I’ve been visiting The Real McCoy in Exeter since I was a school kid. The store is a bit of a secret among vintage dealers, who come down from London. It’s located on Fore Street, an old street featuring a jumble of shops, including hippy shops selling crystals, druggy shops selling bongs and legal highs (when they first started selling legal highs they had a bouncer on the door), and Manson Guitars, where loads of rock stars have shopped including Lemmy, Noel Gallagher, Jimmy Page and Dave Grohl. It’s becoming more gentrified now but it’s still charming. Another second-hand shop has opened up across from The Real McCoy, called Willow Hilson, which sells ‘70s crochet dresses.
My favourite find was one of a trio of 1930s panelled dresses, that had the same cut so they move beautifully when you dance in them, but were made from different materials. The first was a white devoré velvet one; the second was a bright canary yellow satin dress and the third was a dusky purple-blue dress decorated with silver beaded stars, which came with a shawl - which is the one I chose (approximately £120). They all came from an old lady, and the store owner didn’t know the story behind them but I wondered which was worn for which particular occasion – perhaps they were made for a wedding and honeymoon. And I wondered why they were given away… I’ve never even worn the dress I chose but my mum borrowed it for my sister’s wedding.
I’ve bought lots of clothes from The Real McCoy, from a 1950s patent red moc croc purse (£15) and a ‘50s black velvet coat with high beaded collar to a white lace bridal jacket (all coats and jackets approximately £50), a ‘20s little blue slip which I’ve worn as a dress (it was included in the price of a dress), and an aqua teal piano shawl in silk (£25) which decorates my bed. I’ve had a 1940s bouclé jacket since I was 18 – it’s falling apart on the inside. I once wore it to hand in a cheque when some bonds came to fruition and a man in the bank said I didn’t look like I had any money.
The shop has also inspired my writing with its fab cupboard with tiny drawers stocked with vintage gloves and amazing artefacts.