WINCHESTER — Not too long ago, Alexandra Archibald was rooting around in a box at a warehouse sale in Pennsylvania when she unearthed a 1960s Lanvin shirt-dress at the bottom.
The high-fashion “super rare” vintage outfit — with tie belt attached — was in mint condition.
Knowing that Lanvin sells its attire for up to thousands of dollars, Archibald couldn’t help but be ecstatic.
‘‘I felt like my heart stopped when I found it,” said the 2001 Handley High School grad.
The outfit then followed the same trajectory as so many others that Archibald finds — from dingy box to clean, mended and displayed in Archibald’s online vintage store, petite tenue.
“It’s kinda like treasure hunting for me,” she said of her process.
After graduating from Handley, Archibald, 33, attended Graham Webb Academy in Arlington to study hair. She moved to New York City upon finishing, where she played in a band and did hair and fashion gigs.
The online vintage store petite tenue —which in French means “small outfit” — began as a blog where Archibald featured 35mm self-portraits of herself sporting vintage clothing she’d found. But it wasn’t long before she built up a following of women who were interested in finding out about her discovered fashions and whether they were for sale.
So Archibald took it upon herself to go digging around at estate sales and in warehouses across the country for vintage clothing of all styles and sizes. She found sales through Craigslist, local newspapers and word of mouth, and after finding the clothes, she’d mend and clean them to sell on her website.
“I became a specialist at cleaning delicate old fabrics,” she said. “I mend and fix everything up.”
She currently sells clothing from the ‘20s to the ‘80s but sticks mostly to the mod-’60s and the Jane Birkin phase of the ‘70s. Her company’s tagline is “vintage for babes.”
“Because anyone can be a babe,” she said.
Archibald now takes her act on the road in the form of a 25-foot-Airstream trailer, which serves as both a pop-up shop and a permanent home.
She has traveled everywhere from Texas to Minnesota, pulling over in campgrounds and cities to sell her wares. She stimulates sales through social media and goes where the weather appeals to her or where she might like to visit next. She recently stopped at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas.
At the end of the day, it’s not unusual for Archibald to set up her trailer at a campground, listen to a record and have a glass of wine.
The new gig also allows her to interact with her customers face-to-face.
“It’s a really cool experience,” she said. “People get excited at a store inside of a trailer.”
It also appeals to the dreamer in her. Growing up, Archibald always found herself living outside the typical teenage box, listening to old records of her father’s and watching old movies, like those of Alfred Hitchcock.
“I like freedom and independence,” she said. “The brick-and-mortar store was never going to be a fit for me. I never wanted to do a 9-5 job. I wanted to see the world, meet people and do new things.”
In July, she will set out with her boyfriend in the Airstream on a sales trip across the country and down the Pacific Coast Highway. Both have sold their apartments in Brooklyn, with the notion that if they like a place, they might consider settling there.
“I learned that I love being on the road,” Archibald said. “I love crazy and spontaneous things coming at me.”
Archibald’s mother and step-father are Blair and Larry Belkin, of Winchester, and her father is George Archibald, of Berryville.
— Contact Rebecca Layne at email@example.com Follow on Twitter @LifeWinStar