Rodellee Bas sees a lot of vintage. As the owner of Adored Vintage (adoredvintage.com), an online clothing store and boutique in Long Beach, she has an on-and-off love affair with digging through mounds of junk to find the proverbial gold, but one thing never gets old: "I love thinking about the story behind a dress," she says. "I wonder what that girl was thinking when she wore it. It's a tangible piece of history."
Stumbling upon a crumpled note stuffed into the pocket of a dress more than 70 years old, or finding the skirt of a traveling woman covered in signatures from all over the world turns her into a squealing, giddy little girl. Bas explains she's not one of those women who wears head-to-toe vintage every day, but her intense care for the pieces makes Adored Vintage one of the best curated stores around.
Bas doesn't turn away from very damaged pieces if she sees potential. If it can be patched, hemmed or darned, Bas can fix it. And every dress, blouse and pair of slacks is meticulously cleaned—except, of course, if it has a vexing armpit stain. "It's the worst!" she says. "Armpit stains are the bane of every vintage sellers' life! They never fully come out."
Her care for the pieces, as well as the fact that you're purchasing a historical item, makes the $60 to $300 price tags worth it, especially when sale-section items can be as low as $25. Bas also offers an almost-unheard-of 14-day return policy for store credit. But the time it takes to care for the clothes and maintain her website means that almost 80 percent of Adored Vintage stock can only be viewed in person.
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The cozy showroom is open by appointment only, but it's the staging ground for some of Bas' favorite moments. She plans with customers ahead of time and pulls a rack tailored to their size and interests, whether they're looking for a vintage wedding dress or just a ladies' day out. "Girls are here for two to three hours. It's like a dress-up day," Bas says.
"I think there's something very special about one person coming here and having a one-on-one experience," she says. After all, Bas loves to pass the story along.