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Shopping with Sammy Davis: New York City’s Vintage Connoisseur

Shopping with Sammy Davis: New York City’s Vintage Connoisseur

Image courtesy of Sammy Davis

Sammy Davis and her website,, have become a beloved resource for vintage fashion. Covering everything from vintage fashion tips to an extensive look book of styles from the 1920s through the 1990s, Sammy Davis has created a community of vintage lovers in and around New York City. Sammy has appeared on “The Nate Berkus Show” and NY1. We sat down to talk to Sammy about vintage shopping, why she loves Housing Works, and what she hopes to find at this year’s Fashion for Action fall fundraiser.

Housing Works: Can we start with where you are originally from, and how you were first introduced to Housing Works?

Sammy Davis: I was born and raised in Lancaster, Pennsylvania but attended college in Philadelphia. My first experience shopping Housing Works was a few years ago when I helped a friend decorate her new Brooklyn pad with secondhand furniture finds.

We visited a ton of thrift stores and soon realized Housing Works was the best for top quality furniture at thrifty prices. We found her a set of four kitchen table chairs for a great deal at the Chelsea location, and I’ve been hooked ever since!

HW: I understand that you have been a longtime Housing Works’ Thrifts Store shopper, especially at our Buy the Bag and Warehouse sales events. For our readers that are also interested in vintage clothing, could you explain how to find vintage pieces in stores that aren’t strictly vintage sellers?

SD: If you’re a vintage lover in search of some thrifty treasure at Housing Works, the best strategy is to comb the racks examining each and every piece while taking mental note of the garment’s style, material and tag to help determine whether it’s vintage (at least 20 years old) or not.

My number one tip for a vintage newbie is to examine a piece’s tag. Little references such as “Made in the USA” (most clothing wasn’t after the ‘80s), a metal zipper (used before the late ‘60s) or missing care instructions (which weren’t required on clothing until 1971) are easy tips to identify vintage over contemporary. For more helpful information on thrifting vintage style, there’s 13 tips for identifying vintage clothing labels and tags on my site, plus more advice on how to thrift store shop your way to great contemporary and vintage fashion finds.

HW: Last week, many of our supporters and shoppers were so pleased to see you hosting our latest “Hey Ladies” special shopping event at our West Village store. Can you share your special vintage finds with us?

SD: I had such a great time at the Hey Ladies! event because the shoppers inspired me as much as I hope my vintage finds inspired them! I look at vintage clothing in a thrift store like children up for fashion adoption, and it gives me no greater joy than to find these orphans happy homes.

Fur collared bolero jackets from the ‘50s, ‘70s era shaggy-chic fur coats and even a disco-style glimmer maxi dress were some of the pieces I scooped up that night! I was especially thrilled to see a few pieces from my favorite era—the 1960s—find happy homes, including a red and gold brocade shift dress and a marvelously mod blue knit mini dress adorned with gold mirrored sequins.

I even scooped up a find of my own: A very Great Gatsby inspired 1970s-does-1920s clothing white silk and silver sequin drop waist dress to the tune of $35 thrifty dollars. Score!

HW: Your website,, showcases vintage looks and pieces from the 20s all the way through the 90s. What future projects are you looking to add to your site?

SD: In the coming weeks I’m offering my first ebook, an exciting guide to the best online vintage stores across Etsy, Ebay and independent sellers!

The book will review 100 stores based on a 30-point rating system (similar to Zagat) for your digital shopping pleasure, presenting you with the top 10 stylish shops per platform alongside lists detailing the best online shops for other fashion needs like jewelry, hats, boots, bags and of course, the shops with thrifty style steals, the largest selection of inventory and more.

HW: I understand that you will be attending this year’s Fashion for Action fundraiser! Are there any items missing from your collection that you hope to find at the event?

SD: This year will be my first year enjoying the Fashion for Action fundraiser and I’m so honored to support the initiatives of Housing Works at this great event!

When buying new I prefer top-quality products that I know I will keep and wear forever, so I’m always on the lookout for collectible contemporary designer pieces. I’d love to add some Calvin Klein, Thierry Mugler or Isabel Marant to my massive vintage clothing collection. A great pair of equestrian style knee high boots or an amazing handcrafted statement necklace are at the top of my list for fall fashion finds. Wish me luck!

To learn more about Sammy and her love of everything vintage, visit her website.

To learn more about this year’s Fashion for Action fall fundraiser, and to purchase tickets, visit the event’s webpage.

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