Last weekend I was lucky enough to return to the Brimfield Antique Show in Brimfield, Mass. This gigantic outdoor fair began in the 1950’s and is now the largest of its kind in the entire country. A must-do if you live close enough (although serious antique hunters travel from all over to make it to this show). Don’t fret if you missed it! Round two is July 9th to the 14th, and round three is held on September 3rd to the 8th. If you love vintage jewelry, kitchenware, street signs, clothing, or essentially any other sort of nick-nack, I highly recommend you make the trip!
At fairs like this (read: enormous, hot, overwhelming) it is important to dress well, and I mean that in a number of ways. Practicality comes first. Make sure to check the weather and dress accordingly, and wear the comfiest shoes you own. But there is another, more often ignored significance in the clothing you choose to wear to such an event. In Brimfield’s tips section, they recommend making and wearing a shirt that says “I COLLECT (insert item here)” because it will draw vendors to you. My version of this tip has the same effect with none of the goofiness: choose clothes that express your aesthetic and, if possible, incorporate the types of items your looking for into your outfit. I took this approach and it worked wonders for me.
As usual, I was decked head-to-toe in black, with colorful accents in my jewelry. I wore a floor-length cotton dress and fishnet tights, which was perfect for the weather that day, and supportive yet lightweight leather boots. Comfortable attire: check. I also made sure to wear a few articles of vintage jewelry (of Navajo, Nepali, Tibetan, and Mayan origins), because they reflected the types of items I was looking for at the fair. This helped me immensely. Countless vendors pointed me in the right direction once I stepped into their tent, just by taking a glance at my jewelry. One vendor offered to trade me an incredible Navajo bracelet for the bracelet I was wearing — an offer I almost accepted. That opportunity never would have arisen if I hadn’t chosen my jewelry carefully. Wear things that express your interests and show you know what you want. Worst case scenario: you look awesome at the fair. Best case scenario: you find those perfect items, start conversations with collectors and form relationships with experts, and maybe even stumble upon a discount or two! I certainly did with some of my loot:
Now, I won’t reveal the jaw-dropping (low!) prices I paid for some of these items, but I will say that the turquoise bracelet, earrings, and two rings were heavily discounted. Just from taking the time to have conversations with people! Of course, you can always haggle at Brimfield, but vendors are used to that. Everyone tries it, every year. Remember that vendors are people too, and that sometimes a stimulating conversation will get you further than aggressive bartering.
Most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy yourself. Although such a large show is time consuming as it is, be sure to check out the nooks and crannies. Sometimes they’re the most beautiful.
The most intriguing.
The most mystical.
The most nostalgic.
The most alluring.
Or the most outlandish.
And get what you came for.