A Vintage Affair - Isabel Wolff

Every dress has a history. And so does every woman. 
Phoebe Swift’s friends are stunned when she abruptly leaves a plum job to open her own vintage clothing shop in London—but to Phoebe, it’s the fulfillment of a dream, and her passion. Digging for finds in attics and wardrobes, Phoebe knows that when you buy a piece of vintage clothing, you’re not just buying fabric and thread—you’re buying a piece of someone’s past. But one particular article of clothing will soon unexpectedly change her life. Thérèse Bell, an elderly Frenchwoman, has an impressive clothing collection. But among the array of elegant suits and couture gowns, Phoebe finds a child’s sky-blue coat—an item with which Mrs. Bell is stubbornly reluctant to part. As the two women become friends, Phoebe will learn the poignant tale of that little blue coat. And she will discover an astonishing connection between herself and Thérèse Bell—one that will help her heal the pain of her own past and allow her to love again.





Phoebe Smith is a young Londoner with a nice paying job at Sotheby's auction house when she decides to walk away from it all and open her own vintage clothing shop. Phoebe's best friend from childhood, Emma, is now a designer of hats & fascinators for royalty and celebrities across the UK.. at least until tragedy befalls, costing Emma her life. Phoebe unwittingly plays a part in the tragedy, which ends gives her relentless guilt. Phoebe finds healing after being introduced to elderly Frenchwoman Therese Bell, who initially contacts Phoebe to sell her vintage wardrobe. There is one small coat in Therese's collection that she refuses to part with. The tragic WW2 era story that goes along with the coat has parallels to Phoebe and Emma's story, which ends up helping Phoebe process her emotional pain.


I like how this story looks at why people are drawn to the certain styles / historical periods of clothing they are and how people get attached to certain pieces as well as how simply getting the right outfit can give a person a lift in spirit, give them hope and strength to push past dark periods. I especially liked the story of one of Phoebe's customers in the shop -- how one amazing vintage party dress empowered her, not only giving her her sexy back but also giving her the courage to stand up to her douche-y, controlling boyfriend... not only dumping him but also providing information about his shady business dealings (arson, fraud) to the authorities.


I also got a laugh at Phoebe's mother. She doesn't really understand Phoebe's fascination with vintage items, often pointing out "someone could have died in that!"