Feeling nostalgic as summer fades into fall? Take a trip to Purcellville, Virginia and visit the boutique, Nostalgia, which is an experience that carries you back in time.
When the hypnotic voice of Billie Holiday travels across the room, you may find yourself searching for an iconic white gardenia to adorn your hair. Instead, take a few moments to marvel over the statement brooches, brush your fingertips along the rows of elegant furs, or select an armload of jacquard and seersucker dresses to try on with friends. Though the District said goodbye to WAMU’s long-running and beloved Hot Jazz Saturday Night radio program this summer, loyals to yesterday’s vibe have another way to be transported to the beauty of days gone by.
A visit to Nostalgia, is an experience to take in. Moving from room to room in the shop that was once an old home, gives customers somewhat of a history lesson in style through the decades. Built in 1880, the stately home on Main Street is filled with nearly 3,000 square feet of vintage clothing, jewelry and furniture. Whether a local or frequent flyer through town, no doubt you have spied the ever-changing mannequins that occupy Nostalgia’s the front porch. Owner, Silas Redd, reflects back on the road that led him Purcellville in 2016.
“For me, vintage tells a story and has more of an emotional connection than modern fashion. A person can look at a vintage dress, for example, and have a memory of a family member, a movie they saw, or going to a special place,” he explains.
Raised in Paris, Virginia, Redd says his mother and grandmothers have always been a strong source of style inspiration, each in their own way. He remembers taking an early interest in fashion in the nineties, when he noticed a specific magazine cover of British Vogue on a table belonging to his great-grandmother, Georgia. It made a lasting impression. What began as a class project while earning a fashion merchandising degree from Virginia Commonwealth University, eventually turned into a business plan for his dream store. Despite being turned down by 19 banks, he never lost sight of that vision. Over the next five years, he took jobs in visual merchandising for several big brands, as he slowly accumulated enough inventory to make his dream a reality.
Redd stresses that Nostalgia isn’t a costume shop or thrift store. These fashions are carefully handpicked. He chooses every single thing that comes in, mostly from buying trips up and down the East Coast. Consigned items make up only 10 to 15 percent of his offerings.
Taking cues from the interior decorators and home staging professionals he’s collaborated with over the years, Redd dresses the rooms. He looks for antique furniture he thinks would give new life to a home, but he keeps its original integrity. Translation: you won’t find chalk paint here.
When it comes to the quality clothing, nothing gets packed away.
From cashmere, tweed, and wool, to furs such as fox, coyote, mink and beaver, you’ll find all of it, including the capes and ponchos, upstairs in the room with the cozy fireplace. With all seasons on display year-round, the store sold almost 600 coats last year, making outerwear easily his best-seller. Designer brands he’s carried include Chanel, Gucci, Hermes and Yves Saint Laurent. Redd knows that even a woman who tends to be neutral and basic in her day-to-day look can dress it up with a coat and get noticed. He comments that the surplus of blended fabrics on the market these days is a stark contrast to what you’ll find in authentic and well-made vintage pieces.
As for trends, what has surprisingly taken off at Nostalgia are sequins. Normally reserved for holidays and special occasions, Redd says the Millennial generation is coming in to buy sequined jackets, for example, and styling them in ways that he never would have thought, like pairing them with distressed jeans and Chucks. “We might live in an age with all the social media influencers, but also – anything goes,” he says. Rhinestones and bright colors are sought after in vintage jewelry, opposed to the dainty fine jewelry, yet it’s still versatile enough for everyday looks.
When Redd started out in the industry, he says fashion from each decade was much more accessible. Then once Hollywood had greater success with period films and TV shows, such as The Great Gatsby and Mad Men, those pieces became harder to find. “Sure, people buy what they like or what might have sentimental value, but there’s also no denying that celebrities and musicians are dictating trends,” said Redd. “It shifts so quickly. Two years ago I couldn’t give seventies clothing away and now I can’t keep it in stock.”
For a fun way to shop with family and friends, Nostalgia hosts private shopping events at no charge. Refreshments are provided and everyone in the group receives a discount. Though he doesn’t carry as much menswear, Redd’s inventory includes ties, hats and other accessories. He is fully stocked in both new and vintage styles, providing great options for the many races and hunt balls throughout the year.
“Women deserve to feel good about themselves, whether going on a first date, or looking for something special at the last minute, because they’re busy taking care of everyone else,” added Redd. “When you come to the store and find something you like — it’s unique and you know it’s not out there on other people.”
Look for Nostalgia at 142 E. Main Street in Purcellville, and be sure to follow the mannequins on Instagram and Facebook @shopatnostalgia.
Written by Summer Stanley
Photos provided courtesy of Silas Redd
This article first appeared in the September 2018 Issue.