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Melissa Elias and Kate Piercy are young ladies with old souls—and a strong taste for vintage. As the owners of Ash & Arrow, they curate an Etsy shop for vintage women's clothing and accessories, and they offer at-home try-ons (with champagne) for locals. The duo is expert at helping clients get gussied up in vintage style for special occasions, and during the holidays they take it a step farther. Not only do they sport old-school hairdos to shindigs all over town (more on that below); they sing, sip, and wrap presents in throwback style. Below, find their tips for having 12, very-vintage days of Christmas.
And, this guide is good for year-round vintage hunting in Chicago, too. There are some pretty nifty tips for local vintage lovers in here.
1. Spruce up your space with the perfect vintage ornaments and decor...
Melissa: Bachelor's Button Vintage has a great collection of unique vintage ornaments. The owners started their shop with their grandmother's collection, and a lot of their items date back to the early 1900s.
Kate: I personally top my tree with "Santa Mouse," a decoration my parents bought the year they were married. And I second Bachelor's Button. I especially love their teapot ornaments. I've also found great pieces at estate sales. When trimming the tree, I like to mix decades. I actually have an ornament for every year of my life.
2. Get decked out in vintage for holiday parties...
Kate: I bought my most favorite vintage dress from Shanti [Clark, store owner] at Very Best Vintage on Chicago Avenue. A friend had spotted it first—it's a gold sparkly 1960s dress with a sash at the waist— and I had to patiently wait hoping that it wouldn't fit her and it fit me. If my house was on fire, it'd be one of the things I'd grab. Dethrose Vintage has a lot of really beautiful dresses. Silver Moon on North Avenue is also a great place to get something fancy. Pointer: Many vintage pieces were made with extra room. If something you adore is just smidge too small, check the seams! There may be something to work with there.
Melissa: Veruca Vintage has the perfect 1950s black party dress right now and I'm tempted to buy it. It would be great for every holiday party.
3. Pour some vintage cocktails...
Kate: [I love] Milk punch. It feels like an unexpected combination of ingredients, but it's kind of like a bourbon milkshake and very festive. It's also a make-ahead cocktail, so if you are having a party it's handy. There's a recipe on Smitten Kitchen that I really love.
Melissa: Drink anything warm with whiskey.
4. Play vintage tunes to get you in the spirit...
Melissa: I like all the classics, in small doses. It reminds me of when my grandmother made me and my cousins go caroling, which was beautifully bittersweet.
Kate: I love an upbeat Christmas song and Slade "Merry Xmas Everybody" is the best! When creating a playlist for a holiday party, I like to keep it pretty mellow during dinner. Songs like Lena Horne's "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve" and Elvis's "Blue Christmas" are perfect. As the night goes on I like to liven it up with The Waitresses' "Christmas Wrapping" and Chuck Berry's "Run Rudolph Run."
5. Watch Christmas movies for cozy nights...
Kate: Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas is my top choice, but Holiday Inn is a close second. The 1940s dress Lila Dixon wears in the "Easy to Dance With" number is gorgeous—sparkly with a plunging neckline and strong shoulders. I'd love to have it!
Melissa: I never miss a rerun of Rudolph, Frosty, or Charlie Brown's Christmas
6. Bake up heirloom holiday cookies...
Melissa: I love rosettes! I used to make them with my family every year. I recently inherited my grandma's iron and will continue the tradition with my daughter. It creates a lovely powdered-sugar mess.
Kate: My dad makes my grandma's Cherry Date cookies. They have maraschinos so they turn out pink!
7. Pop into vintage spots around town...
Kate: We both love Marie's Pizza and Liquors on Lawrence at Christmastime. They fill the place with decorations and there's a few older gentleman who roam, serenading the tables. And yes, they do take requests! Richard's Bar on Grand Avenue also puts me back in time. They have an old jukebox with a huge selection of 1940s-1960s tunes including "Sally Go Round the Roses" by the Ikettes. That's a rare find!
8. For vintage hair...
Kate: Twisted Scissors off of Armitage is great for updos. They do pin curls, French twists, all the vintage favorites. Their prices are really reasonable too—enough that you can just get an updo any old random night!
Melissa: Sherri from [new shop] Lovespells and the Fox does amazing pin-up hair. She also makes vintage inspired hair pieces which are great for the holidays.
9. Add a little vintage to your table...
Melissa: I love mixed matched china and old hotel silver flatware.
Kate: My favorite part of entertaining is the cocktail mixing, so I buy vintage barware and glasses. It's hard for me to turn down a set of champagne coupes at an estate sale. I also bought a 1960s glass and chrome bar cart at Reform Objects on Milwaukee Avenue to show it all off.
10. Score vintage cards and wrapping paper...
Melissa: Every year I need vintage cards for projects that I'm styling. Etsy has a great selection of unique cards and paper. I like to have a collection on hand at all times.
Kate: I really love wrapping paper of all types. Vintage paper can be delicate because of the age, but it's a fun option.
11. Add vintage-style sparkle to your wardrobe...
Melissa:The Antique and Resale Shoppe on Harlem is my favorite secret spot.
Kate:That's the first I've heard of Melissa's secret spot! I want to check that out myself. Fuzzbuster Variety is my go-to for jewelry. [Owner] Rachel has a good eye for vintage pieces. She really carries something for everybody. If you aren't ready for a full-on vintage outfit for the holidays, adding a pair of vintage earrings or vintage necklace can be a fun way to change it up!
12. All I want for Christmas is…
Melissa: A vintage classic: A vintage black leather Coach shoulder bag. It's a staple piece that goes with everything.
Kate: An Abraham Palatnik Lucite owl. My grandmother collected owls and I'm expanding on it. All of his animal pieces are super cool and make wonderful gifts.
· Ash & Arrow Vintage [Official Site]
· Presenting: The 38 Best Vintage Shopping Experiences in Chicago [Racked Chicago]
· Ash & Arrow brings vintage clothes to you [Time Out Chicago]