While I was there, listening to the banter between the employees and the customers, I had an insight, that a vintage clothes shop is the female equivalent of a vintage record shop. Not that vintage record shops are exclusively male (God knows I've spent enough time in them) but if you look at the collector's specialty vintage shop, as personified in High Fidelity, it's kind of a male bastion of top 5 lists, and import singles with alternate B sides on vinyl.
The staff of a good vintage shop may have multicolored hair, or be wearing a 1940's suit with matching gloves, or both. They will offer candid advice about fit and figure and what works and what doesn't that go beyond the fashions of the moment, and speaks more to your personal style and attitude. They really love clothes and can see value in all kinds and eras of fashion. Replace the word "clothes" with "bikes" and you could be describing the ideal bicycle shop.
A lot of vintage stuff, you need to be able to do a bit of DIY sewing to make work. You hem it, you patch it. If you're ambitious you take it in or let it out, you raise the seat, you change the gearing.
Unlike bikes, which are mostly mass produced, many great vintage finds were hand sewn by someone, specifically for someone- they're one of a kind. At Raspberry Beret, I bought a skirt that someone had sewn their initials and the date in the waistband. However mass produced, though, bicycles are so simple mechanically, that it's fairly simple and common for them to be customized- new fenders, different saddle, added basket, dinosour horn, flowers.....
Removing the 17T sprocket from Minerva's hub in a vintage eyelet dress. I don't normally do bike work in white dresses, but I thought this would just take a moment, and the Scientist caught me. The dress was a size 14, but I just couldn't resist the 50's silhouette and eyelet (My weakeness for textural patterns rears its lovely head.). I took it in an inch in the width of the bodice. I probably need to take an inch out of the straps too because it's still way too big on top.
There's something great about taking something old, and giving it a new life, whether it's an old skirt, and old bike, or an old building. It's partly nostalgia, but I'm not really a collector. For me it's more about taking useful things that have stood the test of time and extending their lives.