STYLE

​My Vintage Wardrobe: Katie Thomas From What Katie Did

24/10/2013 14:48 | Updated 22 May 2015

If you want a bust like Marilyn's - and, frankly, who doesn't? - then Katie Thomas, owner and founder of vintage lingerie shop What Katie Did, is your go-to gal.

We took a peek inside her oh-so-fabulous vintage wardrobe and we're lusting after more than just knickers...

Sarah Lucy Brown

Tell us a bit about your style ethos.

Personally, I think style should be used to express yourself. Today, fashion is very generic and really quite drab, unless you're shopping at the designer level where the choice has never been wider. Wearing vintage clothing is accessible to everyone, no matter what their budget, and shows they've made a decisive choice on how they wish to present themselves.

What sparked your interest in vintage fashion?

Marilyn Monroe was my earliest influence. It was the 25th anniversary of her death in 1987 and newspapers and magazines were filled with images of her. She introduced me to a world of glamour I thought no longer existed.

What are your favourite vintage eras?

I'm slightly obsessed with the Christian Dior years: 1947 to 1957. Dior's 1947 collection focused on very full skirts with tiny nipped-in waists. Although this was seen as highly extravagant straight after WWII, it was a look that would continue to be popular throughout the 1950s.

Where are your favourite places to source vintage items?

I mostly shop on Etsy and eBay. When I do get chance to shop "properly" in London I head to Portobello Road on Fridays, in particular 295 (at 295 Portobello Road) which has a tucked-away area at the back full of jewellery, handbags and lingerie.

I always pick up a few good pieces at The Goodwood Revival and other retro shows that happen throughout the year including The Rhythm Riot and The Rockabilly Rave; these events are great because they only focus on the 1940s and 1950s so you don't have to wade through lots of 1970s and 1980s items.

What are your vintage wardrobe and beauty must-haves?

A tight-fitting black pencil skirt is a must as it's so adaptable. A modern pencil skirt can be teamed with a tight black sweater and seamed nylons for an easy, smart-but-vintage look, with the tightness of the skirt deciding whether it's for office or evening.

For beauty, don't forget eyebrows which were so important in the 1950s: take a look at Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe, who both had very distinctively shaped brows. I don't go anywhere without my Benefit Brow Zings.

What are your tips for scouring vintage pieces and finding the best fit when it comes to vintage lingerie?

Apart from the obvious tip of checking under the arms (not only for sweat stains - urgh! - but also for wear and tear), always carry a tape measure. If you don't have a tape measure then you can match the waist and hip seams of the dress to the waist and hip seams of the dress you're wearing - in a second you'll determine whether the dress is going to fit or not.

When it comes to lingerie, always, always, check your measurements. In the 1950s, waists were a lot smaller, so if you don't have what we call a "vintage figure" (with a waist 10" smaller than the hips) there might be an issue with fit. If you have a modern figure, don't get a girdle that finishes on the waist as you will get a muffin top - instead go for a full length corselette or a waist-cincher that smoothes you from bust to hip.

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