What’s On finds out about the best places for retro and vintage shopping in Dubai, including boutiques in Jumeirah and online jewellery shops in Dubai.

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Vintage is a marvelous statement about your personal style, but also a form of recycling that is healthy for the planet. We’re not talking Macklemore-style thrift shopping here. Throw on your double strand of 1950’s pearls and your best satin turban, channel your inner Holly Golightly and get ready to class things up old school…

But first, there’s a lot of confusion between the categories of vintage, antique, retro, and pre-loved. Here is a snappy cheat sheet to take along on your next shopping trip.

Vintage Vintage is sometimes used broadly as anything bought secondhand, but the term technically refers to anything made from the 1920s to the early 90s.

Antique Living in such a new country, it’s hard to find authentic treasures of old in shops or markets. Just in case you come across a rare beauty, keep in mind that antiques are precious items that have been authenticated by an expert and date back a century or more.

Retro Are you a child of the 80s? To sum up the decade with one word: leggings. Retro is all about trends from the past making a comeback today and usually pertains to reproductions (ahem…rocking floral leggings all over again?) of clothing, jewellery, or design.

Pre-Loved Anything that has been gently used and then resold or given away. Case in point: those stilettos that made you cry out in pain the one time you wore them and have now been donated to your best friend.

Repurposed An old (and possibly broken) item transformed into something new and functional.


Sophie’s Closet
This online UAE jewellery boudoir is brimming with sparklers, including a curated collection of surprisingly affordable vintage baubles by the likes of Chanel, Dior and YSL. We talked treasure hunting with founder Sophie Katirai.

Sophie's Closet

How does it make you feel to wear vintage? Vintage feels unique, beautiful and‎ regal.

What does vintage mean in the world of jewellery? The term refers to jewellery that has passed the test of time (more than 20 years old) and is still beautiful, desirable and now rare and collectible.

How can vintage jewellery be authenticated? Collectors and dealers have trained eyes, and knowledge of stamps and marks that identify the age of a piece of jewellery. Most designers stamp their pieces and their signatures change with time or have date codes that are used to authenticate the age of that piece.

What is the one piece of vintage jewellery you could never live without? ‎My Ciner pearl flower earrings from the 1960s. I have worn them more than any of my other jewelry and never travel without them.


The Odd Piece
Stepping into The Odd Piece in Wasl Square is like visiting a super chic flea market tucked down a side street in Paris. Jeddah-born founder Arwa Hafiz has a brilliantly eclectic eye for mixing eras, colours, and textures and has given Dubai the gift of its very first vintage furniture and design shop. Seated on funky 50’s armchairs that have been lovingly restored, Arwa shared her story.

Vintage shopping in Dubai - The Odd Piece

How did The Odd Piece come about? I wanted to give people a place to discover the single, perfectly unique piece that would add a burst of colour or surprise to an otherwise straightforward room in their home. It can be anything from a chandelier to a bright chair, or a side table.

What statement does vintage make about reusing or repurposing? I was recently in London visiting Battersea Antique Market and saw that the buyers were deliberately seeking out furniture with distressed, worn-in leather. You want a piece with some history to it.

Where do you find the designs you offer at The Odd Piece? I travel to flea markets, shops, and dealers all over the world. I gather a lot of Arabesque pieces in Beirut and regularly uncover finds in Istanbul and Paris.

If you could take a time capsule to another time, which era would you choose? I’m obsessed with Mad Men, so definitely the 1950s because of the signature style. Designs back then were produced consciously with solid materials and really built to last. I would live in a one story mid-century modern bungalow in Los Angeles.


My Ex Wardrobe
The three sisters who founded My Ex Wardrobe put together a brilliant series of social events for women who are keen on exchanging, buying, or selling pre-loved wardrobe staples. We chatted with Teagan Rowlands about the concept.

My Ex Wardrobe event in Dubai

Why did you choose to focus on pre-loved versus vintage or luxury? We grew up with four daughters in the house so “hand-me-downs” were a regular occurrence, and our summers in UK were spent rooting through charity shops and car boot sales. We felt we could provide the first platform for pre-loved items from all labels here in Dubai – not just a small exclusive area.

What is your most prized pre-loved find? A vintage Chanel shirt… LOVE! I won’t let anyone come anywhere near me when I’m wearing it for fear of stains.

Can anyone attend your events? Is there a fee for entry or to sell? Our events are open to everyone. If you’d like to sell through us, there is a small admin fee, then if you earn over a certain amount we take a modest commission. After the event you receive your money and your unsold items back unless you elect for us to donate them to charity.



Bambah This quirky villa on Jumeirah Beach Road is where you go to pick up the perfect polka-dotted peplum 80s prom dress to wear to a party or cool reconstructed denim jackets and vests fashioned from retro fabric by owner Maha Abdul Rasheed.


Reem’s Closet Tucked away in Mazaya Centre is an unexpected treasure trove of couture handbags, frocks, and jewels. The atmosphere isn’t lavish and the prices aren’t cheap, but the quality is top notch and the service is helpful.


Garderobe Wander into this villa and have the thrill of raiding SJP’s cushy boudoir. A well-curated range of shoes, accessories, and clothing from top designers at fairly reasonable prices proves to be dangerously tempting.


Audrey’s Cat
Proprietress Lynda Kirby is a true historian when it comes to jewellery and her collection offers everything from Victorian broaches to 1950s sweater guards and 1970s chain link necklaces. The best part is that she sources most pieces directly from the original owners and always has a wonderful story to tell about anything you take home, and will even host a charming tea party for you and your friends.