Lauren Naimola’s ensemble is polished, elegant, and not easily categorizable. It seems to be vintage–since she’s the proprietor of the newly opened Dear Golden vintage store, that’s a safe bet–but it’s not costume-y or even identifiable with any particular decade.
“It’s not what you call stylish,” she says of her dark cotton shirtwaist with a peasant neckline and a full skirt. She has cinched it with a belt that has a complicated metal clasp and is wearing knee-high laced boots. “The dress is from the seventies. Well, maybe older: it has a metal zipper,” she notes with quick professional appraisal. “The boots are from the eighties.” She can’t remember how or when she acquired them.
“People who have a knack with style make it stylish” is how she describes her customers and herself. “I don’t pay attention to what other people are wearing. I’m always the most dressed-up person in the room,” she says calmly.
She gravitates toward vintage clothes because “what most people are wearing is really boring. I think most clothes today are boring.” Like? “Crocs are boring. I’m not loving that look. I’m not loving slovenliness or sweats.” But she’s not unreasonably obsessed with form over function–for instance, down jackets don’t bother her: “In Michigan, people need comfortable warm coats; that’s got to happen. I was just telling my husband that vintage shoes are beautiful but mostly they’re uncomfortable. I wore Dansko clogs while I was setting up the shop.”
She is tugging a slate blue tiered dress ($240, “late forties or early fifties”) onto a mannequin in the window. “There are a lot of vintage stores in the world. This one is just for women. Everything is hand selected, highly curated. It has a narrow scope, the twenties through the seventies, no polyester.” (She seems to have musical tastes to match: a Cole Porter song plays softly, followed by early Springsteen.)
Dear Golden’s jewelry, from more or less the same decades, is a business within a business run by manager Michele Longo. Longo says, “I’m drawn to really big, unusual pieces, things that you wouldn’t see anywhere else.” She’s wearing an assortment of striking rings: silver filigree twined around Mexican fire agates, amethyst, coral, malachite, turquoise, and an assortment of wood and brass bangles up to her elbow.
Naimola, thirty-nine, from Adrian, started collecting clothes when she was in high school (where she also collected her husband, Chad Pratt–they finally married in 2006). She majored in English at the U-M and snagged a job at U-M Press “designing book covers and events,” but meanwhile the clothing collection was getting out of hand. She opened an “atelier” in Ypsi in 2006, which served as HQ for her online business and private customers, and finally quit her U-M job in 2010.
“There’s great stuff that I pass up,” says Naimola. “Because it’s my shop, I can say ‘it’s just not my color. I don’t like it.'” So don’t expect to see much red or lime green here, two colors she intensely dislikes. “In fact, I like ‘non-colors,'” like the gray and cream on her business card and her large selection of pale, long dresses that are often bought as wedding gowns, whether that was their original intent or not.
“It’s not kitschy vintage. It’s wearable, relevant to today.”
Dear Golden, 211 S. Fourth Ave., 369-3010. Tues.-Sat. 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Closed Sun. & Mon. deargolden.com