Vintage lover Amelia Dillingham falls hard for vintage clothes - and loves hearing about the past lives her pieces have led. She tells Jen Barton her biggest challenge is deciding which gems to sell in her shop or keep for herself...
For Amelia Dillingham, collecting vintage means collecting memories and each garment has a story to tell. Sourcing most of her personal vintage – as well as wares for her cosy Crouch End boutique, Painted Black – from private collections, Amelia's retro-meets-modern style sees her teaming a 1940s blouse with ripped skinny jeans from H&M and a 1970s jacket over a modern dress. And she can rock a printed kimono like no other...
What are your favourite vintage eras and style icons?
I am all about the 1960s and 1970s. I love, and I mean love, Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby - the chic, effortless style of the dresses and her Vidal Sassoon haircut (why don't I look like that!?). I also have a massive girl crush on Margot from The Good Life. I know not everyone appreciated Margot's style but I think she's cool as, and I have a collection of Margot dresses that I wear and do not care about the glances from others.
What are your top tips for styling vintage wares?
Buy pieces that you like. Do not be swayed by the high street: you may love a piece that isn't "on trend" but who cares as long as you rock it.
You do not have to be a vintage aficionado to wear vintage. I very rarely wear head-to-toe vintage - just team a vintage piece with a modern piece. I love to wear 1940s tops with a pair of skinny jeans or a 1970s jacket with a modern dress - it's the juxtaposition that makes the pieces stand out.
Damage is par for the course. I wear pieces as old as my grandmother, so do not be put off by damage or a little mark. Be confident and wear the piece, warts and all.
When did you first get hooked on vintage?
I grew up in a council house in Tottenham; we didn't have the budget for new clothes. But we did spend a lot of time at jumble sales. I was allowed ever since I can remember to pick my own clothes and style myself. So I have been rocking clothes from the 1920s to the 1970s since I was a kid. But I did spend several weeks as a child just wearing a Wonder Woman fancy dress costume over my own clothes, too - it is swings and roundabouts.
What are the best vintage-sourcing spots?
To be completely honest, it is from private collections - people who also love vintage and have collected pieces for many years that they love. Because I own a shop, you get people coming in talking about their personal collection or a family member's collection, then you get to go around to their house and view it all. This is by far one of the best perks of the job.
A few months ago, I went to a lady's house who used to own a vintage shop in New York in the Seventies. We spent ages looking through pieces: it's the shared love of these clothes and the passion that is something special.
You get to learn about the lives the pieces lived before. I really think my customers like that, too.
LOVE THIS WRITER? Follow her on Twitter @JenBNYC.
See inside the best vintage wardrobes here.
Find the best vintage shops, salons, bars and diners in your area with our shopping guide Find Me Vintage.