Anything But New offers everything old, charming


Photo: Ian Laughead/Iowa State Daily

Anything But New has a wide variety of vintage hats for both men and women.

Ian Laughead

Earth Day might have been a holiday created to celebrate our environment, but it’s also a box on the calendar that should have you reevaluating your choices, especially when shopping.

And, with song lyrics espousing thrift shops full of alligator shoes and velour tracksuits, there has never been a better time to get into vintage.

Anything But New on Ames’ Main Street isn’t all just the old knick-knacks or dusty fine china as it looks from the outside. Tucked into the front corner of the antique shop is a vintage clothing section full of handpicked items from as far back to the 1940s.

Beyond the 70-year-old prom dress cascading in pink ruffles and evening dress in red pleats, there are some unique, wearable items that could make quite the statement in any modern wardrobe.

A selection of inexpensive silk scarves are an easy entry point for the first timer, and the store stocks them in every pattern imaginable.

We saw a great blazer with just the right eighties edge in a blue check. At one point in its life, it was probably part of a career woman’s power suit, but now it can stand alone any Friday night with a chunky necklace over a pair of black leggings. And, that is part of the beauty of vintage shopping. The art is in the mix and match, and the rules all fly out of the window.

Dresses from every time period — store-bought, tailor-made or home-sewn — all have delightful period details and silhouettes, and each one reminds us that for all the selection of vintage-inspired clothing that a modern Forever 21 has, it doesn’t come close to the character of the real deal.

Nothing says vintage like hats and those old-timey accessories we’ve all somehow forgotten about, and this store doesn’t skip on the dramatics in the headwear department.

Made exclusively of dyed feathers, beads or even mock-croc, here there are arguably hats for every occasion and probably a lot of occasions that don’t even exist anymore.

The best ones are unwearable in this age, but if the British and their fascinators have taught us anything in these Kate Middleton-worshiping days, it’s that a statement hat makes any event a spectacular occasion.

Anything But New is not limited to only a women’s selection, however; menswear fills its own corner haberdashery, and it is every bit as interesting. Some pieces are mystifying, like an all-in-one men’s undergarment that defies real description, but others are ripe for the picking.

A recent shipment of hats are a definite highlight with everything from conservative black driving caps to a show-stopping beaver fur Stetson hat. Macklemore and his “Thrift Shop” don’t have anything on this.

And, if that hat shows the store has a bit of a sense of humor, then a very heavy suit straight out of the ‘70s takes it to another level. If the suit were not a sensory overload on its own, its past owner pinned a grainy photograph of himself in the suit from back when it was brand new.

Where the men’s section really shines, however, is its smaller accessories. The displays of tiny tie clips and tie tacks have all the charm of a vintage period pieces but with none of the costly dry cleaning bills.

Luckily for the customer, the husband-and-wife owners keep the costs in mind, pricing most of their vintage clothing selection under $30 an item. And sure enough, even the most extravagant of pieces in the store, like a wedding gown, clock in somewhere around $120.

The stock constantly changes depending on who is selling to them, and unlike any store you might find at a mall, the inventory can shift dramatically in the course of a few weeks, meaning every time you come in, you’ll have a very different experience.