Thursday, July 9, 2009

Pumps & Pleats: Coney kitsch by the boatload!

Story and photos by Michèle De Meglio

Coney Island is loaded with tiny shops offering tourists an array of cheap shades, beach-themed T-shirts and neon flip-flops. But there’s one store that is proud to cater to locals.

The Coney Island Beach Shop, located around the corner from Nathan’s, is full of fashion finds that would please tourists but are still cool enough for Brooklynites. And affordable! The owners say they intentionally keep prices low for local residents.

Many of the $14.99 T-shirts are designed and printed by the shop’s staffers. The newest ones recall Coney Island’s heyday when the Parachute Jump and Dreamland ruled all.

There’s the distressed cream tee featuring the head of an elephant with long tusks. It’s an homage to the Elephant Hotel, which operated in Coney Island during the 1890s and was in fact shaped like an elephant. (Impressive side note: guests used a spiral staircase in the hind leg to reach their rooms. Earth to developers! Bring this back!)

Several shirts feature the clown face of “Tillie,” who is named after George C. Tilyou, the owner of Steeplechase Park. On some, his beaming ear-to-ear smile appears in a circle on your hip, on others, his happy mug is encased in a Coney Island logo. You can also catch him on royal blue beach towels.

In a nod to the famed Mermaid Parade, a grungy gray shirt boasts a yellow mermaid surrounded by ocean bubbles and a friendly jellyfish. Unlike many of the annual parade’s revelers, this modest mermaid’s seashells are firmly in place.

How about a slinky bikini under those T-shirts? The Beach Shop recently filled its inventory with bikinis by Body Glove and Huit. Forget department store prices, these babies retail for $30 to $40 and come in eye-popping colors and prints like Caribbean blue paisley, red zebra stripes, and pink and yellow tropical flowers.

If you’re looking for something a little dressier to wear to Ruby’s for evening drinks, check out the section of casual dresses.

There’s a knee-length tube dress in an emerald green shade by the bust that bleeds into an ocean blue hue from the hips down.

Looking for something super trendy? For under $20, you can score a colorful sublimation-style dress boasting a beach scene adorned with a massive koi. With some oversized shades, comfy sandals and a strawberry daiquiri, there’s no better beach style around.

The Coney Island Beach Shop is located at 3018 Stillwell Avenue. For hours, call 718-333-1110 or visit

Michèle De Meglio is a native Brooklynite addicted to all things chic. Check out Pumps & Pleats each week for more adventures as she scours the borough for fab duds and accessories.


BrooklynBlogger July 10, 2009 at 8:43 PM  

Thanks for writing about us Michele!!

Anonymous,  July 11, 2009 at 11:34 AM  

You can't pass up on The Coney Island Beach Shop - I go there all the time!

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