Yves Saint Laurent once said that fashions fade, but style is eternal. If you’re searching for a wardrobe piece with timeless style, vintage might be the way to go. You’ll find luxurious handcrafted clothing and accessories at “Eclectricities,” a vintage store that opened in Glenwood Square last April. It is packed with fabulous treasures from the 1940s to the 1990s.
Owner Geanette Strosahl has been in the high-end clothing business most of her life. She holds a degree in art history from Washington State University, and a master’s in clothing design from Central Washington. Her first job was at I. Magnin in Seattle — an iconic, now defunct department store downtown. She then started a custom sewing business for women, where she learned how to create clothes that fit her clients’ body shape, skin tone and personal style.
She certainly has style herself. When I first met her, she was wearing a vintage olive-green knit suit that fit her like a glove, accessorized with an animal print scarf and booties. On another visit, she was dressed in a floor-length turquoise dress, topped off with a big string of pearls.
To her, clothes are a form of expression.
“If you’re a courtroom attorney, your clothes can affect how you are perceived as being professional and correct and right and strong,” she said. “If you’re an artist in fashion like myself, then for me it’s expression in terms of the art form of dressing and of clothing. If you are a worker in a mechanic shop you want to make sure your clothing is functional.”
She hand-picks and curates the items in her store, sometimes buying entire lots from major collectors. She described a trove she recently discovered, much to her surprise, at Granny’s Attic in Union Gap. “I went in there … I walked into this room and went…” she said, faking heavy breathing — “there was this whole collection. I had goosebumps.” She bought it on the spot.
They don’t make clothes like that anymore, unless you’re shopping at Prada or Chanel, she said.
“What you get is beautiful fabrics and design, wonderful lining,” Strosahl said. “Couture-type construction and details that you really don’t find that much today. The cut, the number of pieces to make the garment. Nowadays, it’s all about how quickly you can make it.”
She’s got vintage clothes and accessories for men and women, in addition to items she designed and new items from other designers. Her sewing machine is at the back of the store, ready to alter a garment that doesn’t fit quite right, or mend anything that needs fixing.
She said sometimes vintage clothes may have a little flaw, but they’re still more interesting than many items you can buy new.
“I’ve got things I’ve worn for 20, 30 years in my wardrobe. Somewhat different, but timeless,” Strosahl said.
Vintage also fits into a new trend towards being a less disposable society. Reusing clothes is better for the environment than constantly buying new ones and throwing the old ones away, she believes.
“People in this country are more and more aware of the garbage and the waste that we have and how it affects the entire world, even our oceans,” she said.
Many of her vintage items are great bargains. Plus, it’s just plain fun to sport some great new duds you won’t see on anyone else in town.
“For me, I wake up every morning and just say ‘Carpe diem’ to that outfit,” she smiled, Cheshire-like, in her electric blue dress.