If you’ve walked down Bedford Avenue in the last couple days, you might have noticed a bright purple awning that reads, “Miss Master’s Closet,” and the image of a one-eyed black cat watching you as you pass by.
This stylish vintage boutique, which doubles as a music studio for piano lessons and recitals, opened it’s doors August 13th.
And while it seems that the store popped up out of nowhere, owner Jessica Master has been dreaming of this business ever since she was a little girl.
Master told me the story of her first used clothing experience, when, at eight years old, she became obsessed with dressing like a hippy from the seventies.
“I was begging my parents for a pair of bell bottoms. It’s 1990, and they look at each other, thinking, where are we going to find this girl a pair of bell bottoms? So they take me to my first thrift store,” said Master. “Clothing had never seemed so interesting or amazing to me until I went in there. And the idea of having stuff that’s so unique, that really speaks about who you are and your personal style, it all just kind of came together right then and there.”
It’s hard to believe that a Salvation Army or Goodwill would be a life-changing experience for a small child, but Miss Master’s Closet could only be created by someone thoroughly addicted to second-hand clothing and accessories.
The space itself is art, made up of wide open wood floors, deep bluish green walls, Victorian style wallpaper and dark wood trim. An art nouveau piece hangs in one corner, and a 1940’s chandelier sparkles in the other.
The entrance is aptly marked by a framed Rembrandt print of a woman looking sideways, suspiciously, into the store. All in all, the place feels vintage – nostalgic and refined.
The clothing is arranged by color, and some of the clothes date back to the 1940’s. Even if you aren’t looking to buy, it’s worth visiting, if only just to browse the options-- dresses, shirts, pants, shoes and handbags reminiscent of another time or place.
When asked to described her style of selections, she answers, “I wouldn’t say that it’s any type of style, except Miss Master’s."
For Master, it’s about educating her customers about the clothing they purchase, so that when people leave the store, they “understand and appreciate the construction of the clothing.”
Master, who loves “thrifting,” as she calls it, admits that it is hard work.
“If you don’t have the patience, or the eye, or the wherewithal to go dig at a thrift store, you are better off going to a vintage store where the pieces are curated.”
“It is an art form,” she said. “These aren’t dirty, ratty pieces. A lot of people have that misconception about used clothing.”
Miss Master’s Closet may be slightly more expensive, but Master is saving shoppers quite a bit of time and work by bringing them cleaned, repaired, and tailored pieces.
“You’re paying a little more money to have someone a little more knowledgeable to do the legwork for you,” she said.
Master’s advice to shoppers who opt for the thrift option: “Check everything for flaws, read the care label, and find a good launderer or dry cleaner, tailor, and shoe repair person.”
And a little known fact, said Master, is that “there is no standard of sizing.” Industries change sizes all the time to make customers feel smaller than they are, so there is no way to tell what will fit.
So how do you know what to buy?
“Try everything on!” said Master. “The more you can see yourself wearing it, the more confident you should be in buying it.”
“Hopefully,” she added, “[the clothes] can inspire you.”
Miss Master’s Closet is open Thursday to Monday from noon to 8pm, and is located at 1070 Bedford Avenue between Greene Avenue and Clifton Place.