Student Life: Finding your Style

Boutique to Vintage Chic

Feature by Sophie Kyle | 15 Sep 2008
  • Doll Grown Up


Running an almost straight line from the top of Victoria St to the Pubic Triangle is a route that will take you past some of the most boutiquey of boutique shops in town. Victoria Street features exponents of Manga-chic and local Scottish designers respectively, in Swish and Oddities. A little further down, Totty Rocks is run by two ex-ECA fashion undergrads who now design and sell very well made girls clothes. The Red Door Gallery exhibits and sells local artists' works, anything from dolls to buttons to paintings, and is great for presents. Round the bend and up the road Goodstead stocks Perks and Mini, WoodWood, Gsus, Staple and Johnny Cupcakes for the discerning label shopper, and off up to the left of the triangle, the newest of the pack Pageant rallies a cry for old-skool trainers and boys garb with style.


Another city centre area choc-a-bloc with vintage stores all within walking distance of one another is the West End of Glasgow. A whistle stop tour would start at Retro on Otago Street, one of the UK’s oldest vintage stores and a great source of 1970s maxi dresses - they also offer 10% student discount. A short walk up the road takes you to Watermelon who specialise in edgy pieces with a rock and roll vibe. Next head to Starry Starry Night on Dowanside Lane, famous for their period pieces from the Victorian era onwards. And then head down the lane to Glorious Clothing for a mixture of second hand and vintage pieces. Just next-door is Circa Vintage where you’ll find glamorous clothing and fabulous costume jewellery. Top it off with a trip to Handbags and Gladrags on Dumbarton Road, a hidden gem full of vintage bargains.


Birds of a feather continue to flock together in Aberdeen on The Green. Hanon has become an internationally recognised online retailer of urban cool with the latest Adidas and Nike limited edition clobber, while across the way, for the girls, Coco Violet’s eccentricity easily edges out Audrey Hepburn in the individuality stakes.


Looking good doesn’t have to get in the way of doing good, so if you want clothing with a conscience then try heading to a charity shop. One of the best charity shops for clothes is the Salvation Army on Dumbarton Road in Glasgow. Barnardos Vintage in the Merchant City, Glasgow and Barnardo's Vintage on the Grassmarket, Edinburgh are boutique-style charity shops selling high street labels, designer and vintage pieces for guys and girls. The prices are considerably less than vintage stores so it’s easy on your wallet and your conscience. Oxfam have specialist stores dedicated to clothing, books and music. Keep an eye out for textbooks in the Oxfam bookshops on Byres Road, Glasgow, Nicolson Street, Edinburgh and Back Wynd, Aberdeen as local students tend to donate their unwanted tomes here.


Don’t be put off by high street shopping, there are lots of bargains to be found and many shops offer student discounts. Topshop is one of the best high street stores around and offers a 10% discount to students. Their flagship store on Argyll Street, Glasgow also stocks labels like Lipsy and ranges from up and coming designers like Emma Cook and Christopher Kane. American Apparel is a favourite haunt for hipsters who flock in droves for their lamé jackets and leggings. American Apparel t-shirts and hoodies are good investments, so make use of their limited student discount offer - 10% off until 31 December. But for a real high street bargain try one of the city centres' Primarks. Love it or hate it, it can’t be beaten for price.


If you haven’t guessed by now, Glaswegians know how to find a bargain and if you don’t mind getting your elbows out then try the Barras market. The Barras is a Glasgow institution, growing from a few wheelbarrows into a sprawling mass of market stalls and shops selling everything from happy hardcore CDs to second hand clothing, antiques and downright junk.

But if you’re more of an indoors sort then try out Made in the Shade at the Lighthouse on Mitchell Lane, a craft collective inspired by 1950s housewives and the nostalgia of a bygone era. Here you can find vintage clothing, handmade accessories and retro knick-knacks and plenty of kitsch and chintz. Their next event on 25 October will be host to over 50 independent designers, and if you get down there early you could walk away with a free goodie bag worth up to £30.



Godiva, Edinburgh

For years, Godiva has been one of Edinburgh's premiere shops for having rails full of quality local design and vintage clothes. Not only has founder Fleur Macintosh built up a stunning collection of vintage dresses, but has also created a shop that showcases some of the best homegrown and UK talent around. The current collection consists of Red Mutha's customised multi-colour '80s chic, puffy skirts and asymetrical collared dresses from Rowan Joy, funky hats from Jill Corbett and girly leather waistcoats from Nonchalant. Whatever your tastes, you're guaranteed to find something here that will outlast the rest of your student wardrobe.

Brazen, Glasgow

There’s more to Brazen Studios than meets the eye. Situated on the corner or Albion Street in the hip Merchant City, Brazen combines a cutting edge jewellery boutique with a fully equipped jewellery workshop where designers can rent out benches. Look out for the ornate photo frames on the back wall and catch a glimpse of the designers at work.

Founded in 2004 by Sarah Raffel, a graduate of the Glasgow School of Art, Brazen stock jewellery from local graduates and designers from around the UK. Brazen is full of contradictions - in one necklace oxidised sterling silver guns are studded with blood red crystals and in another classic strings of pearls are mixed with contemporary metalwork. It’s little wonder that last year Brazen were voted the Most Stylish Boutique at the Scottish Style awards. Make use of the 10% student discount to snap up work by an up-and-coming designer before they hit the big time.

Raw Vintage, Glasgow

In life you’ll come across people who tell you that you can’t have it all. Well that’s rot, at least when it comes to shopping. If you need proof then take a trip south of the river to Shawlands and stop by Raw Vintage. Raw stock not only a selection of developing designers and vintage fashion but also offer a bespoke design service. The carefully laid out stock – all the rails are organised by colour – makes it easy to pick out complementary pieces from their range of clothing, jewellery and accessories.

Their alteration service means that any vintage garments can be altered to fit and if it’s a lost cause then they can trace the pattern and rustle you up a whole new copy! Their unique customisation service allows you to inject a new lease of life into old clothes for as little as £10.

Betsy LaBelle, Glasgow

Fans of retro glamour and silver screen starlets will feel at home in Betsy LaBelle. This sweet little lingerie store on Byres Road has a romantic and nostalgic feel, with floral flocked wallpaper and old LPs on the record player and ranges from What Katie Did and Kiss Me Deadly to French label Bien Fée Pour Toi. If you want to channel pin up girls like Bettie Page then try out the silk bullet bras and suspender sets, or if you’re more of a Sandra Dee then have a look at the floaty nightgowns and quilted bed jackets. Shop owner Hayley MacLellan offers a free bra-fitting service and can order stock, including their range of corsets, in your size. From 15-30 September Hayley is running a special student offer, giving seamed stockings away with any purchase over £40.

Mr Ben, Glasgow

There might have been pretenders to the throne but Mr Ben is Glasgow’s daddy cool of vintage clothing. It’s bright yellow façade, with rails of scarves and ties rippling over Kings Court, has cult status among local students and is as much a Glasgow institution as the Barras. Specialising in retro clothing from the 1950s through to the 1980s means that you can find anything from 1960s psychedelica to rose print tea dresses. They also have a great range of vintage boots, handbags and jewellery. The store is popular among vintage buffs, fashion fans and, as rumour would have it, occasional rock stars and actors who are passing through the city.

Full address and telephone information about all these shops can be found online at