“It’s Vintage Darling!”

Art & Lit Fashion


25 Little Clarendon Street, OX1 2HU. Tel 01865 558860

Uncle Sam’s display is endearingly mismatched as a heavy duffel is hung next to a red silk dress which is in turn placed next to a loud tartan blazer. Weighty aran knits are juxtaposed with light floral dresses . The owners themselves admit Uncle Sam has no particular ‘look’ but quality and variety are the main criteria so customers can create very different looks from the same store. This shop boasts a large collection of denim and leather jackets, thick knits and racks upon racks of shirts and jeans (the Levi’s selection is particularly impressive). Guys do have an advantage in the coat section and the jackets, twills and overcoats hover around the £30 mark. This shop is ordered by item type as it is fairly impossible to order by colour considering the large variety of prints. Exotic swirls, ruched detail, hound’s-tooth prints and intricate beading all catch the eye when scanning the selection. Accessories range from bow ties and cowboy hats to leather gloves and sunglasses. Many items are below the £10 mark so it’s certainly worth heading down the corner of Clarendon Street.

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5 Ship Street, OX1 3DE

Slovenian-born Iva Bentley is the woman behind Unicorn, one of Oxford’s finest gems. Not only does she tailor her display to the seasons, she also bases her decision on the student calendar so pop in if it’s nearing ball season. You may despair about not being able to see the items at the back of the shop as there is simply so much to sift through at the front but if you ask Iva to help you find a particular item, she is happy to help. Her keen eye picks out pieces that have ‘weight’ as she says, a far cry from the mass-produced basics that are useful but homogenous. There are Liberty shirts, light lace dresses, heavy tweed jackets and a huge variety of prints on waistcoats and shirts all under one roof. Instead of heading to Primark for a bop, it’s the same price to put down a deposit for a stand out item here (around £6) and it is naturally a popular destination for the costume organisers for drama productions. As one shopper says, ‘I found an Aladdin waistcoat in here, so surely you can find anything’.

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5 and 6 The Plain, OX4 1AS. Tel 01865 202303

In the window a sequined tulle confectionary of a princess dress stands next to a sleek column of green silk. The formal selection is the most prominent aspect of this shop on Magdalen roundabout with a large selection of waistcoats, jackets and suits for men and dresses from all eras for women which can be rented or bought. Downton Abbey, the owner notes, seems to have sparked a craze for long hemlines, rich and thick formal wear and it’s one that the Ballroom can take advantage of. Heavy fur coats, jackets of all materials ranging from £35-195 are lined on racks in preparation for those looking for protection from the oncoming cold weather. There are hats for the millinery-lover with boaters perfect for Pimms and punting, small cloche hats, caps with netting, top hats and bowlers to name a few. The range varies from the nostalgically pretty to dramatic pieces veering on fancy dress while always retaining an element of whimsy. A glance at a rack of ties has brash florals, green and yellow stripes, crazy geometric prints and pink paisley peep out at you. New stock comes in daily so it’s one for regularly popping in. Have a dance around here.