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Westport Shop Owner Revives Vintage Fashion

You'll take a step back in time when you walk through the door of Vintage Virtuosa , an authentic vintage clothing, jewelry and accessory store in Westport. The store, owned by longtime resident Karen Ellman, celebrated its grand opening Friday night.

The store showcases a variety of items from the 1940s to the 1980s, including dresses, handbags, hats, shoes and even housewares. And believe it or not, every piece was handpicked by Karen, a past president of the Westport PTA Council.

"I get out to a lot of homes and search for vintage clothing, at estate sales," said Karen, 48. "People have even contacted me and invited me to their homes as they're cleaning them out."

How did she become so enthralled with vintage clothing? Her passion for clothing from eras gone by started at the same place she now finds the items she sells: estate sales. After having children, Karen stopped working and started browsing estate sales in her free time.

"Most of the time, I found myself in the bedroom closets of these old homes looking through clothes," she said. "I appreciated the style, and I liked the fact that I'd be rescuing a dress or something else."

Once she started buying a few items, Karen said she took to the Web and researched vintage clothing to learn more about the things she had. And the more she learned, the more she became enamored.

"This clothing is so fascinating. From the textiles, colors and the way they were designed," Karen said. It was this passion that led to the birth of Vintage Virtuosa in 2004 as an online boutique . And after achieving international success online and having acquired so many items, Karen said she thought it was time to open a storefront, in addition to the online business, of course.

"I thought it would be nice to show them off in a store," she said. "Plus, now I can interact with like-minded people who appreciate vintage fashion."

Are you a fan of vintage clothing? Which era is your favorite? Tell us below.

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