Red is a thing with this woman. Her hair is cranberry red, her lips are bright red, and there are lots and lots of red things throughout her store. Her name is Michelle Lee, and she is the owner of a very eclectic, very cool vintage shop that opened in Durham four years ago. Today she is cutting out fabric flowers to decorate the many bags and purses that hang from silver hooks or adorn store ledges. ("Um, I'm boring. All I do is work and do a lot of crafts and play with my three children.")
A customer marvels at her merchandise, suggesting a probable location for more Untidy-ness. "I have enough merchandise in the warehouse to open a whole new store," she says. "Keep on the lookout for me."
There are Jesus figurines and dildos, bright pink wigs and tutus, beads and baubles, little boys' tuxedo shirts and little girls' slip dresses, bellbottoms and crinolines.
The Untidy is cool.
Mauve: What first sparked your interest in vintage?
Michelle Lee: My mother sold antiques and vintage when I was a kid. I was always into it.
Describe your merchandise.
Hip alternative giving a one-of-a-kind look.
What is the best advice you can give someone when shopping for vintage clothing?
Be creative, cut things off or add things, but make it your own!
Updating their wardrobe?
Start with accessories and under garments that put a new flair on what you already own.
What are the characteristics of a good item of vintage clothing?
Fabric: how it is made and will it always be timeless.
What's great about shopping in the Triangle?
We have everything New York City has and a ton of creative people to boot.
What's your biggest complaint about fashion/shoppers in the Triangle?
Stop going to the mall--take a chance to develop your own style.
What is the most atrocious mistake people make when shopping for themselves?
Not going far enough--add the tutu!
What's your best piece of advice when putting together a complete outfit?
Mix and match and ask the sales help for advice to pull it together. With a store as large as ours, you could have missed something we could think of if you just communicate your ideas.
What's unique about the Untidy Museum?
We have old stuff and new stuff, from the beautiful to the crack-you-up tacky, and such an amazing amount of merchandise to choose from. I have done this all my life!