When it comes to Budapest street fashion, it’s hard to point a finger at any specific style. Having a unique, individual flare is perhaps the best way to sum up the look on the streets, offering an eclectic mix from local designers, items picked up at thrift stores, and vintage treasures discovered in hidden Aladdin’s Caves from all corners of Budapest.
Vintage clothing and accessories paint Budapest’s streets with playful outfits and a shabby-chic feel that aligns perfectly with the aesthetic of the city’s ruin bars and crumbling historic buildings. But when you’re a novice in the city or even just passing through, it’s hard not to get seduced by the city’s interesting street style – even if you don’t know where to start.
With so many vintage shops scattered about, some hidden and some set in obscure locations, it can be quite a tough challenge to find out where the good ones are, but if you need a starting nudge there is help at hand.
A Trash and Treasure Hunt Through Budapest
If you want to delve into the world of Budapest vintage, both as someone who lives in the city or is just visiting, then let Madeleine, a pro when it comes to vintage shopping, show you around.
Originally from Sweden, Madeleine has lived in Budapest for so long she speaks perfect Hungarian, and knows Budapest’s vintage stores better than her own closet. Her Styleomad Vintage Clothing Tours curate the best vintage and second hand shops in the city to get you started on your shopping odyssey.
Photo and also featured image: Jennifer Walker
A Unique Experience
Running during weekdays and on Saturdays, no tour is the same. Since some shops open on a whim, the chosen boutiques will vary depending on the time and day of the tour, but that makes things a little more exciting.
“If we’re in a small group and there is a specific interest, I can tailor the tour around that,” Madeleine tells me as we step off the tram in Corvin Negyed en route to the first shop, “But if we’re a mixed group with different interests, then I’d pick something that gives them an overview of the vintage scene, but I am happy to cater the tour to the persons’ needs – especially for private groups.”
First stop on our vintage clothes tour is a little treasure trove in the back streets of the outer VIII District. Inside it’s smells musty, with ball gowns and theatrical costumes stuffed onto the rack glinting in several colours and textures. It’s hard to know where to start. But upon request, the owners also opened the basement, which was more manageable to navigate.
Today was clearly a good day to buy, since we were offered a free scarf or jewelry with each purchase. Coming from the British point of view where vintage often comes with a prestige price tag, here in the fringes of the VIII District, finding out that I could get most items for under 2,000HUF could spell the beginning of a dangerous habit.
Photo: Jennifer Walker
Dressing in a Time Warp
Stop two took us back into the outer VII District, to a large shop tucked in a basement around Dohány utca. Stepping down revealed a Hell’s Angels’ dream closet of leather, as well as 70s and 80s items and random, unique pieces you’d have no idea you need, but suddenly realise you can’t live without.
But we were not simply going to browse half-heartedly. Before our descent into this dressing up box for adults, Madeleine held out some cards and asked us to pick one. Each card had a specific theme scribbled on the back of it: 80s Working Girl, 70s Saint Tropez, 80s Pop Star, among others.
I pulled 70s Saint Tropez, so went hunting for the right outfit. Fortunately, you can’t go wrong with a kaftan so found an authentic one made in Egypt, a hat and some shiny bling to go with the look. The others had more of a challenging costume to put together, hunting around trying to find the perfect look. It’s a good way to break the ice and actually try something on than awkwardly browse, and who knows, you might find the perfect piece for you! And if you don’t end up buying something, it’s a throwback to childhood memories of playing dress up.
Photo: Jennifer Walker
An Appetite for Champagne
Our tour ended up in the inner part of the VII District in more trendy boutiques where the price tags were a little higher than the shops outside the Körút, but still full of exciting discoveries you can’t be sure to find again. However, all that shopping is exhausting, and what a girl wants after traipsing round the deliciously musty and dusty shops is a glass of Champagne.
Lucky for me, Madeleine ends each tour with a glass of sparkling wine at the closest acceptable bar.
“The tour includes a glass of sparkling wine to celebrate, because we should always celebrate shopping,” Madeleine says.
Whether that’s a drink on top of 360º or in Café Zhivago, a glass of sparkling wine is the perfect end to the tour, where we all get the chance to compare purchases and photos of our little time travelling dress up session.
The tour is ideal for those of you looking to embark on a trash and treasure hunt through the city, on a mission to find the best vintage and second hand deals, while having a bit of fun.
Photo: Jennifer Walker
Includes a glass of sparkling to celebrate, because we should always celebrate shopping.
Tours go Fridays and Saturdays, other days by appointment. Private customized tours on request.
Click here to visit Madeleine’s website.
Also be sure to check out Madeleine’s blog about style, art and life in Budapest.
About the author: Jennifer Walker is an Anglo-Hungarian former nuclear physicist turned writer based in Budapest, Hungary. She’s passionate about discovering Budapest’s hidden places, architecture and art.