STYLE

My Vintage Wardrobe: Amber Jane Butchart, Fashion Historian

14/08/2014 16:46 | Updated 20 May 2015

As a fashion historian (among many other talents; she's also an author, lecturer, radio host and DJ), historic dress is at the root of everything Amber Jane Butchart does.

Combine Amber's encyclopaedic knowledge of vintage (she was head buyer at Beyond Retro for seven years and still loves to shop there) with her eclectic style and you have a winning fashion formula: lots of prints, pieces from different countries as well as eras and a "more is more" maximalism that's led to some of her most amazing purchases: turbans, jester and toreador outfits, colourful bow ties and tights in every colour.

From Nautical Chic (the title of Amber's upcoming book, which focuses on the history of nautical style, looking at fisherman, sailors and pirates, and is published by Thames & Hudson in spring 2015) to Victorian mourning wear and West African textiles, Amber's work and wardrobe are closely intertwined – you'll find a printed Victorian bodice hanging up next to 1930s-era tap pants and 1970s jumpsuits. Lucky for us, we got to take a peek at all of it...

What are some of your top tips for scouring the best vintage pieces?

I think if you love it, hunting for old clothes just comes naturally. Rummaging isn't an acquired taste, it has to give you that adrenalin buzz otherwise why would you bother?

​I would say be open-minded - vintage is where you can really go crazy with statement pieces. If you're looking for basics then you may as well head to the high street.

What got you interested in vintage fashion?

I grew up shopping at charity shops and jumble sales - my mum bought all our clothes that way - so it was really how I first learned to shop. I guess that makes my mum the person that got me hooked! I started working at Beyond Retro in 2002, when the word 'vintage' was only just starting to be used in mainstream fashion magazines. I've always loved the feeling of hunting for treasure. I think it's safe to say I have mothballs in my blood.

Where are your favourite places to source vintage items?

Charity shops and car boot sales are still my favourite. In terms of vintage shops it will always be Beyond Retro as I spent so much time there - it was like a second home for me.

What are some of your tips for styling vintage outfits?

A turban is my answer to all woes. They look good with any outfit, any era.

I would highly recommend Akhu Designs 'Amber Jane' turbans (named after me!) and Alice Edgeley's super glamorous 'Gloria' model.

Do you have a favourite vintage beauty look?

I used to be quite experimental with brightly coloured eyeshadow - that's a look I want to get back into one day. But generally I keep my make up fairly classic - black liquid eyeliner and red lips. You can't go wrong with it really. A turban always tops it off, especially as I have quite a sharp bob.

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