Thank you to Corinna Moebius and the Little Havana Guide for such a great article on Back In Style!
By Corinna Moebius
When Sheffield MacIntyre moved away from Miami, she figured she would never return. As a college student in the Northeast, she thought: “I’m never going back to Miami, I hate it, it’s superficial, it’s materialistic, it’s difficult to get anywhere.”
But when she returned home after college, she rediscovered Little Havana and the neighboring residential neighborhood of Shenandoah, which she had visited as a child.
“I love Little Havana!” she exclaims. She noticed that this area of Miami “has a lot of really interesting houses, and a lot of cultural things to offer that the rest of Miami did’t have and that the rest of the country didn’t have.”
She ended up buying an apartment building in Little Havana, which filled up quickly with tenants. Her positive experience as a property owner convinced her to move to Little Havana herself. She was excited by the opening of Azucar, a shop selling homemade ice cream, “and the cigar shops and the wine bars and the art galleries and all these kind of up and coming, budding new businesses,” she says. “It’s like a new neighborhood now, a new cultural center.”
It makes sense that she would recognize the value of Little Havana, as Sheffield is a talented professional treasure hunter.
She has recently opened Back in Style, an appointment-only showroom selling everything from unique, affordable $10 items to high-end brand new $1000 Matthew Williamson gowns. The store’s specialty is 1960s designer jersey dresses in bright retro prints. “We have a Bob Mackie dress that was designed for Cher,” adds Sheffield,”and our shop has one of the largest collections of vintage Emilio Pucci in the world, with over 100 pieces!”
Back in Style is not open regular hours. Sheffield wants it to be a destination — a place people go to because they know about it and are looking for something unique. Indeed, it’s easy to miss: the showroom is located in what looks like a residential house on the border of Little Havana and Shenandoah, at 2209 SW 10th Street.
Sheffield wants to give her clients totally personalized service: after attentively listening their needs, understanding their tastes and knowing their sizes, she says she can help them find exactly what they are looking for, whether a set of vampy long red gloves, a psychedlic print 60s dress or a delicate embroidered vintage shawl.
She especially enjoys helping her clients try something different than what they might otherwise pick for themselves. “I find that when I’m shopping I always buy the same things over and over again,” she explained.
The shopping experience can be social, too: she encourages clients to bring friends. “It’s like playing dress-up when you were a kid,” says Sheffield. She plans to do happy hours and social gatherings for bridesmaids and other groups of friends who want a special day or evening out.
Celebrities and fashion houses are certainly excited about what Sheffield has to offer. “I’ve sold a vintage Yves Saint Laurent dress to Julia Roberts that she wore on the red carpet at the 2010 Golden Globes,” mentioned Sheffield. “And I found a 1960s Gucci handbag with a bamboo handle that was so popular Gucci has re-issued them.”
Back in Style also has a large collection of vintage Lilly Pulitzer; five of the dresses are on display at the Museum of Lifestyle and Fashion History for their ‘Love of Lily’ exhibit.
Sheffield credits her family with helping her learn how to spot objects with enduring (and growing) value. “My mother collects art and jewelry and my father collects silver, so I grew up going to auctions and estate sales, hunting and sifting through stuff for treasures,” she said. “And I love fashion, so I combined those two things and started this business 12 years ago in 2000.”
When she started her online business, Miamians did not own a lot of vintage clothes or have much interest in vintage, she says. “When I first started everyone was like, ‘Why buy old clothes when you can buy new clothes?'” So, her brother built her first website, and she started her business online. It took off!
Still, she longed for personal contact with her customers, which is why she decided to open up her showroom.
Miami has changed, says Sheffield. “I think as vintage has become more mainstream and everyone a little more socially conscious and environmentally conscious. Vintage has really become a fashion brand of its own. It’s good for the environment, it’s good for your wallet: there are lots of benefits.”
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