San Diego may not be considered one of the fashion capitals of the world. Unless you consider flip-flops and cargo shorts high-fashion, which no one does. Not even if your flip-flops cost $500 and your cargo shorts are made from the skin of a Bengal tiger. So it's a pretty big deal when an award-winning vintage shop that's supplied inspiration pieces for the likes of John Galliano, Missoni, Stella McCartney and Prada and has garnered major kudos from British Vogue decides to leave London for our comparatively smaller town. (Prada used a skirt purchased at the London shop for $200 to create a design they later sold for triple that amount.)

The Girl Can't Help It opened this past weekend at 3806 Grim Ave. in North Park. I stopped into the shop while they were still setting up and talked to owners Sparkle Moore and Jasja Boelhouwer. The biggest question was a simple one. Why?

"We were sick and tired of cold weather," says Boelhouwer, who joined forces with Moore in 1994 to sell the coolest vintage goods they could get their hands on. "We looked everywhere and we just kept coming back to San Diego. The weather here is just the best."

Point, San Diego.

The shop offers vintage pieces from the '30s through the '60s, though they specialize in '40s and '50s Hollywood glamour. I spotted gorgeous dresses suited for a Bond babe, hand-painted Mexican skirts, one- and two-piece swimsuits in cute prints and fuller cuts, men's ties, dress shirts and jackets. There are also tons of great accessories, like scarves and handkerchiefs (some of my favorite things to buy vintage), gloves, purses as well as a section devoted to housewares and decor from the past.

Photo by Alex Zaragoza

Moore got in the vintage game in 1980 in New York City. She says she and Boelhouwer are the perfect ying and yang for their business.

"I always say Jasja and I come from different angles of vintage fashion," she explains. "I come from the fashion angle and Yasha comes from the history angle and we both come from the music angle. We both love the glamour, the music, the B movies, the whole genre of that Hollywood glamour image. It's just what we've always collected and worn."

"I think it's also that we haven't got much interest in popular culture and popular clothes," adds Boelhouwer.

Shopping vintage ain't cheap. Boelhouwer and Moore admit their goods are a bit on the high-end side. I saw skirts and dresses priced above $100. However, they feel it's worth it.

"It's going to be very rare to find somebody who's wearing the exact same outfit as you have," assures Boelhouwer. "Some people even think vintage clothes are too expensive, but you think, 'Yeah but if you're really into it, you'll be wearing it this year and you'll still be wearing it in 10 years time.' It's an investment and you really get value for your money. It's better to buy something that's already out of fashion because it can only come back in."

Moore also feels the quality and craftsmanship of vintage fashion makes the price worth it. She does have a point. Some of the vintage pieces I own are 50 years old and still look great, while the shirt I bought at Forever 21 last week looks like crap after a single wash. 

While they recommend that buyers come in to try on clothes, Moore and Boelhouwer also sell online on Etsy. Fit can be an issue since modern body shapes are much different than they were back in 1955. (Thanks a lot, McDonald's and low-rise jeans). Moore and Boelhouwer offer help with size questions and have tips on squeezing into a vintage dress. For instance, you have to "hike up your boobs" in an older dress because of the darts. So your sloppy Gap bras aren't going to cut it. Good to know.




Know of some cool boutique? Email your Urban Scout blogger Alex Zaragoza at alexz@sdcitybeat.com. You can also find her making dumb jokes on Twitter.

Calendar

  • Visit one of the 70 participating restaurants, bars, coffeehouses and nightclubs in town on this night and 25 to 50 percent of sales will go to local HIV/AIDS services and prevention programs. 
  • Anthony Bernal and Chris Ward, who are vying to replace Todd Gloria on the San Diego City Council, will discuss urban issues, such as parking, homelessness and new developments
  • The new exhibition designed by Dave Ghilarducci is made from hundreds of rolls of packing tape and bound together by layers of plastic shrink-wrap. Visitors can navigate their way through cocoon-like passageways...
  • The renowned Mexican black and white photographer presents an exhibition exploring the principal themes within three groups: "Bestiarium"," Fantastic Women" and "Silent Natures."
  • Presented by Pacific Arts Movement, the sixth annual mini film fest features 14 film programs from 10 countries that includes everything from docs to romantic tearjerkers. See website for full lineup and...
  • The San Diego County Bike Coalition hosts this monthly bike-in happy hour event to get biking residents involved in their communities and discuss bike projects planned for that specific community
  • Debunk some of the stereotypes surrounding cannibalism at this new exhibition that takes a hands-on approach to the subject. Includes video games and interactive activities where patrons will have to decide...
  • So Say We All's monthly storytelling night features stories about those jobs we took because we had to take a job. Featured readers include Allison Gauss, Annmarie Houghtailing, Cecile Estelle, and more
  • Artists from the all-abstracts group show will talk about their work and techniques. Artists include Edwin Nutting, Danielle Nelisse, Leah Pantea, Lenore Simon, and more
See all events on Thursday, Apr 28