Playing Dress-up at the Vintage Photography Emporium | Kids VT | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Playing Dress-up at the Vintage Photography Emporium


Published December 6, 2016 at 10:00 a.m.

Alison and Mira Novak - ALISON NOVAK
  • Alison Novak
  • Alison and Mira Novak
2 Church Street, Burlington

My daughter, Mira, has always loved dressing up. In her early years she traipsed around the house in fairy wings, princess dresses and plastic high heels. Now that she's a mature fourth grader, she's more interested in purses, scarves, trench coats and ankle boots. The girl loves fashion.

So when I peeked into the large storefront windows of Vintage Photography Emporium — an old-timey photo studio at the top of the Church Street Marketplace that opened in August — and spied racks of dresses, rows of sparkly shoes and accessories galore, I knew a mother-daughter visit was in order.

I checked out the studio's website and was pleased to see that it's a locally based, family-run business. I sent an email to the address on the site to make sure kids' costumes were available, and to see if I needed an appointment. A prompt reply let me know there were plenty of smaller-size clothing options and that we could just walk in.

When we arrived, at 2:30 p.m. on a Sunday, one family of adults was finishing up and another group was on the way. A tattooed woman in a vintage dress asked us to come back in an hour. Before we left, we perused the costumes and photo books for inspiration. Mira was beyond excited as she browsed the showroom full of fur stoles, vintage jewelry, Western garb and wedding dresses. We decided we'd go for glamour and dress like flappers, then left for shopping and a snack on Church Street.

When we returned, the woman working there helped us pick out outfits. Mira chose a satiny emerald green dress with fun fringe at the top. I went with a short black number with tiered layers of fringe. We ducked into a spacious dressing room to change into the frocks, which could be adjusted to accommodate different sizes. Then we picked out the perfect accessories: a cropped jacket with fur, short gloves, black heels and a beaded clutch for me; a grey fake-fur shawl, long gloves, maroon crushed velvet heels and a metallic pouch for Mira. We capped off our looks with feathered headbands and multiple strands of pearls. I'm not usually into dressing up, but it was pretty fun having free reign of a fabulous costume box.

When we were sufficiently adorned, it was time for the photos. For a $10-per-person fee, we were entitled to four different poses. There are several different backdrops to choose from: a parlor; a frontier set; a saloon; and — best suited to our outfits — a vintage car straight out of the Roaring Twenties. Mira and I mugged for the camera while the woman took pictures, occasionally adjusting our fringe and positioning our hands.

Since the photos are digital, we were able to view them right away. In looking at my stiff, awkward appearance compared to Mira's natural adorableness, I realized I could definitely take some lessons from my daughter.

We couldn't agree on which pose we liked best, so we chose two sepia-toned 8x10s, at $10 a pop. I'm not sure the photos will go on our mantel, but that's OK; it was more about the process than the product. Mira said it was one of the best things she's ever done. She's already talking about celebrating her spring birthday there and bringing my husband, Jeff, and son, Theo, for a family photo session. As for me, I just enjoyed having some frivolous fun with my glamorous girl.


Vintage Photography Emporium is open from noon-8 p.m., Sunday through Thursday and noon-midnight, Friday and Saturday. For more information, visit or call 489-5975.


  • Central location, close to shops and restaurants
  • Fun indoor option during colder months
  • The studio is offering photos with Santa through Christmas Eve.


  • Some of the props and outfits — like Jim Beam bottles, cigarettes, guns and revealing outfits — are inappropriate for children, so parents should be involved in the selection process.
  • At $10 per photo — on top of the $10-per-person sitting fee — it can get a bit pricey.

This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.