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Vintage Shopping with Splendora’s Gina Pell

Ask Splendora founder Gina Pell about her must-haves style picks for spring, and you might expect a lengthy list comprised of the latest from Louboutin and brand names plucked off the racks at Barney’s New York. But you’d be wrong.

When we sat down recently with Pell to quiz her about spring style, the conversation surprised us with its quick shift to vintage fashion. Instead of visits to high-end boutiques or a trend treatise on choice items from spring collections, Pell’s style radar has its sights squarely set on one local shopping event, this weekend’s Vintage Fashion Expo.

“I love vintage because it’s green, and it’s original, and it lasts a lifetime. I mean, it already has,” says Pell, whose San Francisco-based site has long been a daily must-read for fashion fans.

A regular at the semi-annual exhibition, whose vendors span periods from the Victorian to Art Deco to the 1980’s, Pell has been known to spend hours pouring over the racks at the shows, making friends with dealers and searching for new finds.

“It’s really like treasure hunting,” says Pell.

For those new to vintage shopping, she suggests slowly adding vintage pieces by starting with jewelry and accessories first. And because the sheer volume of vintage at an event like this weekend’s can be overwhelming, Pell recommends narrowing your hunt to a few favorite time periods.

“Figure out what era you’re attracted to. For me, it’s 60’s mod, 70’s hippie and 80’s preppy working girl. And 20’s and 30’s accessories,” she says. 

Last but not least, her advice for shoppers frustrated with the notoriously small sizes of vintage: focus on outerwear.

“Coats are always the exception,” says Pell.

The Vintage Fashion Expo takes place March 20-21 at the Concourse Exhibition Center, 635 8th St., San Francisco. Tickets ($10-$20) are sold at the door.