With huge clothing chains like Gap and J. Crew threatening to take over America’s closets it has become imperative to put in the extra legwork to wear something different.

Searching for an interesting, one of a kind vintage piece is an excellent way to spice up your look without breaking the bank.

Venus & Mars is Nashville’s hot new boutique boasting a wide array of vintage couture. Located in the trendy Belmont area, the store’s inventory leaves nothing to be desired.  The creaky wood floors and cracked walls are lined with well-merchandised racks of beautiful previously loved pieces. 

Everything from slinky vintage formal gowns to piles of bowties and cumber buns can be found at Venus & Mars.  Search the store for that perfect piece to create a look that is truly yours. Shoppers beware - This spot is for serious vintage shoppers only! 

Walking into the Hip Zipper is like walking into an artist’s private loft. The musty aroma of fabulous vintage finds, laced with a twinge of well-worn leather greets you and pulls you into the bosom of this beautiful boutique. The store’s owner, Trisha Brantley, has put so much love into the space that you instantly feel welcome as you step over the store’s threshold. The store boasts an incredible selection of vintage pieces including fedoras, shoes, wooly sweaters, worn jackets, cotton t’s and pretty much anything you could dream of. 

The store’s owner is so supportive of the local vintage scene that she will even offer to print you out a list of names and addresses of other vintage spots in the area if her store does not carry the piece that you are searching for.  The picture of Brantley’s parents that hangs on the wall of the shop speaks to the character of the Hip Zipper as a downright funky shop with a heart of gold.

Flora Vintage at Fanny’s House of Music is the coolest new shop to hit the Nashville vintage scene.  Flora Vintage seems to sparkle as you view the inventory from afar.  The shop is located within a music shop, a nesting doll of retail therapy.  Flanked on all sides by guitars and other assorted instruments, Flora’s Vintage sits in a large, well-lit room.

The walls are covered with very cool estrogen infused paintings salvaged from flea markets and yard sales The brand new shop owned by Nashville’s Lilly Callaway not only carries gorgeous gowns and sweaters but also boasts some great one of a kind accessories Flora Vintage at Franny’s House of Music blends two mediums that make Nashville great, music and off beat fashion.  This is not just a shop, but a soon to be Nashville destination spot for shoppers who seek something special.

If you are serious about vintage shopping, or if you even have just a couple of hours to kill on a weekend, shopping the racks at Goodwill is the absolute best thing to do.  While perusing the inventory at Goodwill, remember that many of the pieces you find at these high-end shops could have easily ended up at Goodwill had their owners been less conscientious. 

Shoppers often get lucky and score great designer finds for next to nothing.  Keep your eye out for leather bomber jackets, trench coats, destroyed soft t’s, and funky sweaters.  Ladies slips can be cut into sexy tops and bleach can be flicked onto any garment for that tattered aged look.  Don’t be afraid to replace the buttons on jackets and button down shirts to create a one of a kind twist!

Remember boys and girls, vintage shopping isn’t for the weak of heart.  Sometimes you have to search for that special piece; you’re not going to find and Old Navy style sizing system at a cozy, vintage shoppe.  What you are going to find are unique pieces with character and flare. Keep searching and you will find a piece that slips on like it was made for you.

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This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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Many of us have made resolutions and pledged ourselves to transforming some aspect, or aspects, of our lives. For some, these resolutions will involve career, budget, home ownership, etc., but for a LOT of us, they will involve various health, exercise and fitness goals.

Often, these resolutions are vague, like “lose weight” or “exercise more”, and way too often they begin with a gym contract and end with Netflix and a bag of takeout. Getting specific can help in holding yourself accountable for these commitments, though. So we thought it might be interesting to talk with a local gay trainer, James Mai, about his fitness journey, his work as a trainer and how he keeps himself motivated, and get some of his suggestions for carrying through on this year’s fitness resolutions!

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