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Alter Ego: A Lifestyle 

"We're all fashion whores in my family," says Sabina Hyderi, a former lawyer and part-time actress who, with her brother Sameer, runs this clunkily named vintage shop at 2823 N. Lincoln--just a few blocks from My Masala, the contemporary boutique belonging to her sister Salwa Harmon. Last summer the Hyderis transformed what looks to have been a small apartment into Sabina's idea of a "French boudoir-slash-lounge," painting the walls in rich, warm colors and installing a luxurious dressing area with a sari-covered sofa behind French doors. Don't be put off by the heavy incense--this is not your typical overstuffed storefront full of hand-me-downs: Sabina, who put herself through school working retail, has assembled a lovingly edited collection of pieces largely from the 40s, 50s, and 60s. There are tweedy skirt suits, leather jackets, beaded tops, and 50s-style pocketbooks, including an elegant creamy leather envelope with a wrist strap. A couple racks hold vintage items given a contemporary twist by the local design duo Jules McKenzie--a taupe coat remade into a capelet, polyester jackets embroidered with cherries and flowers, an embroidered linen shift with puffy sleeves. There's also tons of costume jewelry--sparkly brooches and ropes of beads, no gaudy monstrosities. Men's stuff, including button-downs stenciled with lions and eagles, is in the back room. Prices range from about $40 to $120, although the occasional designer piece, such as a gem-encrusted white Oscar de la Renta dress, may go for more. The vivacious Sabina, who has scattered new-agey messages of positivity around the place, says she doesn't want customers to feel like they have to buy anything. "I always say play, never say shop," she says. "Sometimes you have to try on 20 vintage dresses to find something."

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Stephen J. Serio.

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