QMy wife loves vintage apparel and accessories. The problem is that, while I have a pretty good idea of the things she likes, I don't have the time to shop at vintage stores. Are there places on the Web to find these items?

-- Dan Smolen, Stafford

AThere's always eBay, but for less-savvy shoppers, that Web site can be surprisingly tricky to navigate. "Vintage" has become such a buzzword that unless you know exactly which designers and styles your wife likes, you can spend hours scrolling through pages of spanking-new "vintage inspired" geegaws -- and end up with something you could have bought at Target for a lot less.

That in mind, eBay's staggering selection certainly makes it worth a stop. Here are a few other sites I'd recommend.

Many women find handbags easier to buy online than clothes, and the Bag Lady Emporium (http://www.bagladyemporium.com) has hundreds of bags at a wide range of prices. The site stocks almost any style you can imagine and some you probably didn't know existed. Top picks include tidy stamped-leather satchels, mod Lucite cases and fanciful beaded clutches from the 1920s.

Enokiworld (http://www.enokiworld.com) carries tough-to-find designer clothes by the likes of Stephen Sprouse, Ossie Clark and Zandra Rhodes, plus bags and shoes from such pricey purveyors as Hermès, Gucci and Bottega Veneta. The offerings may be limited, but fashion insiders are likely to covet every piece.

Fashiondig (http://www.fashiondig.com) is an easy-to-navigate site that peddles clothing and accessories from vintage dealers across the country. You can search by item, designer, dealer or decade, and prices are generally reasonable: Even Victorian silk jackets and art deco necklaces are often available for less than $100.

If you're serious about vintage, visit Vintage Textile (http://www.vintagetextile.com). Its impressive array of collector-grade pieces dates to the 18th century, including Colonial-era gowns crafted from silk damask and dazzling hand-beaded flapper dresses. Yes, prices are astronomical, but there's vintage and then there's vintage. Glimpsing the latter from time to time can be truly inspiring, no matter what your budget.

-- Suzanne D'Amato


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