If vintage stores were cars, this would be an Alfa-Romeo: luxuriantly stylish, with a “modern retro” feel that makes you want to go inside immediately.
Although the name is a bit of a misnomer — given that a significant portion of the dresses are new — it’s still well worth a visit if you’re looking for an upscale dress at a knockdown price or to see vintage bridal dresses that double as works of art. It must be said that El Tocador Vintage is first and foremost a bridal store. So don’t go there expecting to sift through piles of musty garments ’til you find a hidden gem.
Like Williamsburg, El Tocador Vintage is situated in the hipster hood of Malasaña, on Calle de Apodaca. Unlike Williamsburg, the shop’s interior is manicured enough to resemble that of a designer outlet, with not a trace of that sometimes-unpleasant-sometimes-comforting-but-always-distinctive vintage smell.
The helpful lady behind the counter explained that El Tocador Vintage stocks a select collection of party and evening wear, as evidenced by the meters of tulle and galaxy of sequins adorning the shelves. I came in with the idea of finding some bridesmaid shoes for an upcoming wedding, but El Tocador Vintage‘s selection doesn’t extend much beyond bridal gowns, evening dresses and the odd clutch. When I visited, they did have one pair of shoes on display, but these were woefully small for my oversized feet.
El Tocador Vintage takes a holistic approach to reusing clothing; offering a service to help you value and sell your used wedding dress. As their website details, if the used dress fits in with the shop’s stylistic palette, it may well earn a place on a rack next to brand-new boutique frocks for affordable prices (€139-€199 for short ones and €165-€299 for long ones). There’s something beautiful about such a significant dress having a second, or even third, special day (hopefully unlike its previous owners).
To the chagrin of some reviewers, you cannot simply saunter in and try on bridal dresses. Fittings are appointment-only; adding to the exclusive feel of the place. However, the bulk of reviews written about El Tocador Vintage are glowing, praising the staff for being helpful without being pushy. My experience in this regard was positive. The assistant knew I wasn’t going to buy anything, but gave me useful advice on finding an inexpensive evening gown for my mum and answered my prattling questions about a sleek little number that caught my eye.
One feature of the shop I feel hasn’t received sufficient mention is its unique selection of handcrafted hair accessories. These carry quite un-vintage price tags (after all they are new), but I was still incredibly tempted to splurge on the fairy-like designs, which I was told were made by a Spanish artist.
I also highly recommend perusing El Tocador Vintage‘s website, which not only provides a pleasing user experience, but also a representation of the shop’s overall vibe: carefully thought-out, aesthetically splendid and unapologetically chic.
Venue: El Tocador Vintage – http://www.eltocadorvintage.com/
Visited: February 13, 2017
Address: Calle de Apodaca 6, 28004 Madrid, Spain
Contact: 911 76 15 10
Open: Monday – Friday from 11.00 to 14.00 and 16.30 to 20.30 / Saturdays from 10.00 to 14.00