When Sarah Vogt was little, she was enamored with the fashion sported by Lucille Ball in “I Love Lucy”. She loved flipping through photographs of her grandmother’s 1940s New York fashion, which Vogt found to be fabulous. It wouldn’t be until after she finished grad school, however, that she fully dove into her love of vintage.
Formerly a professional violinist, Vogt started selling vintage as a hobby in 2014. She moved to Athens five years ago, and she now runs Carla Sue Vintage, a vintage clothing shop on Etsy. The shop, which Vogt runs with a business partner, has racked up nearly 4,000 sales and has an average five star review.
Ampersand spoke with Vogt about her vintage clothing shop, and what a modern fashionista can learn from vintage winter trends.
How do you source your vintage pieces?
My business partner and I both source stuff for the business, and it really it comes from a variety of sources. We both go to thrift stores and estate sales. The best things are private buys — when you just have a lead, for example, there’s somebody whose parents have unfortunately died or are moving and downsizing, and they’re ready to part with things. That’s the best way to source things, because you’re not competing with other people and you’re finding things “out in the wild,” as they say. I’ve loved finding things that come straight from the original owners, and they can tell you stories about how, “Oh this is the dress I wore on the plane for my honeymoon,” or “This was my first big purchase in high school.” I would say those three things are really where we’re sourcing everything: estate sales, thrift stores and private buys.
How do you stock your shop for winter?
In general, we have a lot of back stock, and there are certain pieces that we pull out every winter, like the classic ’50s and ’60s box coat — with or without a fur collar. That’s kind of a classic piece that always sells. There can be more trendy items that we either will pull out of back stock or search for. I’ve noticed this year it seems to be a trend to wear big overcoats, kind of menswear inspired — lots of ‘80s and ’90s overcoat styles.
Are there any winter vintage trends you think should make a comeback?
I do think that people used to have more of a cohesive look. Back in the ’40s and ’50s, a woman might have a black Persian lamb coat that would have a matching hat and muff, or something like that. Even if you think about the ’70s and ’80s, with a lot of things like Etienne Agner, the oxblood leather boots and gloves. Just having all of your outerwear accessories match was a big thing. I’m not sure if I see that as a trend that should come back. I think that it would make things easier. I have this navy blue trench coat that has a green plaid flannel lining, and so I found a hat from the same period that had the same colors in it, and now I’m looking for a pair of gloves that match just because I don’t want to have to think about putting things together in the morning.
Is there one winter staple everyone needs in their closet?
I would say a coat, because a coat is a classic piece that can be styled so many different ways. Vintage coats were so well made — these coats have lasted 50, 60, 70 years and other than times when there’s moth damage because they haven’t been stored properly, they hold up really well. I’ve tried on coats before from the ’50s and ’60s with whatever I happen to be wearing when I’m working and I’m like, “Oh man, it looks so chic and modern.” It doesn’t have to look dated at all.
This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.
This article appeared in the winter 2022 issue of Ampersand magazine.