Friday, September 25, 2009

Pumps & Pleats: Adventures in Hooti Couture

Story and photos by Michèle De Meglio

Sometimes posh boutiques can feel stuffy and sterile. But over at Hooti Couture in Prospect Heights, it’s fun, fun and more fun all the time.

Every inch of the shop’s racks, walls and floor space is chock full of women’s apparel, shoes, purses, hats, jewelry and various accessories, all of which are from the 1940s to early 1980s.

Vintage shopping is a totally different animal. You could pass on a furry leopard purse and then come back 20 minutes later to discover that a smart shopper swiped it up. That’d be devastating!

The oh-my-I-must-get-it-now desperation makes shoppers more eager to buy, buy, buy all the vintage finds they can grab — even those that are a bit impractical.

Consider a pair of gold lamé mittens, which could pass for boxing gloves, adorned with large crystal beetles. Sounds ridiculous but, in person, these babies scream Chanel! So said shop owner Alison Houtte. Hey, she’s a former top fashion model and the author of “Alligators, Old Mink and New Money: One Woman’s Adventures in Vintage Clothing.” She should know what’s fab!

In fact, Houtte spent several weeks driving her Chevy Tahoe from Florida to Pennsylvania in search of the hottest vintage finds. These fall fashions are now on Hooti Couture’s jam-packed racks. Check back often — new stock is added several times a week. (Insider tip — Monday, Wednesday and Friday are the best days.)

There’s so much merchandise in Hooti Couture it will blow your mind! There’s mink coats in classic black, winter white and even navy. Also, drawers of bold chunky jewelry, a divine tangerine purse (less than $50!), spotless white cowboy boots and iridescent pink stiletto boots with studded buckles.

What called my name, you ask? Well, from the moment I entered the sweet shop, I was taunted by a 1980s black leather and suede crossbody bag covered with gold studs. Hanging from a white mirror, the bag oozed an edgy rock star vibe that would be perfect with my faux-leather motorcycle jacket. For $40, it was a steal so I bought it!

This one-of-a-kind vintage find is mine. Go to Hooti Couture and get your own!

Hooti Couture is located at 321 Flatbush Avenue. For hours, call 718-857-1977 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.


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