been in style for decades.
“I think the fashion world will always look to the past for inspiration,” she said. “In the 60s we saw a resurgence of the 20s era. In the 70s it was Victorian. In the 80s we mimicked the 50s-60s.”
McPhillips has also been outfitting a number of vintage-themed parties.
She says her customers are "generally very in style" and "tuned into the fashion scene."
“They appreciate the originality of vintage. They strive for a signature style and Circa Vintage delivers that,” she said. “It's fun to incorporate vintage and original pieces into the modern girl’s wardrobe.”
At the moment, she says what’s in are 70s-esque maxi skirts, neon hues and the full, lady-like skirts of the 50s and early 60s (“The Mad Men look is huge right now and has made vintage more mainstream”).
McPhillips’ favorite merchandise in her store, though, is the handbags.
“I love all vintage handbags,” she says; “They are so much more stylish.”
Wearing vintage, she says, helps its wearer be more of an individual.
“I think there is no better way to express individual style than adding a vintage element to a wardrobe ensemble.”
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