Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016 | 2 a.m.
Don’t let the simple name fool you. The Ribbon Store is much more than a store for ribbon.
A paradise of fancy silks, buttons, vintage items and high-end bric-a-brac, it is a destination for the serious crafter, dressmaker or milliner, with the potential to be revered by every fashion subculture in town.
I’m not even that crafty, but when I walk in, I immediately fantasize about what I should make first. A delicate piece of lace to complement a favorite pearl brooch? A pretty silk rose for my handbag? A full-on lace collar to wear over dresses and sweaters?
And the hankies! Am I supposed to start carrying a vintage hanky? Of course I am. Why did we stop doing that?
Here’s what’s most important about the store: The possibilities for customization are endless. And if there’s one thing I know about Las Vegas fashonistas: They aren’t trying to look like anybody else. You can take anything in here and upgrade your existing pieces, either yourself or with the help of a seamstress. This is a place to let out your inner Yves Saint Laurent. Imagine making (or selling) one-of-a-kind ribbon chokers with button details to wear with retro-grunge dresses. Or an array of vintage buttons splashed across your tote or clutch — very fashion-forward this year.
Anyone with an Etsy store would prize these materials for their bespoke collections. And if you’re a quilter, dancer, jewelry maker, burlesquer, magician, crafter, seamstress, retro-doll, vintage lover, steam punker, stylist, costumer or performer of any kind, you need to meet Carole Sidlow, who owns the store with her husband, Peter. She curates beautiful, meaningful, history-filled inventory and even hand-pleats her own ribbons.
“I’m very fussy with the materials that I buy. I only get what I like,” she says. “I’m not buying to sew quickly.”
If you shop elsewhere for craft supplies, you may have noticed that superstores buy cheaply and buy for volume. Carole buys for magnificence.
She takes me to a glass cabinet and pulls out a gorgeous curiosity. Large silver items dangle from silver chains attached to a broach-like, silver rose.
“That’s called a chatelaine,” she says. “Did you ever watch ‘Downton Abbey?’ They wore these. This is late 1800s. This one has a little pad, and this is a pencil. It was worn on the edge of the skirt. They had sewing chatelaines too, with scissors and bobbins and that kind of thing.”
I love “Downton Abbey,” and yep, the Dowager Countess wore that all the time. Next to that, a silver art deco compact from the 1930s has two little compartments for powder and puff. Tiny beaded handbags peek out from the glass shelves next to beautiful lace hankies that want to be made into jabots. Hand-tinted fashion prints from France perch near vintage hats, clothing and Authentic Victorian pillows over 100 years old.
“I’m one of the few people in the U.S. who really focuses on these,” Carole says of the antique pillows. “As you can see, this one is absolutely mint.”
She also sells antique linen sheets. “Feel this,” she says, comparing the cotton with the linen. “The antique linen is always cool. Anytime you turn under a linen sheet in the summer, it feels good.”
She keeps handing me things, and I keep saying, “I’ve never seen anything like that.”
If you don’t want to embellish your own pieces, Carole makes oversized clutch purses, all lined in red velveteen. Each sports a plump, feminine bow spilling over the edges. Some of these clutch bags are large enough to fit an iPad. On another table, she showcases handmade strawberry pincushions — a far cry from the plain old tomato variety our mothers and grandmothers use. I know what I’m getting my mom for Christmas, I think as I inspect the soft velvet, rhinestones and blinged-out lace. Carole places feathers and a decorative beaded stick in every single one. Gorgeous.
For as long as she has collected pretty things, her husband has collected vintage ad posters, pin-up calendars, sports pennants, casino memorabilia and antique road maps. So ladies, if you’re shopping with your man, bring him. Have him ask to see the vintage Marilyn Monroe nudes on the Las Vegas calendars — from back when Norma Jean was a stock photo.
I left the store feeling fully inspired. If the whole point of fashion is personal expression, why not step up the individuality? Make a bolder choice than just wearing items straight off the rack. Let’s create something fabulous to affix on our hats, shoes and handbags. Our bikinis, too. We’re Las Vegans. We do what we want.